By Sean Tuohy
There's nothing tastier than enjoying a beer in your own backyard.
In that spirit, I reached out to Shipyard Brewing Company based out of Portland, Maine, which isn't too far from our home base in Boston.
Bruce Forsley, Shipyard’s vice president of sales and marketing, answered some of my questions about his favorite beers and what's next for the brewery.
Sean Tuohy: Give us a little insight into your background.
Bruce Forsley: My background has always been in hospitality. Prior to Shipyard, I owned and operated two restaurants in Waterville and Portland , Maine. Prior to that, I worked as an on-premise wine sales representative for wholesaler located in central Maine. Both occupations were excellent preparation for entering the craft beer business. Craft beer is sold very much like wine with focus on process, ingredients, style, and incorporation into a healthy lifestyle. I was very familiar with the distribution network which was essential in gaining early distribution for our products. I am not actively involved in the brewing process, but steer new product development and portfolio management.
ST: What Shipyard beer would you recommend for a newbie?
BF: Shipyard Summer or Export. Both beers are mildly hopped and moderate an alcohol, but with beautiful balance, consistent quality, and wonderful drinkability.
ST: What was your biggest mistake brewing?
BF: Oh my…there have been several. We tried to make an alcoholic iced tea from a 100% malt base years before Twisted Tea. We failed, but they succeeded by using neutral grain spirits. Shipyard Wheat Ale…with a mermaid on the label…the beer was great, but the package didn’t sell. And there are others…
ST: Pumpkinhead is one of the best beers out there. What is the back story of that beer?
BF: It was initially developed as a fall seasonal at Federal Jack’s brew pub in Kennebunkport, Maine. After the third season we realized that when available it was our most popular draft. Oddly the decision to produce in bottle was not an easy one. There were skeptics including myself. I could not have been more wrong!!!
ST: Could you describe your beer in one sentence?
BF: Balanced and consistent are two essential criteria for consumer confidence.
ST: If you were in Prohibition times, do you think you’d be bootleggers?
BF: Definitely. In the early days of self-distribution we’d deliver beer from the back of a car. Legalized bootlegging!!
ST: What does the future hold for Shipyard?
BF: Our goal is to be recognized as a national brand, stay true to our Maine heritage, and be a responsible corporate neighbor and loyal employer of many Maine families. When we are gone we will leave behind a legacy of creating a great beer to be enjoyed by my kids and generations of Mainers!
ST: If you were stuck on a deserted island with just one case of one of your beers, which one would it be and why?
BF: Summer Ale because I’m assuming I’ll be stuck on a deserted island in the South Pacific and I’ll need the clean thirst-quenching refreshment of that wheat-based ale until I figure out how to make a coconut beer.