With the Grand Opening of Barreled Souls Brewing Company tomorrow, Maine's beer scene continues its inexorable rise. Founded by Matt Mills and head brewer Chris Schofield, the new Saco brewery in the basement of a law office on Route 1 will open its doors to the public from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. on Saturday, July 19. Food trucks Maine-ly Meatballs, Gusto's, and Fishin' Ships should be staggering their appearances from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. Mills says he expects to have 12 beers on tap, an impressive number for a brand new brewer. Barreled Souls intends to focus heavily on its public tasting room, which is roughly three-quarters of the entire brewery's small floor plan and includes a shuffleboard table, as well as a variety of oak barrel furniture repurposed by River Drive Lumber. If all goes well, the tasting room will be open regularly Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday 4 to 12 p.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m., and Sunday 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
This will change if it's not busy enough during some of those hours or if it's so busy that Schofield can't produce enough beer to keep up. Beers will be served in 8oz or 14oz glasses for anywhere from $3 to $6 depending on alcohol content and rarity. Growlers for take-home beer will become available when the owners feel they have enough beverage inventory. For now, the idea of selling other breweries' beer has been put on hold.
The brewery, which uses a 3 bbl Burton Union fermentation system (1bbl is 31 gallons), may be the only one in the world fermenting exclusively in oak barrels, partly because barrels are limiting in capacity as compared to stainless steel vessels. The Burton Union, once in wide use by brewers in namesake Burton upon Trent, is no longer industry standard, though a handful of companies, including California's Firestone Walker, still ferment a portion of their beers this way. Wort (unfermented beer) is made in the stainless steel brewhouse equipment, and is then transferred to two whiskey barrels connected by a catchment system for harvesting yeast as it bubbles to the top. Modern beer is typically fermented in stainless steel vessels with conical bottoms for dumping or harvesting yeast as it settles to the bottom.
For more in-depth explanations of the fermentation set-up and the reasons behind it, see last week's "Ask Me Anything (AMA)" on Reddit, during which Schofield fielded questions from the virtual crowd. When pressed on the benefits of his unusual system, Schofield ultimately opined, "Sometimes you just have to trust your intuition and take some risks." The AMA was a huge boon for the company's Kickstarter campaign, which at the time of writing has two days left and has successfully raised the $15,000 the brewery was seeking. The funds are meant to help the owners purchase additional barrels in which to age some of their beers, a process that occurs after fermentation with different goals.
· Barreled Souls Brewing Company [Website, Facebook, Twitter]
· Bring on the barrels! [Kickstarter]
· Ask Me Anything [Reddit]
· All Barreled Souls Coverage [-EME-]