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Updated: January 4, 2022

Sebago Brewing leaving Portland to invest in other locations, canning

Exterior building of Sebago Brewing in Portland Courtesy / Sebago Brewing Co. Last call for Sebago Brewing Co. in Portland will be Jan. 29 as the brewer sells the building to focus on other locations and canning.

After more than two decades in Portland, Sebago Brewing Co. says it will close its downtown restaurant and brewpub to focus on other lines of business.

The Gorham-based brewer has agreed to sell its corner spot at 211 Fore St. to an unnamed restaurant group and use the proceeds to revamp its brewpubs in Gorham and Scarborough and expand canning in Gorham.

The brewer, which has had a brewpub in Gorham for more than 20 years, opened a tasting room at its Gorham brewery in 2018 and also has a brewpub in Kennebunk.

Kai Adams in the brewery holding a glass of beer
File photo
Kai Adams, co-founder and vice president of Sebago Brewing Co.

Sebago Brewing Vice President and co-founder Kai Adams told Mainebiz that the decision to leave Portland was difficult, saying, "We've been part of the Portland hospitality scene since 2000. We have many regulars and a long history with staff and friends over that time."

He said the sale is under contact. Details of the transaction were not disclosed.

The company said its three co-founders notified all 25 staff members in Portland in person about the planned closure and that it is working with the employees concerned about possible transfers to other locations or positions within the company. Sebago Brewing, employs close to 150 people in total.

Adams told Mainebiz that the brewer had been looking at other options for the Portland brewpub over the past year.

"We had an offer from a restaurant group and it made sense for us to redirect our resources to other other locations and to our brewery," said Adams, who founded Sebago Brewing with Brad Monarch and Tim Haines in 1998.

Based on annual production in barrels before the pandemic, Sebago Brewing was ranked No. 5 in a list of Maine's largest brewers in the latest Mainebiz Book of Lists, behind Allagash Brewing Co. (No. 1), Shipyard Brewing Co. (No. 2), Maine Beer Co. (No. 3) and Baxter Brewing Co. (No. 4)

Sebago Brewing employs 147 people in total and plans to keep its Portland brewpub open through Jan. 29.

Of the 25 employees affected by the closure, Adams said, "Fortunately, we have the resources to support them and find a home for them as we look to open all of our other locations six to seven days a week." 

What's next

As Sebago Brewing closes the chapter on Portland, it will open new chapters at its Gorham brewpub, where planned upgrades starting in late spring include a new kitchen, larger bar area and 20 tap lines. 

Plans for upgrades at the brewpub near the Maine Mall in Scarborough, open since 2009, are also in the works, and the owners plan to have all locations open six to seven days a week by spring including a brewpub in Kennebunk. 

A new state-of-the-art canning line at the company's brewery in Gorham is also planned, with new equipment currently being built in Italy able to package 200 cans a minute.

The investment comes amid continued growth in canned beer sales.

"We finished up over a record year," Adams told Mainebiz. "COVID, labor and supply chain dynamics remain a huge challenge, but demand still outpaces supply, so we are very proud to say that our 23-year-old brewery is still growing. Our focus remains on quality, efficiency and engaging our customers."

On a more general note, Adams is bullish on business and the sector as a whole in 2022, saying, "There are a ton of breweries still entering the space. Maine beer is still the best in the country, and we're happy to be a part of it. We continue to stay focused on quality, being a great place to work and offering value to our customers — all the same values we had when we started back in 1998."

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January 4, 2022
Portland and its business leaders, who want so, so very badly to posture as some cutting-edge, business innovative, highly-attractable community, really need to wake up, have some strong coffee, SEE what is going on right before their very eyes, and attempt to save the city they've invested in before it's too late. (Fun Fact: It's nearly too late. Really. It is.) I've been here for decades, work for my own small business. What we haven't poured into our community, we've poured into our home, planning to be here permanently. Now, not so much. In fact, I'm afraid of the thought of retiring here, in this town.
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