Maine craft beer is kind of like Sunday River’s snow in that they both have devoted followings, and Shipyard is very much like Sunday River in that both have grown from big ideas to big realities. Which is probably why Shipyard and Sunday River make such a great team. What began as a small, yet impassioned, operation in Kennebunkport Harbor almost 20 years ago has become the 15th largest craft brewery in a country with an awful lot of craft breweries. In 2012, they shipped over two million cases across 40 states. Don’t get the wrongidea: Shipyard still brews exclusively hand-crafted, small-batch beers. We spoke with the brewery’s owner, Fred Forsley, about its partnership with Sunday River and the best brews this season.
We know that it’s amazing for us to have Shipyard here, but why is a partnership with Sunday River important for you?
Really, honestly, because I grew up skiing there and I love the mountain. That’s the main reason. It’s just been a very… our strong relationship with people in the past and with Dana Bullen, we’ve had this relationship for so long. But really, the reason why it is so special for me is that I love the spirit of the mountain and when I ski the mountain, I see the way the mountain is today and the way it was, you know, 40 years ago.
That reminds us, what do you think about Camp?
I own one of the units in the [Grand] Summit Hotel and, so I’m really glad to see that [Camp] happen. I think that’ll be a great move.
Why do you think people are so interested in locally crafted beer? Especially in this area–people really love it.
I think people appreciate a quality product, made in a way that they can connect to. The quality of Maine kind of resonates: Handcrafted. And I think that the fact that they can go to the brewery, visit the brewery, see how the beer’s made, and then drink it, makes a closer connection to it. And there’s a comfort that there are quality ingredients being used and that, I think, the integrity of the product, is understood. A lot of the people who become consumers of our product have either visited the brewery or had it at one of our pubs, and I think that’s what builds that support. And I do feel that the water, the quality of the water in Maine, water being the major ingredient, is one of the top reasons why our beer’s so great.
Do a lot of people discover Shipyard at Sunday River?
Definitely. Definitely. Yeah, we’ve grown outside of the state, I think, to a great extent because people have sampled it while they’re skiing. And they’re having a great time skiing, and they taste the beer after skiing all day and then they have that connection back to it when they’re going into their package store in Massachusetts and they pick it up because they’ve tried it at the mountain.
What are we offering this season?
We’re going to have our traditionals. We’re going to have Shipyard Export, Shipyard Light, we’re going to have Monkey Fist IPA, which has become a real fast-growing IPA for us. We’re going to do the Black IPA, our new seasonal, on draft, and probably do our Blue Fin Stout, which we always have.
The Black IPA sounds amazing.
Yeah, it is. It’s really very good.
Which one of those is your favorite?
I’m an [Shipyard] Export drinker, to be honest with you, but I like to mix it up, also. So, this weekend, I was drinking the Black IPA and I love the Stout in the wintertime, but my fallback is always the Export.
It’s the original, right?
*This story appeared in Sunday River This Winter. For more stories, pick up a free copy on stands now.