New Monmouth brewery has good things on tap

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MONMOUTH — For a year, the four founders of Grateful Grain Brewing Co., all friends and hockey dads, planned, built, brewed and hoped.

When their small craft brewery opened earlier this month, they sold out of all of their beer in nine hours.

“A lot of people have been driving by, ‘Oh, my god; we’ve seen the banner for a while, I’m so excited,'” said Ryan Cote, 39, of Monmouth. “Everybody, when they walk in, they’re like, ‘Whoa, it’s not really what I was expecting.'”

The four partners — Cote, Trevor Knell, 43, of Monmouth, Tom Langlois, 39, of Monmouth and Nick Knowlton, 38, of Lewiston — turned a former garage across from South Monmouth Market into a space that’s half shiny new brewery, half cozy hangout with a long, live-edge wood bar and seating for 20.

The idea for the brewery started five years ago with Knell and Langlois and got serious 18 months ago. They signed the lease for 26 Route 126 in February.

Planning a new business from the ground up takes some time “when you do it at night and on weekends with a full-time job,” Knell said. “For a while, every Monday we would meet and bang out a list because Ryan likes lists.”

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The initial vision, to sell kegs wholesale, shifted into having a tasting room with retail space, which triggered a major renovation.

They opened with three beers on tap: Camp Road, an imperial pale ale; The Experience, a New England style IPA; and Dragin Magick, a red ale named by Knell’s then-6-year-old son when that recipe started out as a home brew in his basement.

Customers bought 72 growlers in nine hours.

“I think we all thought it would be busy, but a slow and steady, not line-out-the-door busy,” said Cote, who estimated that nine out of 10 customers lived within a  5- to 6-mile radius.

The four joke that it’s the first, largest and only brewery in Monmouth.

They plan to have four styles on tap, sold by 12-ounce pour, 4-ounce taster or 32-ounce growler to go. Food will be served eventually. For now, customers can bring in takeout from South Monmouth Market.

Also planned: featuring local musicians some nights and having food trucks outside.

All four invested in the company and launched it without borrowing capital, and for now, profits will go back into the business.

“We opened Sunday; we bought new fermenters Monday,” Langlois said.

Eventually, the founders hope to buy land somewhere in Monmouth for a larger facility, ideally one capable of hosting events.

Each friend has a main focus: Knell is the brewer, Langlois is the manager, Cote is the carpenter and Knowlton is the tech and social media specialist.

“We all have our strengths,” Knowlton said. “It’s like a perfect blend.”

Grateful Grain Brewing Co. is open Friday from 4 to 8 p.m., Saturday from noon to 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., as long as beer is available.

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Business partners and friends, from left, Trevor Knell, Ryan Cote, Tom Langlois and Nick Knowlton, opened Grateful Grain Brewing Co. , Monmouth’s only brewery, earlier this month. They sold out of beer in their first nine hours of business. (Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal)

A sign on the wall at Grateful Grain Brewing Co. in Monmouth lists the first three styles on tap. They have four tap lines and plan to rotate offerings. (Kathryn Skelton/Sun Journal)

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