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