My grandfather had nine fingers. He started with ten, but one day at work when his wedding band caught on the machinery that he was repairing, that changed. It’s why my dad never wore his wedding ring to work. It happened well before I was born so I only really know the lore, but it takes its place with other family stories of life in the mills. Growing up in Biddeford or Saco in those days, it was all about the textile mills.
By my own childhood, the textile mills were fading until they eventually were gone leaving behind empty buildings, brick and mortar reminders of a lost industry. These beautiful, cavernous mill spaces stayed dormant for so long it seemed they would never emerge. But, lately that’s been changing.
Having ventured down to Biddeford to check out the trails at Clifford Park, we took the opportunity to swing by the recently opened tasting room at Dirigo Brewing Company which is also located in Biddeford. They have a beautiful, renovated space in one of the old mill complexes. The exterior of the building is simple and stripped down with just the Dirigo Brewing Company sign by the main entrance, and a large colorful Dirigo emblem on their bay door.
As you enter, you head downstairs to get to the tasting room. As we arrived we were greeted with a welcoming, expansive space. While we were there on a quite Sunday morning, it looks like it would be a great spot for larger gatherings and events with plenty of room for bands and other entertainment.
It’s beautifully decorated with remnants of the old mill incorporated throughout including exposed beams and piping, brick walls and old textile equipment for decoration. A row of windows overlook the dam area letting in lots of sunlight and providing a great view.
We arrived early, a little after noon time, so the place was not yet in full swing and we were the first patrons. We headed up to the long wooden bar and the bartender, one of the owners, went through the beer options with us. These are not hoppy beers, they lean more towards the malt and we were looking forward to trying them. There are four craft beers currently on tap so we went with a tasting flight which gave us a chance to try them all. The flight included the below beers. [Beer descriptions are from the Dirigo Brewing Company website: “Our Beer.” Dirigo Brewing Company. Web. 26 Oct. 2016.]
Lager “Brewed in the traditional Helles style with Pilsner and Munich Malts, Tettenang and Hallertau Hops. In German, “hell” means bright, which perfectly describes this clear, mild and low-bitterness beer.”
German Pale Ale “Pale Ale made with traditional German ingredients, including Pilsner and Munich malts, and bittered with Tettnang and Hallertau hops. Golden, crisp and refreshing.”
Rotbier “Based on a 13th Century Recipe, the Rotbier (meaning “red beer”) is malt-forward with a hop balance. Featuring Vienna, Munich and Caramel malt, as well as wheat malt and flaked barley, with Cascade hops for bittering. Bitter but balanced.”
Schöps “This is a Polish Chocolate Wheat Beer, made with 74% European Dark Wheat complimented by Pilsner and Dark Chocolate malts, with a low hop character to round it out. Made popular in the 16th century, this is not like any wheat beer you’ve ever had.”
We settled into one of the tables overlooking the water, and sipped our beers while the owner made us a bowl of fresh popcorn to go with our tasting flight. It was relaxing and a great way to unwind from our morning hike.
My husband noted that all the beers were extremely smooth. He was right they were smooth. I even liked the Schöps which is normally a much darker beer than my taste buds enjoy. I’d still stick with the larger or German pale ale in the future as they’re more my speed, but it was nice to try them all.
With the craft beer scene continuing to grow and expand, it’s great to see so many brewers opening up in Biddeford and Saco. They’re starting to get quite the grouping down in that area and Dirigo Brewing Company is a nice addition. But, even more exciting is how wonderful it is to watch as these long abandoned buildings are slowly and steadily being re-purposed into new and exciting businesses. My grandfather would have enjoyed seeing their transformation.
|things to know|
|Brewer||Dirigo Brewing Company|
|Address||28 Pearl St.
Biddeford, ME 04005
|Website||Dirigo Brewing Company|