D.L. Geary Brewing Company is probably one of the main reasons there are so many great craft breweries in Maine. The brewery opened in 1986, when there were only about a dozen microbreweries in the United States. Both D.L. and the brewery have been pioneering forces in the American brewing world and paved the way (and prepared the taste buds of Mainers) for the score of craft brewers in the state today.
The story of the brewery (popularly known as simply “Geary’s”) starts in the early ’80s. After conversations with Three Dollar Dewey’s founder Alan Eames, David Geary and his wife, Karen, found themselves convinced of the viability of a brewery based in Portland, Maine. Eames introduced Geary to Peter Maxwell Stuart, owner of Scotland’s famous Traquair House Brewery. After Stuart heard of David’s brewing aspirations, he didn’t just invite the Mainer to visit Traquair House—he offered Geary an apprenticeship. After touring Scotland, the United Kingdom’s brewing world, in 1984, Geary came back to the states and founded the D.L. Geary Brewing Company with Karen Geary and brewmaster Alan Pugsley. With funding from 125 friends and neighbors, the business was born.
When it sold its first beer in December 1986, Geary’s was Maine’s first brewery in over a century. Not only that, but its existence brought the number of craft breweries in the United States up to just a baker’s dozen. As one of the first breweries on the market, it fell on Karen, David and Alan to explain their beer and get it into people’s hands. Though it’s unquestionably tough for any brewery starting today, it’s hard to imagine how difficult it was when there was no one available to offer advice and share supplies and no one else’s mistakes to learn from.
In twenty-five years, a lot has changed for D.L. Geary—both the brewery and the man. Karen and David split up in 1989, though they continue to work together at the brewery. While it hasn’t experienced the explosive growth of some of its contemporaries, Geary’s is available in at least a dozen states, and the eighteen-thousand-square-foot brewery brews about eighteen thousand barrels a year. A planned expansion will add another fifteen thousand square feet. A few perks of the expansion will be an increase in brewing days (up to seven days a week), twenty-two-ounce “bomber” bottles and even contract brewing for other Maine breweries.
The Geary Brewing Company is recognized as a pioneer in America’s brewing renaissance and as a model of quality and excellence for the industry.