NEW GLOUCESTER — Two longtime friends are “all in” on their partnership to create a brewery in New Gloucester, which they plan to open in October.
The NU Brewery (pronounced “new”) will be located at 437 Lewiston Road in an 7,600-square-foot industrial building that was formerly home to a farm equipment company, and is currently being renovated.
The brewing business is a project two years in the making for President Chris Ventimiglia, who lives in Freeport, and CEO Russell Voss, who lives in New Gloucester.
Both have experimented with home-brewing over the years, but Voss called his partner “the creative genius” behind the NU beer.
“Everything we’ve done has been collaboration,” Ventimiglia said.
As the name indicates, the brewers are looking to do new things in an increasingly crowded Maine beer scene.
Their flagship beer will be a craft American light lager – a craft brewer’s take on light beer that the duo hopes will appeal to people who may not have a taste for heavier, hoppier craft beers.
“We found a category with our craft American light lager that no one’s doing anything with in Maine from a craft prospective,” Voss said. “Everybody’s really focused on IPAs and getting into stuff that’s session-oriented or sours.”
Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, called the craft American light lager idea “really interesting” and still sees “plenty of room” for new breweries in the state.
According to Sullivan, there are more than 100 different unique brewery brands licensed in Maine.
“Any community of a decent size is going to wind up with a brewery,” he predicted, calling the businesses “awesome community gathering hubs.”
The rotating NU Brewery tap list will feature 16 total beers, including a champagne lager as a secondary flagship, along with numerous seasonal offerings such as a schwarzbier and marzen.
Ventimiglia and Voss see space in the beer market for their product, particularly as Maine becomes a destination for craft beer enthusiasts.
Voss said there is a “big gap between Portland and Lewiston-Auburn” in terms of breweries, and thinks the NU Brewery can bridge that gap with its location on Route 100 and proximity to the Maine Turnpike in Gray.
Voss said the pair’s priority recently has been “really cleaning up this property and make it look nice.” The partners have functioned as their own demolition crew, and Benchmark Construction of Westbrook is now working to build out the roughly 50-person taproom and production area.
NU Brewery plans to can and self-distribute beer right from the start, and will have a canning line and quality control laboratory on site.
They will sell six-packs of 16 oz. cans and Voss says they’ve already received verbal commitments to have tap and shelf space at businesses from York to Androscoggin County.
Voss also showed off the biodegradable rings they’ll be using to package their cans, and the brewery will be using a modular wastewater management system to minimize waste from the brewing process.
The brewers are planning to produce 50,000 gallons of beer in their first year. More than half of that production will be dedicated to the flagship craft American light lager, which has yet to be named.
Sullivan called NU Brewery an “ambitious project” and thinks it can coexist nicely with another local brewery, Birchwood Brewing, planned in Gray.
Ventimiglia and Voss see an opportunity to collaborate with Birchwood, including sharing large shipping orders, rather than competing.
“It’s the way the whole craft beer scene is,” Ventimiglia said.
The New Gloucester Planning Board signed off on the NU Brewery site plan in January, and Voss expects the necessary state and federal licensing to be squared away by this fall while they continue to work on the site and wait for the delivery of their brewing system.
Despite both having experience in the culinary world, Ventimiglia and Voss plan to initially focus on their beer for now, but aren’t ruling out serving food in the future. They also said there could be an opportunity for food trucks at the brewery.
They say they’ve received support and excitement from folks in New Gloucester.
“We love this town and the community, and how supportive everybody is,” Voss said. “We’re both all in.”
Matt Junker can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 123 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter: @MattJunker.
NU Brewery founders Russell Voss, left, and Chris Ventimiglia say their flagship beer will be a craft American light lager.
NU Brewery founders Chris Ventimiglia, left, and Russell Voss are planning to open their business on Route 100 in New Gloucester this October.