A trio of University of Southern Maine grads are turning a vacant shed in East Bayside into Portland’s smallest brewery. How small? In 500 square feet the 20-somethings will brew a barrel and a half at a time: that’s about nine kegs a run at One Eye Open Brewing Company.
“It’s a neat little spot, tucked in from the road and secluded,” said Lucas Marks, a home brewer who joins his USM alum and former baseball players Brett Barrett, 25, and Charlie Partridge, 24, in the ale adventure.
The 41 Fox Street space, known as The Foxhole, held popup events down through the years, but had been empty for some time. They leased the low-slung garage from realtor Jed Rathband in November and have been diligently retrofitting with old barn board and a heap of DIY spirit. They plan to open in mid-June with a tasting room and beer garden in the courtyard.
“We have cobbled together our pennies and are doing it piecemeal. We are not buying top-of-the-line equipment,” said Marks, who could say that again.
An upcycled brew system of stainless steel olive oil drums for kettles and molasses vessels-cum-fermentors, will soon turn out IPAs and other styles under development. “We are collecting pieces of equipment and ideas to save money,” said Barrett, who commutes over from Keene, New Hampshire on weekends to work on the space. “Starting small allows us to hone our craft without the burdens of an upscale brewery,” added Marks.
Refreshingly, the newcomers did not launch a Go Fund Me site or seek outside bucks. “We are willing to work hard and build a customer base,” said Marks, one beer lover at a time.
If Allagash and Shipyard are in danger of being shanghaied by Big Beer, One Eye Open is the anti-corporate alternative launched by college roommates who learned to brew in an apartment on State Street.
“These three guys are taking East Bayside by storm, bootstrap style,” said Rathband. “Their investment is yet another example of how East Bayside is developing into one of the most dynamic neighborhoods in Portland, if not all of Northern New England.”
Opening on the heels of Lone Pine around the corner on Anderson Street, steps from Rising Tide and a hop from Bunker, how can this nano stand out?
“Portland is very receptive to the craft industry,” said Barrett, who is targeting the city’s bottomless crop of indie restaurateurs. “You could say it’s a saturated market, but that bodes well. People in Portland are always willing to try something new.”