WISCASSET—Ironically, Wiscasset’s first brewery is named after the nearby town 10 minutes away, but there’s a story for that. On Route 1, opposite from the Shaw’s Supermarket, Bath Ale Works, co-owned by Pepper and Jean Powers opened its brewery and taproom Memorial Day Weekend.
Powers, who arguably has one of the coolest brewer’s names ever, said, “We had the idea to open up in Bath several years ago, but we never found the right building at the right time, and then when we did, we waited two years to move into a building that ultimately never got built.”
Powers, who has home-brewed since 1993, decided to set his sights on the property at 681 Bath Road, a division of the adjacent Family Dollar Store.
“The Midcoast has a rich, maritime heritage with shipbuilding, not just with Bath Iron Works, and we wanted the brewery name to reflect that kind of Midcoast nautical feel,” he said.
The vacant building was a challenge to transform. When other tasting rooms were shut down due to the social-distancing and capacity mandates last year, Powers and his crew used the time to build out the entire brewery, including a cold storage room, a lab, and a serving cooler.
“For everyone else, it was a hard time, but for us, the timing was a blessing in disguise,” he said.
The spacious taproom doesn’t have the deliberately industrial feel as many Portland breweries do, but it feels like there’s a lot of room to spread out. It offers numerous multiple sitting areas for parties of two and four, a game shelf, and a central bar. It is kid- and dog-friendly and patrons are welcome to bring in their own food. O
n weekends, the confidently-named food truck “Shut Up and Eat It” is parked in the lot, serving homemade chili corn dogs, wings, pizza, and other pub-style food.
“Sometimes I have to explain to customers what the food truck name means— that I’m not yelling at them,” joked taproom manager Tanya Gamache.
The taproom also offers “Galley Boxes,” which are mini Ploughman’s lunches with cheese, meat, bread, pickles and roasted nuts.
Powers, who favors traditional English and Continental styles, brews two days a week. Currently, the Down Easter Pale Ale, their flagship beer is a lightly-hopped, well-balanced brew and the Shakedown Cruise Ale (which is 8.1% ABV but you’d never know it given its light, floral taste). But his Steel Cutter Stout, named after common work activity at Bath Iron Works, is worth exploring. Even beer lovers who tend to gravitate to the lagers and lighter beers will appreciate this clean, tasty black ale. One sip and a cascade of flavors hit the palate finishing with a“nicely roasted barley bite.”
This summer, Bath Ale Works, is building out its courtyard behind the taproom, set in a heavily wooded and secluded area, where patrons can enjoy a brew with family or friends and play cornhole. They’re hosting their first cornhole tournament coming up Friday, June 18.
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org