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February 18, 2019
On the record

Lone Pine Brewing gets ready to roll out its Gorham tasting room in March

Photo / Jim Neuger
Photo / Jim Neuger
Tom Madden, left, and John Paul, founders of Lone Pine Brewing Co., plan to open a new tasting room in Gorham in March.

Three years after Tom Madden and John Paul founded Lone Pine Brewing Co. in Portland, the craft brewer just added five new tanks at its new Gorham facility to double its production capacity to nearly 13,000 barrels a year. The company employs 21 people with plans to hire six more.

Lone Pine's best-sellers are Portland Pale Ale, followed by Brightside IPA and Tessellation Double IPA. Madden, the company's head brewer, and business director Paul sat down with Mainebiz inside the future Gorham tasting room, still a work in progress — with oak barrels already aging sour beers — and scheduled to open in March.

Mainebiz: What can you tell us about the new tasting room?

TM: We made our transition into this facility here in Gorham in April 2018 and started producing craft beer here. The tasting room is something that at this point in the craft industry is synonymous with breweries, and the experience of visiting breweries. We're kind of off the beaten path out here, but there has been a lot of demand. We also still have our Portland location.

MB: But no plans to cut your Portland ties, right?

TM: We will always have a presence in Portland, but there will be a different energy here, which is really the idea for the Gorham tasting room.

JP: In Portland, we're usually one of even five, six stops in someone's day when they're exploring the whole scene in general. Here, people will be coming through the door to see what Lone Pine is all about.

MB: What will the new tanks allow you to do?

TM: Because they are bigger in size, they'll allow us to concentrate our core beers, the ones that take up so much of our volume, into the larger tanks, and then the smaller tanks can open up for the innovative and exciting styles that we haven't been able to really dive into quite yet. We're able to do those in smaller batches and be more meticulous with our approach.

MB: How much pressure is there to innovate on new seasonal flavors?

JP: Staying relevant is probably most important in this industry, just with how many breweries there are now. Everyone's trying to push the needle and really push everyone. Specifically in Portland, it's really hard to find a bad beer in this town. There's a bar that people have continuously set and pushed.

TM: I like to say quality breeds quality. You've got to be really good to keep up around here because everybody's doing great things. It keeps us on our toes.

MB: How did you come up with the name Lone Pine?

TM: We wanted something that embodied the state of Maine as the Pine Tree State. Also that attitude of the lone wolf, do-it-yourself, pull up your bootstraps, and make it on your own, there's a lot of that that exists here in this state. There's a cool energy to the entrepreneurial side of things here that Lone Pine embodies. Another reason the name ended up on the list is because I was fostering dogs at the time, and one or two came up from the Lone Pine Shelter in Arkansas, so maybe that's how it crept into my mind. We try to be really supportive of adoption groups locally and try to be as pet-friendly as possible.

MB: What advice would you give to someone starting in the business today?

TM: Be adaptable! We ran into every hurdle you can both good and bad, and we had issues with product being out of stock and still do, which is a good problem. We also had the journey of opening now multiple tasting rooms and learning on the fly. A lot of this is being willing to put your head down, go through the process and be pliable, and understand that challenges are going to come — and don't see it as the world when they do.

JP: From a financial perspective, give yourself a bigger buffer than you can think of in any part of the business.

TM: Or be prepared to eat Ramen for an entire summer!

JP: Tom and I had different breaking points where we had to decide, do we potentially want to take a paycheck or reinvest into the next step? I think you really need to know what you want out of the business, and part of our success is that we're very much on the same page of what we want to do.

TM: And choose the right partner. One of our best advantages is that we are able to very quickly divide tasks. I trust him to do his, he trusts me to do mine, we come through on those promises and we're able to move the ship forward together.

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