Name: Michael Rankin

Age: 28

Title: Co-founder

Company: Definitive Brewing Co., Portland

About: The newest brewery to join the craft beer hub on Industrial Way.


What’s your biggest challenge right now?

Our biggest challenge is that we started off with a big (brewing) system and we’re located in one of the most high-traffic craft beer locations in the country. It’s kind of, almost a double-edged sword to be located in this area. We have to make a phenomenal product right out of the gate. Our biggest challenge was making sure our beer was going to impress people when they came through the door.

Dylan (Webber), our director of brewing operations and co-founder, has a great level of expertise in the beers he’s made; they are very well-received. Having him as part of a team adds value to us as a brand and who we are as we continue to grow.

We have four beers, and all are available in cans at the brewery and they will be available at select retailers over the next few weeks.

We’re located at 35 Industrial Way in Portland. On Saturday (May 19) when we opened, we had roughly 800 people come through the door and we had a line outside from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. They came from Canada, Florida, California — many of them came for the sole purpose of a beer vacation, and we were on the top of their list.

I ended up working behind the bar for a good portion of the day. It was a really neat experience to hear from so many people from so many places.

What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?

No matter what you’re doing, you give it your all, give it your best possible effort. I am fortunate to have parents (Wayde and Donna Rankin, of Manchester) and grandparents who instilled those values in me. It didn’t matter if I was playing baseball or starting a new brewery in Portland. We put together a strong team of people who give it their all, our opening weekend was successful and as long as we continue to give it our all, we’ll continue to be successful.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your team?

I knew when I started this venture — putting the investment group together and found who would be our brewer — I knew it would be a tall task to start this business. I knew I would not know all the answers to get from the starting line to the opening day. But I made sure we put together a strong group that includes a retired nursing home administrator, engineers, sales people, an attorney. Coupling their experience with the head brewer has helped him solve problems on an ongoing basis. We have hired our tasting manager from one of the local restaurants and we have put together a group of people that when those sorts of problems come up, they can work as a team to arrive at a solution that works best for the company. It’s important for me to highlight that there’s no chance I could have done this alone. I put the investment group together and thought it would be exciting to put together a group to do this.

What’s your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is the fear of any small business owner and in any new business — the risk of the venture itself and the time and effort it takes to ensure it will be successful. I put together the investment group, and with the exception of the brewer, it’s my friends and family. All of our investors live on or grew up on Cobbossee Lake. That’s great; it allows for flexibility and creativity. It’s a group of people that gets along well.

The fear is that if it doesn’t work, it’s all friends and family.

When I am dealing with a vendor, purchasing equipment or setting up the tasting room, I had to know the information, so I could provide the investors with complete answers. While they are trusting me and the other three co-founders, I care very much about making sure they are comfortable.

What makes now the time to do this?

Myself and a couple of the other investors have talked for a couple of year about opening a brewery. We were able to pair a great location with a phenomenal brewer.

Conceptually, we more or less had our business plan in place months before the business was created. When one of the investors found out that one of his friends, a brewer, was interested in starting his own business, coupled with this location right across from Allagash (Brewing Company) — when they coincided, we decided to take advantage of this location.

You see most breweries start in a small space with a small brewing system. From day one, you don’t have enough capacity.

This space is 8,000 square feet. That allows us plenty of room for storage and production. We have a 2,500-square-foot tasting room and outdoor patio space.

Those are the two things that made now the right time.

We’ve been thinking about this since 2016. It’s an industry I have been passionate about for several years. It’s been very educational to watch the growth of some of the other breweries that started up. The best chance to have a new business be successful is that you have to be passionate about what it is and what it does.

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