Review of Shipyard Brewery


Located on the north side of Portland, Maine is Shipyard Brewery. Opened since May, 1994 the 22 ounce bottles are now finding their way to summer tourist crowds are accommodated by frequent tours of the facility that start with an introductory film in a small decorated viewing room. The system uses British malts along with American and Canadian hops (both pellet and whole leaf) in a English-style wood-clad mash tun co-developed by brewer Allan Pugsley. A unique feature was the mash-ring device used for the 90 minute single temperature infusion mashing schedule. The brick-clad brew kettle was direct-fired and visually impressive. Spent grains are sent down a shoot to waiting trailers where they are hauled off. After the whirlpool, on the way to the open 50 and 100 barrel stainless steel fermenters the process takes advantage of a locally-developed "hop percolator" device. Authentic English Ringwood yeast sustains the six-day fermentation period after which a 24 hour cold conditioning period takes place in the bright beer tanks. Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filtering follows and CO2 force carbonation precedes the bottling stage where up to 4,000 bottles per hour are handled.

The up close and personal tour offered a great opportunity to the inner workings of an operation that blends the traditions found in English breweries with the high-tech systems of the 1990's. The spacious layout allowed for first floor stainless steel hot liquor tanks where some initial water treatment takes place. The second story brewhouse offered quite a view of the surrounding old brick neighborhood as well as the numerous odd-shaped vessels inside. The Peter Austin boil kettles were accompanied by dozens of 50 and 100 bbl vessels used for fermentation, conditioning and bright beer purposes. Inside one large temperature-controlled room was even a 300 bbl square fermentation tank.

Lacking a state liquor license, no on premises tasting was allowed, instead, the most memorable moment came from seeing the next batch's yeast slurry waiting to be pitched. It was sitting in an open 30 gallon plastic bucket that looked remarkably like a home garbage can. Following the tour there was the opportunity to shop at the merchandise room that fortunately stocked a full range of Shipyard bottled beer in addition to shirts, caps, and memorabilia. A search for the draft products won't take long, it's available just across the parking lot at a nearby restaurant and bar.

The Goat Island Light Ale was a light straw color with the pronounced carbonation producing a thick white head. The assertive hop aroma was followed by a light body but good mouthfeel. Although a malt presence was not evident, the hop flavor was very crisp and led to a similar aftertaste. From the label, consumers would learn that this 1 pint 6 FL. OZ. bottle contained 110 calories, 5.0 grams carbohydrates, 1.0 grams protein, and 0.0 grams fat. Standing out from crowd was the Old Thumper ESA with its slightly cloudy dark straw color, minimal head, medium body, intense malt and hop aroma, very sharp hop flavor and aftertaste. Available "under a unique arrangement between England's Ringwood Brewery", the yeast used definitely contributes to the characteristic esters that dominate the flavor profile. Curious consumers can read the history of Old Thumper from the label of the 22 ounce bottle. Also characteristically English, the Chamberlain Pale Ale was a clear amber color topped by a fine white head. Strong hop aromas foreshadowed the sharp hoppy flavor that followed. Overall, the medium body combined with the underlying maltiness made for a very full-flavored pale ale.

Look for brewery tours daily from 3 to 5 PM. For more information, call 1-800-BREWALE.

Shipyard Brewing Company
N. 86 Newbury St.
Portland, Maine 04101

Kennebunkport Brewing Company & Federal Jack's Brew Pub
8 Western Avenue
Kennebunkport, Maine 04043

Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri - August, 1996

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