Footbridge Brewery coming to Boothbay Harbor

Making new friends but keeping the old
Posted:  Tuesday, February 27, 2018 - 7:00am

A new small batch craft beer brewery is coming to Boothbay Harbor, and it’s named for one of the best-known icons in the harbor.

Footbridge Brewery is still in the beginning stages, as owners and best friends Nick Ullo and Dan Pangburn continue to develop new recipes and brew their unique beers for test trials.

The two have been friends for several years, and have always shared a love of beer. A few years ago, they started talking about a common dream to open a brewery.

“Both of us had brewed beer prior to brewing together,” Ullo said. “And the first beer we brewed together turned out good, so we brewed another beer. And then another.”

Beer runs through the brewers’ veins. Pangburn’s grandfather owned a brewery — one of the first to reopen after prohibition — and contracted for Haberle Congress Brewing Co. Ullo’s great-grandfather owned a pub in Minnesota.

“I’ve always had an interest in perhaps opening a bar,” Ullo said. “Dan had a similar interest, in opening a brewery, so it seemed like it was something for us to explore.”

The shared dream soon started taking shape, and the business partners began brewing beer and refining recipes together around three years ago. Last year, they started getting serious about the possibility of opening a brewery together and bringing more craft beer to the Boothbay region.

Pangburn explained some of the process of producing the different flavors.

“There’s mainly two categories of hops. There’s a bittering hop and there’s an aroma hop. You’ll get different tastes and aromas depending on what types of hops you use, and when you add them to the brew,” he said.

As of now, the partners have settled on three different recipes. They call one the SMaSH series. “Nick and I both had recipes that we really loved,” Pangburn said. “But 99 percent of our ingredients are being sourced from Maine, and most of those recipes call for ingredients that are not available in Maine.”

SMaSH is an acronym for Single Malt and Single Hop. They started out very basic, using one malt and one hop, then they started tasting. “We went through six renditions,” Ullo said. “The nice thing about doing it that way is that it’s very controlled. You can use one of each, and the next time you brew, you can change to a different type of hop, and you can really taste the difference. This allows us to zero in on what flavors we like from certain hops and certain malts, and what we don’t like. But what’s fascinating is that we haven’t made a SmaSH that we didn’t like.”

The second brew they introduced is called Winterbush, with coriander, orange peel, lemon zest and ginger. “People need to be prepared for this one,” Ullo said. “It’s really different. It’s warming, it’s tasty, and it has a nice smell.”

And there will be a blueberry beer, made with Maine blueberries. “It changes the color of the beer and makes it pretty unique,” Ullo said. “It’s very purple.”

A fourth brew, using jalapeno and habanero peppers, is still in the experimental stage. As the name implies, it’s spicy. Pangburn said it’s good paired with anything with a red sauce and dough (pizza) and tortillas. “It has a great jalapeno smell,” Ullo said. “It’s very different, but it’s still beer.”

A couple different hard ciders will be in the mix, too. One is a tart cherry hard cider, created by Ullo.

Ullo explained that a lot of micro breweries have one or a few standard beers they offer year-round, and a rotating tap, where more seasonal ingredients are introduced, to warm you in the winter and cool you in the summer.

The brewers will determine which beers work for them, and which don’t, but they said it’s the consumers who will ultimately determine what’s seasonal and what’s year-round.

Ullo, originally from Pennsylvania, came to Boothbay Harbor to work for the Boothbay Region Land Trust in 2012. Pangburn, who works for Osman Page, came to the Boothbay area three years ago from outside Ithaca, New York.

Thanks to a pretty rigorous following on Facebook, where they’ve been posting teasers, Ullo and Pangburn said they’ve had quite a few curious people stop by their temporary brewery in an undisclosed location. “It’s been great meeting all the people who’ve come in and tasted our beer,” Ullo said. “And I think everyone, so far, has enjoyed it.”

Contrary to some talk around town, the brewery will not be at the footbridge house, or the Bridge House, as owner Pam Burke calls it. “We were getting lots of calls asking what we were doing,” she said in an email. “Everyone thought the brewery was going to be in the Bridge House.”

There’s not a designated location for the brewery yet, but the partners are hoping to secure a spot close to the entrance to the west end of the footbridge.

Ullo said the name Footbridge Brewery was an obvious choice. “When we got serious about opening a brewery here in Boothbay Harbor, we tossed around a few different names, and I tried to think of something that’s unique here and perhaps speaks to not just the people who live here, but also the people who visit. One of the most unique features of Boothbay Harbor is our footbridge.

“It’s famous, it’s been around for so long and survived for so long, and we expect our brewery will do the same. It ties us locally to Boothbay Harbor, and hopefully we’ll be able to attract even more beer drinkers down to the Boothbay peninsula, by having two craft breweries here.

“We’re committed to doing this, and it’s going to happen. If we could blink our eyes and make it happen right now, we’d make it happen. But it will happen in time, and we’re getting there.”

The two men said brewing beer has been a great experience. “It’s a lot of fun when you’re making beer with people you love.” Pangburn said. “Other than getting to brew with best friends and family, we love meeting the people who have come in. We’ve made a lot of new friends since we started brewing beer.”

“New friends are coming out of the woodwork,” Ullo said with a grin. “There are a lot of friends out there.”

Footbridge Brewery beer isn’t available for sale yet. They hope to start selling their beers by 2019. “Right now we’re just Dan and Nick – future brewery owners, refining our recipes, and finalizing our business plan,” Ullo said.

Check out Footbridge Brewery on Facebook.