Bigelow Brewing in Skowhegan plans to quadruple beer production

SKOWHEGAN – Pam and Jeff Powers had a great week.

On Tuesday, the Skowhegan Board of Selectmen gave the town’s development office permission to file a letter of intent to apply for a $180,000 grant for their Bigelow Brewing Co.

The couple took delivery of 96 full-size utility poles to be used to build a new hop-growing yard on Thursday, the same day they released their new beer – Avery Peak 4088, a summer wheat beer made from hops. orange and coriander.

When the couple opened their brewery on Bigelow Hill Road in May 2014, there were about 47 microbreweries in Maine, company vice president Pam Powers said. There are now 62 and 12 more are expected to open this year.

The plan is to quadruple Bigelow Brewing’s operation, and Powers said it was warranted.

“I don’t know of any struggling breweries in Maine,” she said. “We had an increase in sales every month. We are selling at full capacity. We sell all the products that we can manufacture. We can’t do it fast enough. We turn away customers every week.

If the federal economic and community development grant is approved, the couple will need at least a lot more to expand the brewery from the old 50-foot stable for a new 15-barrel brewery. They currently operate with three barrels. They also want to add a one-acre hop-growing yard, expand the garage for storage and fully landscaping an outdoor patio, where they will offer slices of wood-fired pizza, beer samples and local entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. They will also host fundraising events, weddings and rehearsal dinners.

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Additionally, they plan to start canning their beverages for sale.

The couple opened with two beers in 2014 – Dementia Dog, a double IPA (India pale ale) with five types of hops that has an alcohol content of 7.9% by volume, and Lying Bastard, which is at 4.9. % alcohol.

They have since added Bigelow Brown Ale, Jail Break Chocolate Chili Stout – made with New Mexico tomato chili – and, starting Thursday, Avery Peak 4088, the number indicating the elevation of Avery Peak in the nearby Bigelow Range.

“We can make about 100 gallons of brew on this system,” Powers said Thursday as she, husband Jeff and daughter Jordan, 26, brewed a batch of Avery Peak. She said that by going from three to 15 barrels, “our system will be able to do 450 gallons, and we’ll have four fermenters that will hold 1,000 gallons.”

They hope to brew 3,000 gallons over the course of a month, with some beers taking 14 days to finish and others taking half that time.

“Our business plan allows us to start at around 2,000 gallons per month and scale production as demand increases,” said Jeff Powers.

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Jeff Powers works full-time at Catalyst Paper in Rumford. Pam Powers is a retired teacher from Skowhegan Middle School.

The couple began converting the 36-by-48-foot stable in 2011 and initiated the state and federal licensing process.

The Powers brew around 100 gallons of beer each week, most of which is stored in an on-site cooler, ready to be sold at the brewery and taps at local restaurants and pubs and in 22-ounce bottles and 64-ounce growlers. for local stores. .

Commercial utility poles will be driven into the ground 14 feet apart. Each post will have a cable system on top and a string attached to the ground for the hops to grow. A hop plant can grow 12 inches per day during the summer, and the plants take about three years to fully mature for harvest, Pam Powers said.

“We’re also fencing that next year, and we’re going to get the grass eaten by the sheep, and the chickens will be there to keep the bugs away from the hops,” she said. “We will try to do everything organic if we can.”

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