Orono Brewing Company, the Orono-based craft brewery, announced Monday morning that, pending town approval, it would purchase and then expand into a 10,000 square foot industrial building on the banks of the Penobscot River.
The building, located at 61 Margin St., was formerly the home of a rock crushing facility owned by Lane Construction, and overlooks Ayers Island in the river. OBC owners Abe Furth, Heather Furth, Asa Marsh-Sachs and Mark Horton plan to move the majority of its brewing operations to the facility, allowing them to initially double their production to meet overwhelming demand.
“We are dedicated to slow and incremental growth,” said Abe Furth. “A lot of leaders in the Maine brewing scene have given us a lot of really good advice, and the number one thing they say is to find a building that you can grow into, and to grow incrementally so you can maintain quality.”
Since opening in December 2014, head brewer Marsh-Sachs has quickly become one of the most acclaimed brewers in Maine. Some of their best-known beers include their flagship brew, Ozone IPA, as well as the Golden Grove Witbier, White Nitro Cream Ale and Lightning Tree IPA. Ozone and Lightning Tree are regularly available in cans — if you can find them, that is. According to Abe Furth, demand has rapidly exceeded supply — to the point where the brewery’s tap rooms in Orono and Bangor sometimes run out of their own beer.
“It’ll be really nice to not have to say no to people. It’ll be really nice to not run out of beer,” he said. “We all know what Asa brings to the table, and the only way we can grow is doing it in a way that he feels comfortable with, and not pushing him towards massive expansion.”
In addition to moving brewing operations to 61 Margin St., the OBC owners plan to use the space not occupied to offer studio and co-working space for artists and creative people. The entire building will be known as the Hub Complex.
“Our vision is to have this be reclaimed space that can give folks in the area a chance to have a studio space in a place that’s got a lot of energy in it,” said Abe Furth. “I think we’ve seen a lot of success in Bangor in terms of the intersection of art and commerce and downtown living, and we’d like to see something similar happen in Orono.”
The OBC owners intend to keep both their downtown Orono and downtown Bangor tap rooms open and will continue to brew small-batch specialty beers at those locations, while also offering a tasting room in the new facility.
OBC has signed a purchase agreement for the building, and will go before the Orono planning board in June to get approval for their intended use of the space. If all goes as planned, renovation of the building will begin in July. Abe Furth said he hopes to have brewing operations moved in the first half of 2018, with the studio space to follow.