A Peek Behind the Curtain with Lone Pine Brewing Company
Maine Brew & Bev sat down with Lone Pine Co-founders Tom Madden and John Paul for a Q & A update on where they are six months after their move into Sebago Brewing Company’s former facility in Gorham, Maine.
With the new expansion plans, Lone Pine Brewing Co. will potentially double their current packaging capacity by streamlining infrastructure, adding fermentation volume and renovating layout to accommodate the increased volume. Plans also include adding three to four more production and sales positions by next summer.
MB&B: Now that you have settled into your new brewery, what’s new?
Tom Madden: We will be opening a new tasting room in Gorham this fall. Our vision is to provide an all-encompassing experience with interactive, tactile tours, where visitors can see, taste and smell the process of brewing our beers. It is being built for visitors to enjoy and stay for awhile—not necessarily just for people to come in for a taste, pick up cans and leave.
The current layout allows for about a 50-person capacity and there will a designated retail area for merchandise sales as well. We plan to open starting this November, from Thursday to Sunday. Food trucks will be on site during those days and the new location will be an added stop on the Brew Bus tours.”
MB&B: How are you handling the growth?
Tom Madden: Growth is exciting, but it’s not without its challenges, and this has been a learning experience. From March to now we have increased from seven employees to 21. Tripling the staff in six months poses the challenge of organizing operations around on boarding new staff and defining roles quickly and effectively. The benefit and challenge to having new staff with various levels of brewing backgrounds is how to matriculate their ideas and utilize their unique skill sets they bring.” The recently added staff include brewing talent from the likes of Brooklyn Brewing Co, Trillium, Stone Face, Shipyard, Sebago and Dorchester Brewing.
John Paul: A whole new scale of growth requires a business plan that constantly changes with demand. We operate on a set distribution plan in place, then the next week, we enter into a new market and that plan is out the window, so we need to make a new one.
MB&B: How do you keep your quality standards with increased production volume?
Tom Madden: Consistency is a top priority and in order to not sacrifice quantity for quality, we invested in a number of tools we to use in our own lab, such as dissolved oxygen meters to help with the quality control.
MB&B: Which new and old beer styles are coming for fall and winter?
Tom Madden: Besides our core products: Portland Pale, Brightside and Tessalation, we will re-introduce Samara Brown and move our Chaga Stout into cans for winter and Maple Sunday will back in March. Plus T-Shirt Cannon and Onsie will be in the rotation. We are doing a wet-hopped Grisette made with local malts and feature hops from the hopyard, right here in Gorham. And, of course, we will have fun stuff for one-off styles to keep the locals entertained.
MB&B: What are your expansion plans for the next 6 to 12 months?
john Paul: Currently we are pacing at 7,800 barrels and hope to continue to fan out distribution to other states. However, the demand right here in Maine is absorbing most of our beer production and making it difficult to reach further destinations. We want to find the saturation point for our core brewing products, so they are fully accessible in Maine first.
MB&B: What has been the public response?
Tom Madden: The response from the public has been overwhelming. It’s great to see the positive feedback from interacting with people in our tasting room and seeing the enthusiasm for the work we are doing. We appreciate the supportive response from other breweries, which have helped us grow to where we are. We’re grateful to be a part of the collaborative community where it feels more like peers than competitors. It’s rewarding to be in a position now to give back to the community and donate to charities such as Ales for Tails.
John Paul: It still feels surreal to walk into bars and hear people order Lone Pine and hear people talking about the beers. We appreciate the people who started with us since the beginning and it is certainly an effort that is bigger than the two of us.
The recent expansion has allowed Lone Pine to keep their creativity and continue their exploration into new styles of craft beer. Even with a background in finance, Tom Madden could not have dreamed that their business plan would evolve and take off so fast. They wake up every day and do something that they enjoy and which brings joy to others in forms of delicious craft beer.