FREEPORT — Maine Beer Co. is nearing completion of the first part of a two-phase expansion and renovation that will help double its annual production to about 24,000 barrels.
Anne Marisic, marketing and events coordinator for the brewery, said she expects the first phase, which began about a year ago, to be completed this spring at 525 U.S. Route 1. Soon after that, phase two will begin.
The first phase adds a production room and office space to the rear of the building that allows the brewery to shift from operating a 15-barrel brewing system to 60 barrels.
The new production space will also hold 120- and 240-barrel fermenters in addition to the brewery’s existing fermenters, which hold 30 and 60 barrels, respectively.
“We’ve been operating close to capacity for a little bit now,” Marisic said. “This is going to help us meet the needs of the market that we’re currently in and give us a lot more space to do what we want to do.”
The second phase will turn the production room, now at the center of the building, into an expanded space for public tasting.
“We’ve been lucky to be very successful and obviously the demand is high,” Marisic said. “Our current tasting room is pretty tiny, and people come.”
Once both phases are complete, the brewery will be more than 26,000 square feet. It will also increase available parking from 30 spaces to 125 and add more outdoor seating.
The expansion was designed by Attardo Pondelis Architecture in Yarmouth and the contractor is Zachau Construction in Freeport.
Marisic said the company did not want to comment on the cost of the project, especially while it is continuing.
The owners of the brewery — brothers David and Dan Kleban — submitted a conceptual plan to the Freeport Planning Department in July 2016 to add 20,330 square feet to the 6,000-square-foot facility.
The expansion was necessary to keep up with production and give employees “proper office space,” the plan said.
To keep up with production in Freeport, the brewery is also planning to expand its distribution center in Westbrook.
The brewery, which has had a distribution and storage warehouse in Westbrook since 2013, is moving into a 30,000-square-foot space at 15 Saunders Way. The newly constructed space is expected to be completed by June.
Marisic said the brewery will move all distribution operations to the new location and will vacate its space at 2 Karen Drive. She was uncertain about the size of the current warehouse.
Marisic said the new warehouse will better meet the brewery’s growing needs.
“The expansion is part of our natural growth as a business,” she said. “We’ve been looking to grow and this helps us do that.
Maine Beer Co. will be leasing the new warehouse from J.B. Brown & Sons of Portland. Marisic said the expansion will require the addition of one or two employees.
Other than adding a few more employees to the production line, Marisic said their staff hasn’t increased much as a result of the expansion of their Freeport campus, where the current production capacity is 12,000 barrels a year.
Although they’re still in a transition period and brewing on the old, 15-barrel system, Marisic said the company has “great plans for the year ahead in terms of increased sales and . . . keeping the market saturated.”
“We’re going to take things nice and slow for now,” Marisic said. “We want to be sure we’re producing the same quality people have come to love.”
Kate Gardner contributed to this report.
The 20,330-square-foot expansion at Maine Beer Co. in Freeport includes a new production room and office space. The brewery will double its current capacity of 12,000 barrels a year. (Jocelyn Van Saun/The Forecaster)