In 1983, only thirteen microbreweries existed in all of the United States, with the majority concentrated out West in states like California, Oregon, and Washington. Inspired by the idea of brewing small-batch, high-quality beer for the enjoyment of fellow New Englanders (and themselves, of course!), David and Karen Geary began D. L. Geary Brewing Company in October of that year. But they did not rush headlong into production; instead, David flew to Britain in 1984 to begin researching English and Scottish brewing and training in their techniques. Helped by Scottish brewer and nobleman Peter Maxwell Stuart, who arranged for him to work at a number of different commercial breweries in both Scotland and England, David honed his craft among some of the finest breweries in the world, including the famed Traquair House Brewery. (Situated about 20 miles south of Edinburgh, The Traquair House was built in 1107 as a hunting lodge for Scottish royalty, and is Scotland’s oldest inhabited house. Their brewery is known the world over for producing some of the finest ales in all of Great Britain.)
Meanwhile, David and Karen set to the task of building the business. They laid out their business plan, identified and purchased the property that would become home to the brewery, raised capital, bought brewing equipment, and designed packaging. It was also during this time that the recipe for what would become Geary’s Pale Ale, their flagship brew, began to take form as David drew from the tradition and technique of England’s and Scotland’s best brewers. Finally, construction of the brewery was begun in 1986 after almost two years of preparation, and in December of that year the first batch of Geary’s Pale Ale was sold. The establishment of Maine’s first microbrewery signaled the dawn of the microbrewing renaissance in New England, which now boasts scores of excellent breweries and brewpubs. Maine alone has more microbreweries per capita than all but three other states.
The region’s explosion of demand for craft beer has been good for Geary’s, and production has expanded to five full-time beers plus three seasonals. For more information or to schedule a brewery tour, call them up at (207) 878-2337 or visit www.gearybrewing.com.