Tim Gallon, owner and brewer of the Black Bear Microbrew in downtown Orono, officially opened the Taproom for business Wednesday, Sept. 5 at 4 p.m. It’s an enticing place for new and seasoned beer drinkers alike, with year-round and seasonal options available.
The Taproom allows you to refine your taste buds by sipping your beer of choice while reading a menu to get a clear sense of what flavors are coming through in each beer. Whether it’s the nutty flavor of the seasonal Ichabod Ale or the roasted flavor of the Demon Stout, you’ll be tasting the goodness of local craftsmanship.
It’s a simple system: sit down, drink a beer and relax at one of the 22 seats offered in the comforting environment. “No frills, just beer,” is what Gallon says about his small but quaint new space.
College students shouldn’t be afraid of the prices that usually go along with enjoying quality beer.
“The prices are right,” said Matt Strong, a first-time customer and fourth-year mechanical engineering student.
A pint goes for $3.50 for all varieties. But if you’re not quite sure which brew to try first, it’s no problem. Five-ounce samples are available for only $1. Half-gallon growlers are available for $8, plus $2 for the bottle deposit.
The Brewery is a family-run business and delivers its beer through Maine Distributors, which serves restaurants in Penobscot, Aroostook, Hancock, Washington and Piscataquis counties. Currently, Black Bear Microbrews are only found on tap in restaurants and at the Taproom, as the cost of bottling is too high.
Gallon has been hosting a busy crowd in the Taproom since its opening last week. The proximity to the Bear Brew only helps business.
“The overhead [business] is low because the brewery is right here,” Gallon said. Costs of shipping kegs don’t apply to his newest expansion of the brewery.
Gallon has been brewing next to The Roost for nearly five years, but it wasn’t until last week that he opened his doors for the general public to enjoy a pint at the bar. The building was originally an IGA but is now split up into several businesses, including the microbrewery. Just before moving into his own building over 5 years ago, he was brewing his beer independently within the Bear Brew, where Gallon learned the ropes from the original owner of the Bear Brew Pub.
“We need to expand a little,” said Gallon, hoping to bring in another 20-barrel fermenter. Gallon reported that this summer they were “outselling what we can produce.”
For now, Gallon is pleased with the Taproom but hopes to slowly grow his business in the future. “I’d like to get into the mountains this winter,” said Gallon, hoping to collaborate with another distribution company to get Black Bear Microbrew served on tap at ski resorts such as Sunday River and Sugarloaf.
Gallon may try to keep seasonal beers on tap throughout the year to offer customers a wide variety of drafts. For now there are five selections, including Blueberry Ale, which has the perfect hint of blueberry to quench a thirst on the few warm days that still remain, and Ichabod Ale, a beer meant for the foliage season with a lot of hoppy flavor and nutty undertones. Be sure to enjoy this local taste of Orono. The Taproom with be open from 4-8 p.m. every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.