Just a few days before opening, the interior of Bath Brewing Company was a frantic whirlwind of activity.

Insulation needed to be finished up. Painters were putting the last few touches on nooks and crannies. Gas lines in the kitchen were routed and made safe. The building number needed to be nailed above the doorway. Local and state permits had the i’s dotted and the t’s crossed.

Tables and seating arrangements upstairs will allow for a formal dining experience. Staff photo by Chris Chase

Despite the work left to be done, the transformation was already dramatic. A first floor that once creaked as you walked on it is now level and polished. The second floor, described by Terry Geaghan as a “rabbit warren of offices,” is transformed. Just a few months ago the walls had scorch marks from a past fire; now it’s an open inviting space.

The brainchild of Geaghan, Mike Therriault, and developer Sean Ireland, Bath Brewing Company is poised to become Sagadahoc County’s first, and only, locally-based, locally-founded brewpub.
“We perceived a niche, and we thought it would be good for the community to have,” said Geaghan.

The three owners of Bath Brewing Company played basketball together at the Y, and talked about how strange it was that Bath didn’t have a brewery yet. A growing trend statewide, breweries are in every county but Piscataquis. While Sagadahoc County has Sea Dog Brewing in Topsham, it’s an offshoot of the Camden original.

The trio discussed the idea of their own spot, but only started the ball rolling last year.

Finally, they’re opening the doors to the public for the first time 11 a.m. tomorrow.

“To actually see it coming to fruition, it’s very rewarding,” said Geaghan.

It wasn’t all smooth sailing, of course. Anyone who has restored a historic building can probably tell you tales of things they encountered behind the scenes. A historic wind-storm in late October and record-breaking cold in December certainly didn’t help.

But those things haven’t deterred General Manager Mollie Jellison or Chef Tony Mandeville one bit. Much of the interior design can be credited to Jellison’s vision of a spot that locals or tourists alike can come and enjoy anything from a formal sit down meal to a quick lunch.

The “beer-rail” area upstairs is a great example of that vision, and is also one of her favorite spots. Stools are arrayed along a bar fronted by soaring windows that bring in lots of natural light. “It’s a great place to sit and have a cup of chowder and a pint of beer and watch the snow fly,” she said.

Born and raised in Bath, Jellison got involved with the restaurant industry at 14 in Boothbay Harbor. Up until recently, when she moved to Bath to be on board Bath Brewing Company, she worked at the highly-acclaimed Del Porto in Covington, Louisiana. There, she helped win the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence multiple years in a row at a restaurant consistently named one of the best in the New Orleans area.

That background will be employed to expand the beverage options at Bath Brewing Company. Anyone who isn’t a fan of beer need not worry, an array of beverage options are already in the works. “There will be some focus on the wine here, it won’t be just beer,” she said.

Her experience with designing the interior of restaurants shows in little touches. Everything from the tables, to the legs of the stools, has similar design elements. Small Easter-eggs, like the Bath Brewing Company logo cut into supports for shelves, are hidden in places most will never even look.

A soaring ceiling complete with a massive industrial-inspired chandelier greets anyone who comes in, connecting the first floor all the way to the roof of the second floor. The building’s original tin ceiling, salvaged from various spots in the building, is restored and contributes to the building’s historic yet modern feel.

Mandeville too, has plenty of restaurant experience. He helped start a successful gastro-pub in New Jersey, which he ran for 10 years, and brings that knowledge to Bath.

Food, he said, will be familiar pub favorites with some twists. “It’s nothing that’s too fancy, but it’s definitely a step up from your typical bar food.”

At the low-end will be standbys like burgers (which may include a bacon onion jam) and fish and chips, with lunch and dinner specials occasionally venturing into higher-end territory.

With the summer farmers market right out the back door, Madeville said focusing on local supply will be part of his vision for the restaurant. “A big part of our goal here is keeping things as local as possible.”

Of course, the biggest focus and likely draw of Bath Brewing Company is the word in the middle of its name: Brewing. But on-premise brewing of their own beers will take awhile to start. Securing brewing equipment – which has to be custom made in most cases – in an era of ever-increasing demand takes time.

However, arrangements are being made to have a brewer create unique beers off-premises. Jellison said it’s too early to confirm anything, but the eight taps downstairs and four upstairs should be flowing with local beer sooner rather than later. In the meantime, they’ll still have plenty of craft beer.

A big goal, said Geaghan, is honoring the community where Bath Brewing Company resides. An expert marine historian, he’s been a long-time board member at Maine Maritime Museum and knows the city’s maritime history well. The anchor on the company’s logo is no mistake, and the nautical history of Bath will be on display.

“We want to honor the community, we want to honor the building.”

Everyone involved with the project has also agreed that the community has been incredibly supportive of their efforts so far.

Bath Brewing will open at 11 a.m. Thursday. For more information, visit bathbrewing.com or find Bath Brewing Company on Facebook.