BETHEL — Steam Mill Brewery is open and pouring cold ones on Mechanic Street.

For Brent Angevine, the head brewer, and Scott Fraser, head of sales and marketing, starting a brewery has been a dream for more than 20 years.

The duo, friends since childhood, began homebrewing in the 1990s, soon after college. But after a few years, the dream was temporarily shelved so they could dedicate more time to their families and full-time employment.

Reawakening

It was not until 2014 that Fraser and Angevine had their “light bulb moment.” While enjoying a beer at Austin Street Brewery, they  looked over the equipment and simultaneously turned to each other and said, “We can do this.”

“What they were brewing on was a one-barrel system,” Fraser said. “It was all homemade and they were doing it commercially.”

This prompted them both to dig deeper.

After talking to the owners, who worked there part time, Fraser and Angevine realized that reviving their dream could become a reality. In 2015, they began their first step toward it, which was to see if they could still brew beer.

They agreed to a pledge to brew every other week for an entire year. Out of 26 weekends, 23 of them were devoted to brewing the same four beers. Fraser emphasized the importance of brewing the beer just right. The first finished beer, “Paradise Pearl,” was a Belgian wheat, brewed specially for their wives.

After perfecting the four recipes, they shifted to the business aspect of the project. They leased the building, formerly known as Bethel Bait & Tackle, in February 2018. Outside of the plumbing and electric work, much of the renovating fell in the hands of Fraser and Angevine, who restored the bathroom, painted walls and installed the walk-in cooler. The countertops were crafted by Jeff Angevine, who specializes in finish carpentry.

After they received their state license at the end of May, brewing beer became the main task leading up to the grand opening. Angevine said having the support of other businesses in the area has made the last few months better.

“I think that it’s important that everybody works together instead of looking out for themselves,” he said. “We all need to look out for each other.”

The Steam Mill had six beers on tap for the grand opening July 21, and made sure to have a variety of flavors for its customers.

“Right now, we have a Belgian wheat, a red ale, two IPA’s, a pale ale and a porter” on tap,  Fraser said.

Fraser plans to mix up the beer list frequently.

“You can’t become complacent. You have to be constantly changing,” he said. “Everybody wants the next great thing.”

According to Fraser, the popular beer right now is the New England IPA (a beer aggressively hopped, with a fruity and sweet flavor), which the brewery hopes to complete soon.

A unique feature to each craft beer is that they are all named after local landmarks and streets in the Bethel area.

“Brent and I are old Bethel people. We’ve been here all our lives,” Fraser said. “We love Bethel history, so we’re going to incorporate that into all our names.”

Fraser stressed the importance of trying to keep everything as local as possible. All the malt required for brewing is being produced by Buck Farms of Mapleton. The potato chips sold will be from Fox Farms, also of Mapleton.

Little Lads Popcorn, made in Corinth, will be on sale, and Fraser said they plan to sell a Maine-made soda as a nonalcoholic option. The only thing they could not find in-state were hops, which they crossed the border to get in New Brunswick.

Fraser reiterated how grateful he and Angevine are about finally living out one of their dreams.

‘I don’t even know the right words to say,” Angevine said. “’Satisfying’ is one, a ‘relief’ is another. It’s been a lot of work to get to this point. It’s a long time coming.”

Added Fraser: “We’re both passionate about beer. We love beer. We love to make beer, We love to share our beer. We love to serve our beer. It’s a passion problem for us.”

The brewery plans to be open Fridays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 8 p.m.

 Behind the name

The name comes from the old steam mill that was located on Route 2 in Bethel. When Fraser and Angevine started brewing, they were doing it at Fraser’s house, which was located in the “steam mill” section of town.

The section ranged from what we now know as Savage Auto to Bethel Auto Sales. Fraser also believes the steam mill was one of the first in the state. The mill’s primary purpose was to make spools for textile factories in New England.

The new taproom and countertop at Steam Mill Brewery on Mechanic Street in Bethel.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.