Wes Ellington has nothing against other craft brewers, but his mission in life these days is to create beers that are different than theirs.
“I like what other people are doing a lot,” said Ellington, the proprietor of one of the newest breweries in Maine, Square Tail Brewing Co. in Amherst. “I just don’t want to do what they’re doing, necessarily.”
It’s a philosophy that shows not only in his beers but in other aspects, too, including the name of the company. Born of a family love for fishing, the brewery’s name uses a less-common term for a popular type of fish — brook trout — to communicate that passion for angling.
“It’s a different way of saying something common,” Ellington explained, noting that — like brook trout — breweries are not an uncommon find in Maine these days. “Hopefully we’re different in our own way.”
Ellington got started with home brewing, and thought about starting his own brewery for several years. Last year that goal became a reality — even though he has a day job in a totally different field.
Ellington works for Spectra Energy, the majority owner of the Maritimes & Northeast natural gas pipeline that passes through Maine. He says Square Tail Brewing is his “full-time, part-time job.”
The brewery set up shop in an old furniture building on Mill Lane, just off of the Airline road in Amherst, that stood unused for years before Ellington moved in. He and his family gave the building “a complete overhaul,” and used part of the building — about 1,200 square feet — for the operation.
A little over half of that space is used for the brewery, while the remaining area is set up as a tasting room. That space features benches, tables and seats — all of which was built by local craftsmen. The setup allows patrons to see what’s going on in the microbrewery while they enjoy a beer in the tasting room.
Like the company’s name, its beers also take their names from time spent fishing or just being out on the water. Examples include Caddis Fly wheat ale, Lazy Paddle milk stout and Mooned Loon pale ale.
Square Tail Brewing has six beers on tap, with several more “in the making” as they work their way through the brew system Ellington has set up. He said his goal is to have six to eight on tap, and then cycle in several special or seasonal brews.
Ellington said his brewing process typically starts with a style (such as pale ale) that he then adapts into his own unique recipe. Using the Mooned Loon pale ale as an example, he said it started out as a British-style pale ale but that the base recipe and hops schedule were changed throughout the brewing process.
The end result, he said, is “not an IPA [India Pale Ale]. It’s not a British pale ale. But it’s got the influence of both.”
Ellington said his stepfather is from the United Kingdom, and that he has tried to emulate a pub mentality at Square Tail.
“Our goal is not to own a bar,” said Ellington, noting that on its latest night the tasting room at Square Tail Brewing closes at 9 p.m. “This is more of a center for the community, rather than just a place to party.”
If a customer has an interest in fishing, too, that certainly doesn’t hurt. Noting that his family’s love of fishing, he said they made the decision early on that any executive-level meetings for Square Tail Brewing would take place in a canoe.
“There’s no better way to keep stress down than casting a fly rod,” Ellington said.
Where: 22 Mill Lane in AmherstHours: Square Tail Brewing has regular tasting hours on Fridays (4-9 p.m.), Saturdays (2-9 p.m.) and Sundays (2-6 p.m.). For dates of special events, check the brewery’s website.Contact: Call 584-BEER (2337), email [email protected], visit www.squaretailbrewing.com or find the brewery on Facebook (Square Tail Brewing Co.).