Lobster, beer and good friends

Craft beer taps to flow at Lincolnville Beach with new local brewery

Tue, 01/14/2014 - 8:15am

    LINCOLNVILLE BEACH — The pros who know how to make beer in Lincolnville are teaming up with the pros who know how to cook a lobster, and come spring, Lincolnville Beach will be the place to find ales crafted right there at the Lobster Pound Restaurant.

    It’s a homegrown affair for Lincolnville, and one with roots that run deep in the community: Two longtime local businesses are joining forces into one new corporation that will operate at the Lobster Pound, the large, rambling restaurant that has anchored beach business for 58 years, serving lobster and seafood at tables overlooking the west side of Penobscot Bay.

    At the helm of this new venture will be Lobster Pound owner Richard McLaughlin and Andrew’s Brewing Company founder Andy Hazen, supported by family and friends, who are all investors, as well as worker bees. The goal is to get it up and running by April, or soon thereafter. Between now and then lies much construction work and several brewery licenses to obtain. (There is also Toboggan Nationals, for which Andy is constructing a new swift sled in the barn next to the brewery on High Street, but that’s a whole other story.)

    The Lobster Pound Restaurant will open as usual, at the beginning of May.

    “It all started one day last July when my son, Rick, started throwing the idea around of getting a brew pub down here,” said McLaughlin. “Andy was thinking about expanding his place, so we figured there was more room at the Lobster Pound to do what we needed to do.”

    McLaughlin and Hazen — the two Lincolnville elders — were up on High Street, at the home of Andrew’s Brewing Company, on an icy January morning. With them were three other principals and investors in the new corporation (its official name is the Lobster Pound Restaurant DBA Andrew’s Brewery): Andy’s son, Ben Hazen, also of Lincolnville; Sean Duffelmeyer, of Northport; and Jim Tyler, of Searsmont.

    Ben Hazen works with his father, brewing, bottling and distributing the signature Andrew’s Brewing Company, which has been a local craft operation since 1992. Duffelmeyer is a marine engineer for the oil industry off the Louisiana coast, and Tyler is a contractor. 

    How did they all get together?

    “Beer!” they laughed, lifting glasses of Andrew’s darker ale in a collective toast.

    There are a few others involved in the venture, including Patricia, wife of McLaughlin, along with their son, Joe; Dave Perkins, who is an attorney; and Dick Sproul. 

    “We bought into Dick’s business,” said Andy Hazen. “He could have been going to deeper pockets, but he wanted to keep it local.”

    The  vision is simple: “Lots of people drinking good beer and eating lots of seafood,” said McLaughlin. 

    That includes serving inventive brews of this new enterprise, as well as offering guest taps for other Maine breweries on a changing basis — Gritty’s, Shipyard, Penobscot Bay... the list is long in Maine, a state well known for its craft beer and micro-breweries. 

    “Our state is home to over 30 breweries, which produce more than 200 different brands,” says the home page of the Maine Brewers Guild, the nonprofit that puts together the Maine Beer Trail, a guide to craft breweries throughout the state.

    And the new Lincolnville Beach venture is collegial not only with other breweries, but with local wineries and distilleries. The new bar will host wine from CellarDoor Winery and Savage Oaks, as well as the Maine crafted alcohol, such as Sweetgrass Winery and Distillery’s Back River Gin and Three Crow Rum.

    While the plans are big and include renovating the inside of the Lobster Pound, both McLaughlin and Hazen emphasize that the Lobster Pound Restaurant will remain intact, serving meals as usual. And, McLaughlin will retain the gift shop that has always been popular with tourists. There, shoppers will also find brew pub items, including growlers, pint glasses, T-shirts, as well as the novelty lobster gifts.

    What will be different is the addition of a custom brewery, a pub menu, and a bar, on one side of the building. That’s where Hazen and crew will set up the new 150 to 210-gallon beer making system, experimenting with new flavors. 

    Dick McLaughlin described the layout: The Lobster Pound Restaurant — McLauglin’s restaurant — will operate on the right side of the building (as one faces the water), in the familiar dining area. The new brewery will occupy the left side of the building near Frohock Brook.

    And even though the Hazens will be down at the beach, it will remain business as usual up on High Street, as Andrew’s Brewery Co. will continue brewing and bottling its line of beers there. That business will remain separate from this new brewery venture, whose name is still being debated.

    “The Board of Directors has not decided on a name,” they officiously proclaimed, raising their glasses.

    “Andy’s Brew Pub,” suggested Tyler.

    “It could be,” nodded Andy Hazen, and then said, “Andy’s Beachside Brew Pub... I like that.”

    The beach and the water is the draw, and the plans, even though it’s just January, are well under way to include building outdoor seating, ripping out the floor of the Lobster Pound Restaurant and installing a cold room, building a 25-foot bar, and installing taps that will run right to the beer tanks — “there’s no kegging,” said Ben Hazen. Though, they do plan to eventually bottle and sell the new line of beer in the gift shop of the Lobster Pound.

    As soon as the building permit is secured (the Lincolnville Planning Board approved the project Jan. 8), construction will begin.

    Who’s doing the construction?

    “We are,” they said, laughing again.

    “We have a lot of talent,” said Andy Hazen.

    “And we’ll enlist anyone’s help,” added Ben.

    “It’s going to be fun,” said Andy. “If you ask anyone from Skowhegan and Waterville where they go when they go to the shore, they go to the Lobster Pound.”

    There is no arguing that the Lobster Pound is an established business on the Beach. For 58 years, it has been cooking and selling lobster during the warmer months. The Carver Family started it in 1926, then sold it to Andy Cobb, who sold it to Richard Chase. Dick McLaughlin worked for Chase and in 1957, Barney and Ruth McLaughlin (Dick’s parents) bought it. In 1972, Dick and his brother, Neil, acquired it, and in 1990, Dick bought his brother’s share. 

    Since then, the McLaughlins have owned it, and Dick sold the Lobster Pound take-out to his son, Rick.

    Now, the Lobster Pound embarks on a new, expanded era, although Dick is clear to say that the menu, and restaurant, will maintain the traditional family appeal for which it has always been recognized.

    The group is raring to go, and will be down at the Beach as soon as the permits are in place. They hope eventually the enterprise — the restaurant and brewery — will be open year-round, “so there will be something going on down at the Beach year-round,” said Andy.

    With their high spirits, good humor, individual skills and strong business sense, these new corporate officers are ready to energize the town.

    And so far, they say there’s been no fisticuffs about anything.

    “That’s because we’re not sobered up, yet,” laughed Tyler.

    Editorial Director Lynda Clancy can be reached at lyndaclancy@penbaypilot.com; 706-6657.