YORK BEACH, Maine — The old York Beach Post Office is getting a major facelift, enabling a father-and-son team of brewers to expand their brewing capacity and offer a new beer drinking experience at the beach. But not until the end of the government shutdown.
Dave Rowland Sr. and son David Rowland Jr. opened SoMe Brewing Company five years ago on Route 1 and both are eagerly awaiting the opening of their second brewery, York Beach Brewing Company on Route 1A. The brewery is ready to open, but Rowland Sr. said the federal government shutdown has delayed issuance of the Brewers Notice from the federal Tax and Trade Bureau.
The Rowlands have been asked for months when their new location will open, but until the Brewer’s Notice is issued, it cannot receive its state business license to open.
“When we went to open SoMe in 2013 there was a government shutdown and once again the same thing. What are the chances of this happening twice to us?” Rowland Sr. said. “We could have been open a month ago. It’s such a shame that all our paperwork is being held up with the shutdown. It’s stressful because we have a lot of debt and can’t open until these two documents are in hand.”
SoMe is pronounced like "some," even though the trademark lines under the o and e play a word game with Southern Maine. The five-year-old brewery has 83 barrels of fermentation capability and with the addition of York Beach Beer Company, another 40 barrels will be online to help the Rowlands keep up with demand and provide space for future growth, Rowland Sr. said.
Property owner Jim Fitzgerald had been preparing the old York Beach Post Office for a new tenant and has helped the Rowlands since they started renovations in March 2018 for a 100-seat tasting room, 70 inside and 30 outside.
“We’re going to start with 48 seats inside the 10-tap tasting room. There’s plenty of local food within walking distance, so we are going to stick with what we know best: beer,” said Rowland Jr. “So many people are excited to have another year-round option.”
SoMe’s most popular beers, Apostrophe IPA and Whoopie Pie Stout, will likely be on tap at York Beach Beer Company as well, but Rowland Jr. said the focus will be on lower alcohol by volume selections, such as pilsners, Mexican-style lagers, Gose, Berliner Vice and some sessionable IPAs.
“With lower ABV, we will brew bigger tasting, fun experimental beers,” he said. “York Beach Brewery Company allows us to introduce a new brand of beer under our SoMe banner to differentiate what we want to introduce. Beyond our SoMe favorites, we might do a stout or double IPA someday, but these brands will be more beach oriented.”
“At SoMe brewing, our motto has always been ‘something for everyone,’" Rowland Jr. added. "We are in a tourist town and not everyone likes the beers we like, so we have fun offering a wide variety."
A landscape designer by trade, Rowland Sr. started brewing beer when the home brew trend started in the early 90s. When his son was young he would help brew. And Rowland Jr. said his interest in craft brewing peaked during his college years.
“We luckily had a lot of good small microbreweries and craft breweries in the Philly area, so we had access to it all when it was unfolding,” Rowland Jr. said. "When I moved home from college I pulled out dad’s home brew kit, started brewing, and got obsessed and brewed all the time and talked to any brewer that would answer questions and read and read, and brewed voraciously,."
When his history teaching job in New Jersey was eliminated due to budget cuts, Rowland Jr. accepted an offer to work construction with his dad, who was then retired and living and working in Lake Placid, New York, and would commute home on the weekends.
“So, during the week we’d build houses and garages and all sorts of projects and then we’d brew. We built an efficient system, so we’d brew all the time. We’d always talked about opening a brewery someday. I brewed 10 years before we got into it, then we moved here with that goal in mind,” said Rowland Jr., whose wife, sister and mother are active in the brewery as well.
Rowland Sr. said he thought the brewery would be in the Adirondacks, but his son encouraged him to visit the York area, where his wife’s family vacationed.
“I told him 'Dad, you got to check out Maine. We love it there.’ And since York didn’t have a brewery it made sense,” Rowland Jr. said.
Rowland Sr. said today is like the old, pre-prohibition days, when local breweries were the norm. After prohibition, he said, the big breweries took over the market and it has taken a long, long time for the current, hyper-local, craft beer explosion to build.
“In the '90s, some smaller, craft micro-breweries came back and the market has shifted and people's tastes have shifted as a result," he said. "Now smaller, local neighborhood breweries have opened and peaked people's interest and you can have multiple breweries in a town and they are all friends and occasionally brew together. And since folks are hyper-sensitive to drink the beer brewed close to them, we are similar to multiple other industries benefiting from the whole local movement.”