“The time is right because the time is now and you only live once,” Bear Bones Beer co-owner Eben Dingman, right, said. Dingman and co-owner Adam Tuuri, left, hope to have their brewery and tasting room open this spring on Lisbon Street in Lewiston. Sun Journal photo

LEWISTON — Neither the single-digit temperatures nor the barren walls of 43 Lisbon St. chilled Adam Tuuri and Eben Dingman on Tuesday as they pulled bits of packing plastic off a row of pristine, stainless steel beer-brewing kettles.

The men shivered and smiled.

“That’s my life savings right there,” Tuuri said. For more than a year, the kettles sat in his Lewiston garage while he and Dingman worked on finding the right place for their business: Bear Bones Brewery.

Finally, they found it in a vacant downtown storefront that still has some of the signs from its past life as the J.J. Newberry department store.

“We’ve put everything that we have into this project,” Dingman said.

Plans call for the pair to open a brewery and tap room this spring. They expect to make small batches of beer that can only be found at their shop and purchased in their special bottles.

They hope it helps fill the growing niche for food-related businesses on Lisbon Street that includes Fuel Restaurant, Marche Kitchen and Wine Bar and Forage Market.

“It’s a point of pride,” Dingman said. “We want to do something that the city can be proud of.”

Both men were born in Lewiston and graduated in 2002 from Leavitt Area High School in Turner.

After school, Tuuri taught English in South Korea and learned glass blowing before settling on brewing.

“It was the only thing I was really passionate about,” he said. “It was pushing me to do something.”

After high school, Dingman went to school for business and taught English in Mexico City.

Years later, the friends reconnected and began brewing beer.

“We started brewing weekly and then it was all the time,” Tuuri said.

Soon, they started talking about selling their brews.

“We have faith in both our beers and in our business plan,” Dingman said. “The time is right because the time is now. You only live once.”

They worked on a couple of locations before settling on the former department store, owned by Eric Agren of Fuel.

“One lesson you learn is that there are setbacks,” Tuuri said. For more than a year, the kettles sat in his garage as they worked on securing the location.

“I never unwrapped them,” he said.

Meanwhile, they worked on their beer name, which grew out of their aim to keep it simple. The storefront operation will likely stay that way for a while.

They might eventually hire a person or two to run the tap, but they plan to keep the whole affair relatively intimate.

“The main idea is that people can come in, try our wares and walk out with a sealed container that they can take home to drink,” Tuuri said.

When they are done with the bottle — secured with a resealable swing-top cap — they can bring it back for a washing and a refill. The 750-mL bottles will cost $5 or so and another still-undetermined price to fill them.

Plans call for three everyday beers — an India Pale Ale, a rye brown ale and an imperial cream ale. They will also have a fourth beer made from constantly changing recipes.

And though Lewiston already has one growing beer brewery — Baxter Brewing — there’s room for Bear Bones, Tuuri said.

“We’re excited. People know that Baxter is in Lewiston and it’s extremely successful here in Maine,” he said. “We’d like people to think of Lewiston as ‘Brewiston.'”

So far, their reception has been good when they’ve offered free samples of their beers to the public.

“The beer scene could be more diverse,” Tuuri said. “We’ve gotten a really good response from the community.”

“Of course, it’s hard to gauge reaction when you’re giving out free beer,” Dingman said.

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