Master brewer taps family for new beer venture

By Ben Holbrook | Aug 01, 2017
Photo by: Ben Holbrook Elizabeth Johnston and her father, Danny McGovern, stand behind the bar in the tasting room of their new brewery Lake St. George Brewing Co.

Liberty — More than 20 years ago, Danny McGovern launched Lake St. George Brewing Co. where he concocted a variety of beers in the basement of his home.

The year was 1993 and craft beers were relatively unknown, garnering only about 2 percent of the beer market, McGovern estimates. Despite winning numerous awards, including silver medals at the World Beer Festival, the brewery eventually shuttered and McGovern went on to brew beer for Belfast Bay Brewing Co. and then Marshall Wharf Brewing.

More recently, McGovern helped his daughter Mary and son-in-law Matt Weber launch Monhegan Brewing, which is now in its fifth season of operation. That brewery’s success led McGovern to consider turning his attention closer to home, culminating in Lake St. George Brewing Co. being reborn.

The company’s six owners, McGovern, his wife Carol, daughter Elizabeth and son-in-law Jeff Johnston, as well as Mary and Matt, purchased the former Local Roots Market & Café, and set to work remodeling the space for the brewery and tasting room.

To start, the brewery is offering three beers on tap — an English pale ale, blueberry sour and an India Pale Ale — with more brews to come in the future, including an oatmeal stout. The English pale ale, Diver, is a classic, lighter-style beer that has a bit of a bitter finish, Weber said. Kerplunk, the blueberry sour, is a tart beer that Weber said is brewed using locally sourced berries. As for the India Pale Ale, aptly named #96 to represent the fact St. George Brewing Co. is the 96th brewery in the state, has notes of pine hops and citrus flavor before it finishes with the familiar IPA bitterness.

McGovern said he is using a 15-barrel system capable of producing more than 400 gallons of beer.

“We want to share what we love in a place we love,” Elizabeth Johnston said.

McGovern agreed and noted that the craft beer market has surged since he first launched Lake St. George Brewing Co. all those years ago. When he first started, McGovern said it was challenging to find buyers for his product and getting new accounts was extremely difficult.

Now, though, it’s a different story. Just recently, McGovern said he was contacted by The Great Lost Bear in Portland about supplying the restaurant with beer. It’s fitting that The Great Lost Bear is the first account for the old-but-new-again brewery. When McGovern first started in ‘93, The Great Lost Bear also was his first account.

To start, the brewery is offering growlers for sale as well as retail kegs. In the future, Weber said bottles and cans will also be available to purchase. In addition to the oatmeal stout, which is currently in the making, McGovern and Johnston said they plan to offer a double IPA, a Helles lager and a brown ale. Once they are firmly established, the brewery should feature six or seven beers at a time.

“I’m really proud to start this up,” McGovern said. “The kids (Elizabeth and Mary) grew up with this and they have an interest in it.”

Food is limited to a few snack items but in the future, Johnston said the brewery would like to partner with food trucks or a caterer to offer a larger menu.

Lake St. George Brewing Co. is located at 4 Marshall Shore Road. The business is open Monday through Wednesday from 3 to 8 p.m., and Thursday through Sunday from noon to 8 p.m. Those hours will remain in effect for the summer before being adjusted in the fall. Johnston said the brewery will also tweak its hours based on customer feedback.

The brewery features new equipment that is capable of brewing hundreds of gallons of beer a week. (Photo by: Ben Holbrook)
Patrons can enjoy a beer in the brewery's tasting room, with additional seating available in the loft and outside. (Photo by: Ben Holbrook)
In the future, the brewery will offer cans and bottles for sale. (Photo by: Ben Holbrook)
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