"Once a month, Pat Mullen returns to the former home of the Belfast Bay Brewing Co. and creates a five-gallon batch of beer. He is, after all, a brewer of some repute, winning a silver medal at the World Brewing Championship."

Lobster Ale Home Pagexxxxx


Belfast Bay Brewing Co. is near the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia where just about every brewery makes a red ale, unlike the United States where red ales are not well known. Owner Pat Mullen says "When my wife suggested that a brewery from Maine should make a beer called Lobster Ale, a red ale seemed the perfect brew. Unlike our highly hopped neighbors beers, we decided to brew Lobster Ale to be very "user friendly." We cut down on the hops and added slight amounts of black and dark crystal to the brew. The result is a medium hopped, medium flavored, very drinkable red ale."

"We were at a beer show in Atlantic City and Gary Monterosso, who reviews beer on Sirius Radio said that our Lobster Ale and McGovern 's Oatmeal Stout were the two best beers in the show. He called Lobster Ale the best "Session" beer he had had in years. He explained that a session beer is one that has a very unique. yet not overpowering flavor that goes well with Belfast Bay                                                                                         all types of food, or at any occasion."

"Since Lobster Ale has such a distinctive flavor it is very hard to describe. When I am on the road selling, I am often asked what other beer Lobster Ale might taste like so they will have something to compare it to. I just hand them a cold bottle of Lobster Ale and tell them to "judge it for themselves."

Fine beers brewing at Mullen's Belfast Bay
By lay Davis
VillageSoup/Waldo County Citizen Senior Reporter

BELFAST (Feb15): Once a month, Pat Mullen returns to the former home of the Belfast Bay Brewing Co. and creates a five-gallon batch of beer. He is, after all, a brewer of some repute, winning a silver medal at the World Brewing Championship a decade or so ago.

Gary Monterosso, who reviews beers on Sinus Radio, recently praised Mullen's current beers as two of the best of the last few years. But the homemade suds, while nice to drink, are hardly the measure of his business. His company, now 12 years old, is the fifth- or sixth-largest brewer in Maine, producing thousands of cases of McGovern's Oatmeal Stout and Lobster Ale that are sold everywhere from Hanneford Bros. and Sam's Club to mom-and-pop stores in eight states.

Mullen likes to talk about the beers he produced with Dan McGovern. There were once 11 brews crafted in the Searsport Avenue complex that once hosted a pub and the gleaming steel vats of the brewery.

Most had names that came from the community, like Feather City Light, Mack Point IPA and Hogback Mountain Red Ale. They were consumed by customers at the brew pub and by those who could find them in stores, painstakingly bottled by Mullen himself. Sitting at his dining room table on the city's East Side, a glass of Lobster Ale beside him, Mullen said he got tired of the bottling role. The Shipyard brewery in Portland had been partly purchased by the giant Miller Brewing Co., which had installed a state of-the-art bottling line. It offered to take over that chore.

Eventually, the beer was brewed in Portland as well. Mullen closed the brew pub, then the brewery to the public, and set about selling bottles of the beers he had helped make. He now has distributors in Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New York and Florida. He appears at shows, trains salespeople and in states that allow it, delights in going to new bars and offering free samples to customers. "If I can get people to try the beers, they'll buy them," he said. Though he doesn't keep exact figures, he said last year he sold about 14,000 cases of Belfast Bay brews, The homemade beer he produces on Searsport Avenue qualifies him as a brewer in the state's eyes, which enables him to distribute his beers himself, he said. The labels on the bottles say the home of Belfast Bay Brewing is in Belfast, though the beer is contract brewed in Portland.
But that's just one wrinkle in the sometimes nonsensical word of beer sales. Mullen, whose late father was a Maine State Police trooper, has entertaining stories about the regulatory system and the enforcers of barroom rules that must have Puritan roots. One customer at his brew pub used to remove a ceiling the and stick his glass overhead when he went outside for a smoke, Mullen said. He was cited for drinking outside the licensed area, which was circumscribed by the bars walls and ceiling.

Another night a musician was called away from the bar during a break to help a band mate move a piano. He set his glass down on the corner of the stage and was cited by an inspector for drinking on stage, which is prohibited. But Mullen is even more passionate about the taste of his beers and the reception they get when lovers of good beers discover them. And his long experience with selling beer, from his days at the former Mullen's Store on Seasport Avenue, one of the area's busiest beer stands, to his fateful decision in 1996 to open a micro-brewery. When he began, his distributor sold four micro-brews around Maine. When Mullen changed distributors a few years later, he had 21. "We got lost in the cracks," he said. Determined to see if it was the distributor or the beers that were at fault for paltry sales, Mullen bought two vans and hired salespeople to truck his beers around Maine. "In three months we sold more beer than the distributor had in five years," he said. That trend continues, Sales have grown by at least 110 percent each year and am likely to grow at a 200 percent rate this year, Mullen said.

Selling beer to retail markets 'is all about space," he said. The major companies like Budweiser and Miller want to control as many available "doors" In store coolers as they can. "We just take up their space," he said.
One result is mergers of companies large and small - like Miller's purchase of half of shipyard years ago - to ease the distribution crunch.

Mullen is a hands-on manager of his business, taking calls from customers at his waterfront home and office behind Young's Lobster Pound, and trying to squeeze more six-packs of his beers into already crowded coolers. He's postponed himself well. McGovern's Oatmeal Stout is the only one of is kind in area markets, and Lobster Ale is one of but three so-called "red ales.- -The key is the pubs," Mullen said. "Bartenders will talk up beers they like, and then the customers will buy them." Mullen also says his beers are the same price as Budweiser if the cost of their alcohol content is the measure.

A bottle of Bud may be half the price of a Lobster Ale, but it is also only half as potent, in other words. Mullen has sold his restaurant, his brew pub and most of his brewery, but business is good, he said, a glass of Lobster Ale foaming gently beside him. An eagle ales by and the sun slowly sets. Its hard to Imagine it being any better.

TEL: 207-460-8654

Copyright© 2012 All rights reserved