ROCKLAND—Approximately 500 people went through the doors of the brand new Rockland Rock Harbor Brewing Co. facility and tasting room the weekend of July 14-16 for the Grand Opening, just in time for the peak summer crowds.
The three-day event indicated the last three years of expansive growth for the brewery with live music all day from multiple bands, giveaways and grilled food from Blaze Food Truck. The building, off Route 1 in Rockland, and formerly inhabited by Mathews Brothers, was once a showroom for kitchen design. Owner Dan Pease bought the vacated building in November, 2016, because his small four-barrel operation located at the Rock Harbor Pub & Brewery Main Street location in Rockland just wasn’t producing enough.
“We were barely able to make enough beer to supply our our pub, much less distribute to anyone else,” he said.
With the new facility, Pease can now boost production from 165 barrels a year to approximately 2,000 barrels with the goal to sell more beer to bars around the state.
“In the coming weeks, we’ll be distributing not only our kegs, but also now, we are canning three beers to distribute,” he said.
The three brands they have in cans now are Breakwater Wheat, Twin Screw Pale ale and CopperHouse ESB, which can be purchased on site.
Decorated in walls painted a cheery blue and yellow walls with barn board, the new tasting room space has comfortable couches, tables and chairs and capacity for about 40 people inside. Outside on their patio, there’s room for 50 people.
“We’re dog friendly, which is a nice thing, because we don’t serve food here,” he said.
The new tasting room serves five of Rock Harbor Brewery’s nine staple beers along with flights and people can even take a tour of the 15-barrel stainless steel brewing system.
Rock Harbor Pub opened in 2011 when Pease, then, a home brewer, had visions of turning the restaurant into a brew pub. In the Pilot’s 2013 story on Pease, he turned that dream into a reality with a glass-enclosed brew room containing a copper and stainless steel system people could see from Main Street. He was only brewing three beers at that point. Today, Rock Harbor Brewing Co. (still the only craft brewpub in Rockland) produces five to 10 signature brews year round, favoring ales and stouts.
Maine’s burgeoning craft brew movement began in 1986 (some say on par with Seattle’s beer scene) and is now home to more than 30 breweries and 200-plus brands.
Josh Christie, author of Maine Beer: Brewing In Vacationland said: “The Midcoast is a wonderful microcosm of Maine's three decades of craft brewing. It has breweries like Andrew's doing traditional English ales, the style that launched the revolution. And it has an ‘extreme’ brewer in Marshall Wharf, which is at the forefront of Maine's continuing beer revolution. With strong support of these (and other) Maine breweries at beer stores and restaurants around the region, it's a fantastic place to explore the panoply of Maine-made beer.”
Kay Stephens can be reached at email@example.com