On the heels of years of impressive growth, Rising Tide Brewing Company on Fox Street is more than doubling its footprint.
To meet demand for its core beers like Zephyr and Maine Island Trail Ale, while making way for new barrel-aged creations, co-owners Heather and Nathan Sanborn are moving into the Maine Craft Distilling space next door and taking over the now-shuttered Portland’s Greener Cleaner around the corner. This is a 6,700-square-foot, two-phase expansion.
“We are really excited to have more space here. Everything is falling into place for us,” said Heather Sanborn, who was also elected in November as state representative for parts of Portland and Falmouth.
Come May, the six-year-old brewery will take over the distillery’s space, as the spirits maker moves up the hill to Washington Avenue. Half of the 3,500-square-foot expanse will become a “community meeting room, flex space for beer and community,” said Heather Sanborn, a trend that breweries like Sierra Nevada in California have embraced.
The second half will be dedicated to beer production.
The owners, both Portland natives, moved into the former cleaners Thursday. In the 3,200-square-foot addition, which they are calling The West Wing, they will barrel-age wild and sour beer, perfect new recipes, package and store this growing extension of their brand. It will also be part of their beer tour.
“We need the footage to keep up with growth as demand warrants,” said Nathan Sanborn, director of brewing operations. “This allows us the flexibility to do more projects and try out new recipes,” added Heather Sanborn.
How fast are they growing? The 21-person company graduated from 3,200 barrels in 2015 to 4,500 this year. Despite the surge, Rising Tide is not expanding distribution beyond its current markets — Maine, Boston and New Hampshire. By choosing to stay local “we can focus on freshness,” said Heather Sanborn, who oversees business operations.
Like many stalwarts in the “buy local” economy, business is coming to them. Revenue at their tasting room has risen 50 percent since they expanded it last December, she said.
This former industrial area now hosts a cluster of other breweries, like Lone Pine and One Eye Open, third-wave coffee shops like Tandem, and a new Middle Eastern restaurant is on the way. Rising Tide started the wave when it moved here in 2012.
“There is a critical mass of brewers in Portland. Beer is a tourist draw,” said Heather Sanborn. “People are coming to Portland all year long to tour breweries.”
And Yeast Bayside is ready for them.