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Politics and craft beer mingle at Moderation Brewing Company

November 16, 2018

Ezra Sunshine
TAPPING INTO COMMUNITY: A quick walk down Maine Street can lead you to an assortment of creative IPAs. This local spot wants to be the location of your next date, or even where you finish your history reading.

What do beer and politics have in common? A lot, according to Mattie Daughtry, co-founder of Moderation Brewing Company on Maine Street, which opened last March.

And Daughtry would know. Aside from running Moderation with business partner Philip Welsh, Daughtry works as a Democratic member of the Maine State House of Representatives. She was re-elected for the fourth time last week. Legislators don’t make enough to live off the job alone, so most representatives have at least one other job—for Daughtry, that’s brewing.

“I love how much beer and politics intertwine in a really wonderful way,” said Daughtry. “I think beer enables people to be in a setting where they’re more willing to have a dialogue even if they don’t agree.”

Daughtry’s involvement in politics permeates every aspect of the small brewery, from its rye IPA—named “People Power Beer”—to the history behind its name, which harkens back to Maine’s period of prohibition.

“Moderation draws on that historical background of people in Maine who were pushing back against temperance and pushing for moderation instead,” said Daughtry.

Maine was the first state to pass prohibition, a law written by Bowdoin’s own “Father of Prohibition,”  John Hubbard. Because of this early ban, Maine bootleggers became experts in sneaking alcohol across state lines. At the time, Moderation’s building was an American Express office and allegedly saw countless barrels of moonshine before they were smuggled into Maine’s ports. When Daughtry and Welsh first bought the building, they found parts of a smuggling barrel in the space.

“The tag-line is, instead of drinking in moderation, drink at Moderation,” Daughtry explained.

Today, the brewery functions as a meeting place in the heart of downtown Brunswick. Daughtry and Welsh are Brunswick natives—they met at the age of 14 in a middle-school band—and both are committed to fostering a sense of community in their hometown.

“We wanted to be within walking distance of town, to have the feel of a British pub where you can read a book or go on a first date,” said Daughtry. “More of a gathering spot, which is a little bit different than a traditional brewing style.”

The bar has catered to a wide range of clientele, including local foodies looking for dinner party pairings, students seeking a relaxed environment to finish homework and even tourists unloading from Portland beer buses.

“We don’t have a target beer niche,” said Daughtry. “A father, a grandfather and a son who had just turned 21 came into Moderation; there were three generations sitting at the bar. That’s kind of what I like—so far, we’ve made it a welcoming community for everyone.”

Whether a local, a student or a tourist, all frequenters of Moderation come together to drink good beer, of which there is no shortage at the local joint. Welsh and Daughtry have combined ingredients to create flavors such as “Oh the Places You’ll Mango,” a light and fruity wheat beer, and “Bro Juice,” a powerful, bitter (highly-alcoholic) double-IPA.

Welsh began developing recipes for these beers more than 10 years ago. Daughtry joined him several years later.

“I’m pretty much entirely self-taught,” said Welsh. “I started on the stove, and after making a mess of my kitchen enough times, I graduated to a small-scale version of what we have here, all electric and pumped and plugged, just to repeat my recipes enough to start prototyping for the beers we have now.”

While the bar has three permanent, signature beers—an IPA, a stout and an ale—they rotate their other three taps depending on availability of ingredients.

“As we have local ingredients ready for harvest, we’ll try to harvest and hands-on pick them or source them to brew with,” Welsh said.

As a result, 80 to 90 percent of the brewery’s ingredients are locally grown.

“As much as we can source from here in Maine, which does have a pretty huge agricultural community, the better,” he added.

Moderation Brewing Company is one of three microbreweries that have opened in Brunswick over the past two years. Flight Deck and Black Pug are both a short drive down Bath Road.

“The more breweries you have in an area, it actually makes a draw.” said Daughtry. “Once you have three in an area, it’s considered a destination.”

This has created a sense of camaraderie, rather than competition, between the breweries. Moderation has borrowed several brewing instruments from Flight Deck, a slightly larger brewery with a more developed operation.

“It’s really fun to see what everyone else is doing. It’s all beer, so it’s all fun in the end,” said Welsh.

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