Among all the breweries and brewpubs in Maine, Shipyard is the big momma. Alan Pugsley’s brewhaus isn’t just the biggest in Maine, though it easily passes that test at over eighty thousand barrels of beer a year. Shipyard’s massive production scale positions it as the twenty-first-largest craft beer company in the United States, ahead of well-known brands like Rogue, Victory and Long Trail—all this from an Englishman with a love for Ringwood yeast.
Pugsley started brewing in the early ’80s under the tutelage of Ringwood Brewery founder Peter Austin. When David Geary (of Geary’s Brewing Company) needed some assistance launching his brewery, he contacted and contracted Pugsley, bringing the brewer to Maine. After the launch of Geary’s, Pugsley stayed in the United States receiving and installing brewery equipment for aspiring stateside craft breweries.
In the early ’90s, Alan was back in Maine to help open Federal Jack’s in Kennebunkport—a pub that doubled as a training facility for brewers. In 1994, Pugsley decided to put down roots and start a brewery of his own. With his business partner Fred Forsley, he opened Shipyard.
Buoyed by tax incentives from Portland, the pair chose a four-acre spot to house Shipyard. The massive facility, situated on Portland’s waterfront in a former foundry building, holds the distinction of sitting on the birthplace of famed poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. It’s a heritage the brewery chose to commemorate with its seasonal Longfellow Winter Ale.
Soon after beginning operations in 1994, the Shipyard Brewing Company made a move some in the industry saw as sacrilege. Facing debt and looking to finance expansion, half the brewery was sold to the behemoth Miller Brewing Company. In retrospect, it’s hard to imagine that the deal could have worked more in the Maine brewer’s favor. By 1996, Shipyard had tripled production from thirty thousand barrels to eighty-nine thousand. Miller’s industry expertise and distribution network allowed Shipyard beers to disseminate around the country. Not only that, but the brewery soon returned to independence—Forsley and Pugsley bought Miller’s shares back in 2000.
Back in the hands of the founders, Shipyard’s runaway growth continued. By 2012, Shipyard Brewing Company was ranked as the sixteenth-largest craft beer company in the Untied States and shipped an astonishing 158,441 barrels of beer. With distribution in over forty states and a number of countries, there’s no doubt that the first Maine beer many drinkers try is one of Pugsley’s brews.
While Shipyard’s beers are a huge part of the Maine market in their own right, there are more beers brewed at its huge production facility than many beer drinkers may realize. On top of the Shipyard brand, the brewery acquired the Sea Dog, Carrabassett and Casco Bay brands in the last decade. Along with these three core brands, Shipyard contract brews beer for Gritty’s, Davidson Brothers, Belfast Bay Brewing, the Woodstock Inn and Brewery, Hartford Better Beer, St. John Brewers and a few of the Atlantic Brewing brews. Peak Organic brews at Shipyard by way of an alternating proprietorship license. About 15 percent of the production at Shipyard is devoted to contract brews.
Wheat Beer – American Pale Wheat
Summer Ale is a traditional American wheat beer with a crisp malted wheat flavor. A lively brew, it’s a clean, cool, and refreshing light bodied ale, worthy of a relaxing afternoon in the sun. This brew is an ode to summer in Maine and pairs well with lobster, beaches and sunshine. This beer is best enjoyed outside with a lime wedge.
Pumpkin / Yam Beer
Pumpkinhead is a crisp, refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spice flavor. To celebrate the fall season, we enhance the pumpkin flavor with a proprietary blend of spices including cinnamon and nutmeg. A proper pint of Pumpkinhead is served in a pint glass rimmed with sugar and cinnamon and often accompanied by a shot of spiced rum or vanilla vodka.
Prelude is a rich, nutty, full-bodied English ale with an inviting hoppy finish. This non-spiced winter warmer has a big malt presence, in both flavor and body. With an ABV of 6.7%, this seasonal specialty has a strong nutty malt flavor that’s balanced by the subtle hop notes and hints of chocolate. Prelude is named after the Kennebunkport Prelude Christmas Festival which was started in 1982 and takes place annually in Kennebunkport, Maine; the birthplace of Shipyard Brewing Company.
Bitter – Extra Special / Strong (ESB)
Old Thumper Extra Special Ale was created in 1979 by veteran British brewer, Peter Austin, founder of the Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire, England and mentor to Shipyard’s master brewer Alan Pugsley. A British Grand Champion beer, Old Thumper is a non-traditional English Bitter, brewer in the US solely by Shipyard.
A distinguished American Golden Ale, Export offers hints of malty sweetness, distinctive hop aromas, finishing clean and crisp, refreshing to almost any palate. Export is a classic brew which continues to lead the way as a drinkable, well-balanced and flavorful ale.
Pale Ale – English
The classic English style of Chamberlain Pale Ale is enhanced by its golden copper hue and creamy white head. It is dry and crisp with an aromatic hoppy finish. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain: Civil war hero. Medal of honor winner. Maine governor. President of Bowdoin College. The Chamberlain Pale Ale was created by the Shipyard Brewing Company to commemorate the extraordinary life of “the man from Maine.”
Porter – Other
The pleasing complexity of this limited edition brew comes from the interplay between the roasted nutty undertones of Crystal, Chocolate and Black malts and the sweetness of orange blossom honey. Balance is achieved by the addition of Warrior and Tettnang hops. Ample body and smooth mouth feel enhance drinkability.
Stout – Irish Dry
Blue Fin Stout is a classic Irish dry stout; full-bodied yet smooth. Dark roasted barley malts give this beer its bold, powerful flavor and body. Rich notes of roasted coffee, espresso and chocolate shine through from the chocolate malts. This beer was named after the majestic, migratory Blue Fin Tuna which return to the coast of Maine every summer. Like its namesake, this bold beer is a great catch any time of the year.