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Something's brewing in Bangor

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Geaghan's launches brewery

BANGOR - Guinness evokes images of Ireland. You can't mention Pennsylvania without someone bringing up Yuengling. Boston has Sam Adams. Even Portland has Shipyard. Locally-brewed beers are a point of pride for many communities. But Bangor doesn't have a beer. Well, it didn't.

Geaghan's Pub has expanded and added Geaghan Bros. Brewery, where they are already brewing up several tasty beers that are due to be offered to patrons of the Pub as of Dec. 3.

'This is our baby,' said Andrew Geaghan. 'A big piece of my coming back and working here was getting this project off the ground.'

And the project was a whirlwind, taking only about two years from dream to groundbreaking reality, to the delicious taste of brewed beer.

The concept tied in perfectly with Geaghan's Beervana special, where the restaurant featured a new specialty beer each week and had participants rate the quality. But it also ties into some good-natured family ribbing as well.

'It stems from my brother and I making fun of my dad (Larry Geaghan) ordering a Miller Lite no matter where we [were],' Andrew said with a laugh. 'Beer is really about place. It's a cultural thing and has the potential for hometown pride. And there's just better beer out there than the big, hugely manufactured thing. That spurred Beervana.'

He said that his father saw people had an enthusiasm for craft beers that went beyond just drinking. That potential for a more local experience with beer - and a shot at hometown bragging rights - was part of the impetus to create their own.

Which Larry confirmed.

'[Initially], I didn't care what my kids said about my taste in beer. Before Beervana, when we went to a place my kids would see what was different and I'd see if they had Miller Lite,' said Larry. But having Beervana, which introduced a new specialty beer each week allowed Larry to expand his palate. 'I tried them. There are things I just don't like, but there are a whole bunch of beers that are a lot different than Miller Lite, that I do like.'

And he intends to keep those popular domestic brews on tap for people who have always, and will always enjoy them.

But all the hometown pride in the world does not a good beer make. It helps if you happen to be friends with an award-winning craft brewer - Jason Courtney. Courtney has won six medals at the Great American Beer Festival (GABF), two awards from the World Beer Cup, and in 2002 was named Brewmaster of the Year by GABF. He and his wife literally moved across the country in April to become part of this dream. Courtney has been brewing professionally since 1996, and homebrewing since 1990.

The team-up between Courtney and the Geaghans was actually formed at a funeral. Larry was in attendance and he happened to see Courtney's wife, Sarah, who was also an old friend of the family. He struck up a conversation with her at the time which eventually led to Jason and Sarah moving across country to return to Orrington.

When asked what he liked about the profession, he had the following to say: 'First, I like to drink good beer. It's also a pretty complex process, kind of an art and a science. I like the fact that customers enjoy the product and are really happy with it. I feel like I can take some of the stress out of their day,' he said. 'And finally, see number 1. I like good beer.'

Peter Geaghan, Andrew's uncle and co-owner of the restaurant and brewing company, is also excited about the new turn the company is taking.

'It's an opportunity for us as a business to look at new horizons and see something new for us,' he said. 'It's something new for Geaghan's and it's an opportunity for beer connoisseurs to meet us and it's a new door - a new way in. A chance to meet new people.

'And I've gone from cool uncle to really cool uncle,' he joked.

But Andrew's father and co-owner of Geaghan's Pub wanted to make sure that Andy's desire to come back was genuine, and he knew what would be involved in taking on the family business.

'The goal at the time was to get [Andrew] to try other things, get an education and don't make this [working at the restaurant] your only option,' said Larry Geaghan. 'I wanted to make sure he knew there was a big world out there. He grabbed hold of the world and took it for a ride. We sat down and we had more than one heart-to-heart. He was able to see it [the business] growing up. We sat down with my partners, my brothers and had another heart-to-heart and then put it all in writing. Once we got over that it was fun.'

One of the points of pride for the Geaghans was that most of the products and vendors they deal with are from Maine. There's an impressive list of what businesses they went through while creating the brewery and crafting the beer, and the vast majority of the long list are from Maine.

'People are really beginning to understand the importance of a local emphasis,' said Andrew Geaghan. 'The thing is, when we do well, we all do better.'

He said that after the contractors helped build the brewery onto the restaurant, he would see them take their families there for lunch and point out 'their brewery.'

'This has been fun. It's great for me to be back in the family business and be a driving force for something new,' he said. 'To come in and be able to quickly bring something to the table that broadens and strengthens and expands the business. It's every little boy's dream.'

There are also plans in the works to incorporate the beers into several signature dishes at the restaurant. For more information, be sure to find Geaghan Bros. Brewing on Facebook.

Don't miss the grand opening on Dec. 3 to try the new brews.

The Brews

Each brew's logo and description is courtesy of Geaghan Bros. Brewing.

Bangor Brown - American Style Brown Ale

Contrasting chocolate-like malt profile and a hop character specifically denote a true American style brown ale - this makes it a real crowd-pleaser. Dark and malty with a full citrus hop flavor, this brew has a history as rich and colorful as the City of Bangor.

Smiling Irish Bastard - American Strong Pale Ale

This copper color brew boasts a moderate maltiness and features grapefruit hop character. The pale is brewed with traditional Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest that lingers on the palette. The beer is named after a relative of the Geaghan's, Officer Bernie Welch, who is featured on the label - who seems to have garnered a reputation that earned him this title.

The Refueler - American Style Wheat

With its lower ABV, this American style wheat beer is designed to keep you flying longer. Proudly boasting American Hefeweizen yeast and a light hoppy bitterness cutting through this unfiltered, straw-colored beer.

The Penobscot Icebreaker - Classic Winter Ale

This classic winter ale boasts the highest alcohol content and has a hint of spices to warm you up on a cold winter's night.

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