Brewing Exceptional Beers Behind the Scenes
Allagash Brewing Co.
The list of the 50 largest American brewing companies bottoms out with Allagash Brewing Co. of Portland, Maine. That doesn’t make it small but, rather, the smallest of the biggest. It’s a lofty perch for Jason Perkins. He grew up two tiny states over in Vermont but is now a Mainer through and through, beginning with taking up homebrewing there in college. A year in Missoula, Montana, led to working at a local brew-on-premise, which sure beat waiting tables. That got his foot in the door at Gritty McDuff’s—Maine’s first brewpub—once he and his girlfriend (now wife) moved back. From there, scrappy Perkins knocked on what few brewery doors existed in Maine at the time, which is how Allagash founder Rob Tod wound up hiring him at the start of 1999.
Allagash just celebrated its 20th anniversary, and Perkins has gone from the third-ever employee to the top of the brew ladder. “I’m not necessarily making the beer as far as turning valves,” says Perkins, but between selecting hops, communicating with the malt suppliers and staying in touch with the entire crew, he still feels in touch and it’s still fun. It even reminds him of growing up on that small “gentleman’s farm” back in Vermont, since beer is, after all, an agricultural product.
Nor are Perkins’ hands ever idle. In the summer he enjoys kayaking with his wife and young daughters, while winter is for white-knuckling ski poles. Asked how his girls feel about his job, he says, “They’re always asking what kind of beer we made today. They love to smell the beer. They’re starting to pick out interesting flavors.”