Keeping it Local

At Hunker Down’s Sidebar and around the state, Orono Brewing Company puts Maine beer drinkers first.

Getting their beers into appreciative hands outside of Maine is a priority for many of the state’s craft brewery owners. But not Abe Furth, who co-owns Orono Brewing Company with his wife, Heather Furth, as well as Mark Horton and head brewer Asa Marsh-Sachs. “More than 99 percent of our beer is consumed in Maine,” says Abe. “Maine comes first, and Maine is where we’re putting a lot of our effort and attention.” 

All four owners are native Mainers. The Furths met during their freshman year at the University of Maine in Orono. In 2005, when they were both 23, they opened Woodman’s Bar and Grill in their college town with Horton, also an alumnus of the state’s flagship university. When the trio decided to open a brewery, they connected with Marsh-Sachs, an avid home-brewer who was working in a brewing supply store in Bangor. Orono Brewing Company, which will celebrate its fifth birthday on New Year’s Eve, now has a production brewery with a tasting room and full kitchen in Orono, plus a tasting room in downtown Bangor. In addition, this is the second season that Orono Brewing Company beers will take center stage at Sidebar, the lounge at Sugarloaf’s Hunker Down restaurant. “Sugarloaf is an integral part of Maine for us, specifically for me and Heather,” says Abe. “We both worked at the mountain in college, and the first place I ever sold a keg to was the Rack.” While the company’s beers are available at other restaurants and bars on the mountain, at Sidebar they are the exclusive offering on all four tap lines. The space was painted by artist Marty Reynolds, who also created the colorful, pop-art murals at the Orono tasting room.

Marsh-Sachs makes regular use of local ingredients; all of the beers have some grain from Maine Malt House at Buck Farms in Mapleton. A standout is Tubular: a triple dry-hopped IPA that is the brewery’s flagship. Earlier this year, Tubular made Thrillist’s list of the “34 Hottest IPAs in America,” which called out its “bright citrus and grassy notes” as well as “the can’s Saved by the Bell opening-credits design motif.” Tubular is brewed and delivered weekly to meet demand, but building relationships is more important to Abe Furth and his partners than adding more brewing tanks. “We believe that, if we stay connected to Orono and to the larger community, it will ensure the longevity and success of our business,” he says. “Instead of constant growth, we’re looking at how we can operate the best we can at the size we are.”

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