As Mike Brewer flipped through the Gloucester newspaper nearly three years ago, a county-wide proposal caught his attention. Plans to revitalize Gloucester’s Main Street were gaining traction, and at the center of the pitch was the call for a local brewery. “I cut out the article, showed it to my wife, and the first thing she said was, ‘You don’t know how to brew beer,’” laughs Brewer. It was then that Brewer sought counsel in longtime friend and seasoned homebrewer, Myron Ware. By Dec. 1, 2018, the duo established Gloucester’s first and only brewery.
Gloucester Brewing Company, explains Brewer, is a representation of the county’s unique culture. Its design is heavily influenced by local artisans and Main Street history. Now filled with a spattering of tap handles and brewing equipment, the brick building once stood as a humble repair and tire shop during the 1930s. “We found receipts from as far back as 1938 when we were cleaning out the attic,” says Ware.
It was also from the attic that Brewer and Ware pulled wood to create their paneled walls and reclaimed bar, whose detailed ironwork was designed by the Village Blacksmith. The brewery’s flight holders, dubbed Floats after the deadrise watercraft, were also constructed by local talent.
Harnessing true Gloucester flavor, however, are the beers. Brewer and Ware based nearly their entire project on a brown ale recipe Ware mastered in his garage in fall 2016. The pioneer brew was the culmination of both Ware’s 20-plus years in homebrewing and his desire to try his hand at scalable craft brews. From there, the team honed in on their brewing vision. “We bought a small half-barrel system and started brewing in my garage seriously trying to perfect recipes,” says Brewer.
While simultaneously tweaking formulas and maintaining their day jobs at NASA, Brewer and Ware began drafting their proposal for the microbrewery. Once approved, they began negotiations on the historic building owned by Southern States, and by May 2017, they were granted the lease.
Over a year of construction and planning later, Gloucester Brewing Company opened its doors on one of the busiest intersections in the county. “We’re the only brewery on Main Street,” says Ware. “There was a study done and [it found that] over 20,000 cars pass the stoplight outside our door every day.”
The taproom has been no stranger to traffic either as it has quickly become a popular watering hole for locals. Across from the exposed brewing equipment is an array of wittingly named beers. The original brown ale, Low Ground, makes an appearance along with Hills Bay IPA, Rosewell red ale, Ordinary pilsner, DeadRYEz rye ale and a lawn mowing beer otherwise known as the John Beere cream ale. The Gloucester Brewing Company team has also experimented with a saison, black ale and fruity spinoffs on a base wheat recipe like cranberry, blackberry and apricot. Better Than Roses chocolate cherry stout will also be released exclusively for Valentine’s Day.
In addition to new beers, Gloucester Brewing Company is looking to bring new bites to the taproom. “We want to collaborate with the restaurants [on Main Street]. There are five or six restaurants within walking distance from here, so we’re trying to figure out how to get their food in the brewery,” says Brewer.
In the meantime, taproom visitors are making do with homemade dishes. Ware explains that guests have brought in everything from communal Crockpots to chowder and chili for birthday parties.
Both Brewer and Ware note that their success would be naught without backing from the Gloucester community. “Support from the county, Chamber of Commerce, Main Street Association, Main Street Preservation Trust and the general community has been great,” says Brewer. The team now sets its sights on the many months of production before tourist season this summer.
Gloucester Brewing Company is located at 6778 Main Street, Gloucester and is open Monday, Thursday and Friday from 4 to 9 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.