Russell Voss and Chris Ventimiglia welcomed my wife, Julie, Deb Smith and me warmly on our recent visit to their new establishment NU Brewery at 437 Lewiston Road this past Wednesday. It was a sunny day and their building and grounds looked beautiful in the fall sunshine. It’s hard to miss their distinctive two tone dark blue, light blue building if you have occasion to be driving down Route 100 between the blinker and Gloucester Hill Road.
We stood for a while on the brewery’s large outside patio which sits adjacent to the “Yoked” Food truck and its own smaller patio, before going inside to resume our conversation in the large tasting room. We found out that Russell and Chris both were chefs and have known each other for twenty years.
Chris began brewing as a hobby several years ago using a technique he called “reverse engineering” that he learned and used when he was a chef. He would to take a beer or flavor he liked and then figure out how to create that taste using his own mix of ingredients and style of brewing. He achieved repeated success, placing in the top first or second place, with creations at a number of national home brewing competitions which started Russell and Chris’ journey to open their own brewing operation.
They went before the planning board in 2017 to present their proposal to convert a building that had housed the Oliver Stores, a large equipment business, into a brewery. They knew that much needed to be done to make this happen, but having attended that meeting, I can attest to their shared passion and professionalism even before their dream had become a reality.
They ran into a complicated and drawn out problem in their dealings with CMP in their request to install three phase power in their building. They finally resolved this issue through a work-around solution and opened their doors in June of this year. They offer sixteen taps in their tasting room and food is available from an egg- based menu at the food truck just outside the tasting room.
Our tour continued inside the production facility with its gleaming stainless-steel tanks and their own canning line as well as a reverse osmosis water purification system that allows them to have a constant supply of pure water for brewing their various beers. Their flagship flavor is a light American lager, inspired by the beers brewed by huge domestic breweries but with a craft beer twist. They also produce a sour beer that is a key lime gose. This was spurred on by the current trend toward sour brews. To create this flavor, Chris used his reverse engineering skills to tease out what might go into a unique sour beer. Pleased with his small batch, the challenge was then to scale the recipe up to large scale production. This too he was successful in doing and now customers can sample this interesting brew in their tasting room.
While Chris is totally engaged in the brewing side of the operation, none of this could happen without Russell’s “I can make anything” attitude. As Russell was explaining all that he and Chris had personally designed, installed and built in their facility, it became crystal clear the team effort and passion that went into making this customized and unique brewing operation.
They not only make great beer; they are committed to reducing their environmental footprint as much as possible. They use compost-able products in their tasting room; they recycle wherever possible and are exploring solar power to supply all of their electricity needs. When asked what their goal was in five years, without hesitation Russell replied, “the world!” When pressed, Russell elaborated saying that they hope for national distribution with a global market being the ultimate goal. They currently do their own distribution in their NU Brewery box truck, making their rounds in Maine on a regular basis.
To summarize, I found being with these two talented men to be energizing and inspiring. While they do not live in New Gloucester, they love working here and have found the town’s people to be “Amazing!”. On the way out they showed us their event room where private parties and wedding receptions have already taken place. We all left, and resolved to come back soon to sit and sip and enjoy the fruits of Russell and Chris’s labors.
NU Brewery Hours of Operation
“Yoked” Food Truck Hours of Operation
Saturday 12-9 PM