The first time Sam Wilson tried brewing beer, it was in the closet of his college apartment.

It didn’t go as planned.

“It was just a can of malt extract that was already hopped, and mixed with boiling water, and then (I added) yeast to it,” Wilson recalled. “The bottle exploded.”

Now, after eight years of brewing experience, Wilson and business partner Jason Allen are gearing up to open Brunswick’s third brewery, Black Pug Brewing, at 30 Bath Road.

Black Pug will join the recently opened Moderation Brewing at 103 Maine St., and Flight Deck Brewing at Brunswick Landing, which opened last year. The goal is to be open by October.

Although his college experiment didn’t yield great beer, Wilson said the experience acted as a catalyst that made him want to improve.


“That initial failure just kind of pushed me to keep perfecting it a little bit more over time,” he said.

Eventually, his brewing progressed to the point where he said he was “pretty much (running) a small brewery as a hobby,” he said. Opening a brick-and-mortar business, he said, is a way of “continuing that progression of scaling up.”

The name Black Pug Brewing was inspired by Wilson’s dog, Gir. Wilson said pugs as a breed encapsulate what the business will be about.

“They call pugs a big dog in a small body, and we’re hoping to be a big brewery in small tanks,” he said. “We want to have that same impression, that same personality, and a little bit of craziness, too.”

The brewery will be housed in the former home of Turtle Rock Farm, a craft cannery that made seasonal preserves. Wilson and Allen have been working on renovating the space for a little over a month.

Working out of a building that was already equipped for a kitchen, Wilson said, has made the transformation easier.


“It really was just a case of bringing our equipment in here,” he said. “That was definitely something that was really helpful starting out.”

They are also planning on building their own bar out of concrete, which he said illustrates the “do-it-yourself” nature of the small business.

“It’s interesting because it’s a little more like the earlier days of craft brewing, where it was home brewers coming in and just trying to make and sell their beer,” Wilson said. “When you’ve got 11 investors and a bunch of money coming in, it’s a little bit of a different game than trying to build your own bar because you don’t want to hire a carpenter.”

As for the brews Black Pug will produce, Wilson said the owners hope to create a really “diverse array” of offerings.

He said he prefers to use “culinary” flavors in his beer, including fruits and spices, and is hoping to bring in as many exotic or “local, but overlooked” flavors as possible.

Wilson said having three tanks for fermenting will allow the production of a variety of beers.


“The nice thing about this scale is, I’m only making 60 gallons at a time, so it’s just a case of, if something doesn’t work it’s not the end of the world,” he said. “If I had to get rid of 200 gallons of beer that didn’t work, that’s a much bigger problem.”

Black Pug also will serve nitro cold brew coffee for those who don’t want beer, but will not immediately have a food menu. The owners hope to serve small plates such as charcuterie after the business is established.

To start out, only Wilson, his wife, Emi, Allen, and Allen’s wife, Amanda, will work at Black Pug.

And while Wilson called opening a business like the new brewery “a classic American dream,” he acknowledged that in an era when craft beer is booming, having a niche is crucial.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: