CAMDEN — The roll out for the Camden location of Blaze Brewing Co. is right on schedule for a June opening. Maine restaurateur Matt Haskell took the winter to fine tune plans for the new microbewery, which is sandwiched between his two restaurants, Hoxbill, a casual fine dining restaurant overlooking the harbor on Bay View Landing and their soon-to-open Japanese counter-service izakaya, or pub, called Kurafuto. Joined in the center is the dramatic glass-enclosed microbrewery production room on the second floor with four stainless steel fermentation tanks visible from the first floor.
“Since we got started late in the season last September, the brewmasters and I had some time to decide which direction to go with the equipment,” said Haskell. “We were going to start with a smaller brew system than this, but knew when we started producing, we’d have to upgrade at some point, so we decided to do it all at the same time.”
According to Haskell, Blaze Brewing Co. is working to open in two locations, one near the Bangor near the waterfront concert stage as a pizza-brewery and one in Camden.
Shaun McNaulty is Blaze Brewing Co’s head brewmaster at the Camden location. Having worked his way up from home brewing to working for Geary’s and most recently, Funky Bow Brewery, McNaulty recently moved to Camden to work for Blaze Brewing Co.
Blaze plans to open with mainly American-style brews on tap.
"We're going to start with a Double IPA, a Ginger Witbier, a more sessionable Hoppy IPA, and a Saison,” said McNaulty. “And, we’re planning to use as many local and Maine-made products as possible.”
Haskell added that he’d recently purchased 18 acres in Blue Hill and has planted an orchard on the land.
“When those trees begin to produce, we’ll be sourcing local organic fruits for our beers,” said Haskell.
With most microbreweries functioning as beer-only tasting rooms, Haskell’s plan with Kurafuto is to provide Blaze Brewery’s beer as part of its counter service (with growlers to go) while providing Japanese small plates, noodles, sushi, and sashimi.
“We’re working on a hybrid concept, where downstairs at Kurafuto still operates as a brew pub, but with good food and outside seating,” said Haskell. “As we get going, we’re also going to be offering guest tap lines from other breweries, as well.”
Right now, Haskell is concerned with providing enough beer to his own restaurants and bars, which include his two Camden restaurants, his Bangor restaurant, Blaze, a wood-fired gastropub as well as Finback Alehouse in Bar Harbor.
“If we have enough supply, once we increase productions, we’ll get into producing small batches to keg up,” he said.
“We’re working on doing some styles that aren’t usually done.” said Haskell. “Shaun and I really like Belgian styles and sour beers. My favorite breweries are Allagash and Oxbow.”
He said his Bangor Brewer and Brewery Operations Manager Tim Wilson likes clean and traditional beers like IPAs, which will also be reflected on their beer menu.
Plans are in place for a June 1 opening. Stay tuned to their Facebook page for more information.
Photos by Kay Stephens
Kay Stephens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org