Alan Pugsley is at it again. Pugsley, now chairman of Peter Austin and Partners, one of the premier microbrewery and brewpub design, consulting, and installation companies, has set up close to 70 microbreweries and brewpubs around the world since 1981. His most recent project is the Kennebunkport Brewing Co., a brewpub currently in its first full year of operation, located in Kennebunk, Maine. On his long road to Kennebunk, Pugsley has spent time in Britain, France, Austria, Belgium, South Africa, Canada, China, and Nigeria, installing his trademark Peter Austin and Partners brick-jacketed kettles, hop percolators, open fermentation tanks, and wooden casks. The stainless steel hardware, including the fermentation and conditioning vessels, are manufactured for Pugsley by Non Ferrous Fabrications, so each system specifically suits the needs of the brewpub or microbrewery. Pugsley's knowledge of the industry is varied, beginning with his degree in biochemistry, continuing with his training under Peter Austin at the Ringwood Brewery in England, and evolving today in his perfection of systems and recipes under the auspices of Peter Austin and Partners. Pugsley refers to Austin as "the guru of the microbrewing industry," but some would differ, and reserve that title for Pugsley himself. In the United States, Pugsley has installed Gritty McDuff's, Hartford Brewing Co., Kennebunkport Brewing Company, Oliver's Brewery, and Sea Dog Brewing Company, all brewpubs. Additionally, he has installed microbreweries at D.L. Geary Brewing Company, Wild Goose Brewery, The Mountain Brewers, and Arrowhead Brewing Company. In each instance, Pugsley consulted with the interested group, designed and built the brewery, and then stayed on as brewmaster to create the award-winning brews left in his wake.
In order to come up with the recipes that make each brewery repertoire unique, Pugsley determines the qualities the brewer is looking for, by inquiring as to favorites he or she might have, whether it be a Newcastle Brown Ale or a D.L. Geary Pale Ale. Pugsley then designs a beer that fits that description. Pugsley prides himself on the fact that he does not make pilot brews. "The first batch out of the kettle is tasted, served, bottled, kegged, sold. There is no such thing as a test batch as far as I am concerned. That is wasted beer." There is certainly no beer wasted at the Kennebunkport Brewing Co. In fact, they can't produce, bottle and keg the products fast enough. On a given Saturday at 4:00 AM, it is not uncommon to see Pugsley deep into his first batch of the day, perhaps the Kennebunkport Brown Ale (utilizing its trademark Ringwood yeast, black roasted barley, maize flakes and IPA malt); at the same time, Don Benoit, Marketing Director, is manually bottling the Shipyard Export Ale in their signature 22-ounce bottles. After he bottles, Don manually labels the beer; a time consuming process that simply cannot keep up with demand. At around 2:00 PM, Paul Hendry, head brewer, makes his way into the brewery to start the second batch of the day, perhaps a stout. He will finish up at around midnight. Due to the incredible demand for the six KBC brands (Goat Island Light Ale, Shipyard Export Ale, Taint Town Pale Ale, Brown Moose Ale, Captain Eli's Kennebunk Porter, and Glue Fin Stout) the brewery is now in the process of an expansion and renovation. During the process, which is expected to be complete by November of 1993, they will install a portable bottling line, four new conditioning tanks, two 14-barrel fermenters and two holding tanks. Currently, KBC is operating with two fermenters and six fermenting tanks, and six holding tanks.
This expansion is badly needed. From June to December of 1992, KBC produced just 400 barrels. In 1993, Pugsley expects KBC to produce close to 2,000 barrels. This expansion will max out the Kennebunkport Brewing Co. at its present location at a 14-brews-a-week capacity.
Owner Fred Forsyth is pleased with KBC and the business that Federal Jack's Brewpub is doing. He has no intention of calling it quits simply because of space and barrelage constraints at this location. Forsyth, in fact, cryptically hints at the possibility of setting up another site, perhaps in another New England State, such as Connecticut. That would be quite a move. Currently, about 30% of the beer brewed at KBC is sold at the brewpub, while the remaining 70% is distributed throughout Maine. 90% of the product is sold on draught, with the other 10% sold in 22-ounce bottles and unique five-liter cans, which are actually mini-kegs, complete with individual re-useable taps.
And if things at KBC aren't busy enough, Pugsley and Kennebunkport Brewing Company also offer the Maine Brewing Holiday. This informative and enjoyable short course in brewing is targeting those individuals or groups interested in opening a microbrewery or brewpub, or going to work as a brewmaster for an existing setup. The course allows the individual to work side-by-side with Pugsley and Hendry for one day, one week or two weeks. The course covers all the basics: raw materials, the brewhouse, fermentation, conditioning and filtration, packaging, sanitation and cleaning, quality control, record keeping equipment, taxes, recipe formulation, and any other areas of question that the pupil might have. Students will have the opportunity to dig out mash side by side with Pugsley and Hendry, but, more importantly, to tap into the vast knowledge that Pugsley is willing to share with anyone who presents the same determination and interest in brewing that he possesses. If there is anything that turns Pugsley away from his helpful ways, it is a student who tries to take short cuts. "There is no room for shortcuts. There is a careful, correct way to measure ingredients, to mash, to sparge, brew, to sanitize, to record information, and, if all the rules are followed, you will have no problems. There is no shortcut. In many ways," Pugsley says, "brewmasters are like doctors. Although there is no life threatening situation in a brewery, when you are supposed to be woing, you cannot just walk away. Just as a doctor cannot just walk away from a patient. The brewmaster must be completely dedicated, and certainly can't complain about long, odd hours. If we are doing a double-brew, we are basically working all day and all night. A good brewer has to be willing to do that for a good product and a successful business." Pugsley has certainly met his match in Hendry. Hendry actually trained under Pugsley as part of the pupilage course PA & P offered through D.L. Geary. Pugsley is delighted to have Hendry back working for him at Kennebunkport Brewing Co.
For now, Pugsley has no intentions of leaving Maine or the Kennebunkport Brewing Co. He is content to brew top quality beers, work with top quality brewers, marketing people, and owners, and, as often as possible, sit up behind the bar at Federal Jack's, sip a stout, and gaze out at the sailboats gliding out of Kennebunk Harbor.