Maine is known for its vast sprawls of verdant summertime greenery, kaleidoscopic fall foliage, traditional covered bridges, scenic snowy winters, and of course, its delectable seafood. Occupying a large chunk of the northeastern U.S. coast, Maine’s ports have long been critical to the shipping trade that has been a vital component of the state’s economy since the 1700’s. But over time, shipping methods have changed, and some of the old ports and surrounding realty have fallen into disrepair. In 1992, an entrepreneurial real estate consultant, Fred Forsley, was hired to explore new options for one such troubled retail development in Kennebunk, Maine. The complex was located on the site of three historic 19th century shipyards. Fred felt he could successfully develop and sell a brew pub concept, linked to the shipbuilding history of the town. Never planning to enter the brewing business, he originally set out to sell the developed property to an interested investor. But fate intervened when Fred was introduced to British Master Brewer Alan Pugsley. Schooled and trained in the art of English ale brewing at the renowned Ringwood Brewery in Hampshire, England, under the tutelage of its founder, the legendary Peter Austin, Alan had designed breweries and formulated beers for over 65 well-known brew pubs and microbreweries worldwide, being referred to as “the Johnny Appleseed of Brewing”.
In the hopes of bringing true English-style ales to America, Alan had recently settled in Maine, bringing with him his extraordinary knowledge of English-style beer making, true English ingredients, and English brewing processes which he had perfected during his tenure with Peter Austin. Realizing the strengths that Alan could bring to a brewing establishment, and seduced by the appeal of the brewing industry, Fred hired Alan as a consultant, and they set sail into brewing history, founding Federal Jack’s Brew Pub, the birthplace of The Shipyard ales.
Federal Jack's, named for one of the most famous ships built on the site in 1908, quickly rose to local fame, with Fred and Alan seeing consumer demand for The Shipyard’s beer soar. Eager to meet the challenge of expansion, they acquired four acres on Portland's historic working waterfront in 1994, with Alan moving out of his consulting role and joining The Shipyard as Master Brewer and part owner. On April 24, 1994 they brewed their first batch of fine hand-crafted ale at their Portland brewery, and have since become the largest brewery in the state of Maine, currently celebrating their 10th year of producing fantastic beers.
Further expansion ensued, and in a unique move in October 1996, The Shipyard Brewing Company announced plans to open the world's first airport microbrewery in the Orlando International Airport. In addition to the microbrewery, which opened April 2, 1997, Host Marriott Services Corporation operates a Shipyard Brew Pub Restaurant, adjacent to the brewery. A second Host Marriott Services-operated Shipyard Brew Pub opened in the Airport in July. This exposure to international travelers has led to an impressive expansion of their line of beers, and has inspired quite a few folks, with no intentions of leaving town, to rush to the airport.
For more information about the brewery and scheduled tours, call 800-789-0684 or check out their excellent web site, complete with video footage of the brewery and staff, at www.shipyard.com.