GARDINER — The partners behind Bateau Brewing were punchy Thursday and were more than ready to open their doors.

Because that would not come for another day, Steve Casey, Matthew Kendall and Jim Swain were still busy putting tables and benches in place, fiercely and stubbornly debating the merits of the outside seating. They gathered behind the bar while their plumber explained what was going on with the dishwasher and tested the carbonation in the stout that will be one of their first offerings.

While the partners started talking about their plans last December, work started in earnest about five months ago.

The brewery opened to the public on Saturday.

“We’ve been working, the three of us, here six days a week since April,” Kendall said.

Since then, the three, assisted by local contractors and suppliers, have been laboring to transform the space they are leasing from a 19th century mercantile building on Water Street into a 21st century craft brewery and tasting room.

The changes include building a glass-encased brewing space, installing a grain silo on the side of the building and assembling a bar from which to dispense their brews. While they will start with five — a pale ale, an IPA, a white beer, a red ale and a stout — they have the capacity to serve 12 in all.

They’ve added oversized windows to open up a view of the Kennebec River as well as a small deck leading to picnic tables that also overlook the river and Waterfront Park.

At the same time, their brewers, Jon Boyorak and Chad Damren, have been helping out and working on the beers.

“Trying to get great beer takes time,” Kendall said. “One of the things we realized when we were shooting toward our opening at the end of July, we realized our beer was not where it needed to be. We need to make it right enough to present to the public.”

For now, everything they are presenting will be considered a test batch as the beers are fine-tuned.

“The fact that we have been trying to perfect the beer has allowed us the luxury of not working till midnight every day for the last four months,” Kendall said, “just normal days, six days a week.”

Arielle Roy, left, and Christin McKenzie arrange flowers Thursday in the tasting room at Bateau Brewing in Gardiner. Kennebec Journal photo by Andy Molloy

Some of the features of the space have evolved recently and has helped shape the space. While searching for tables and chairs, they found Barn Boards and More and Brett Trefethen and Amy Grant-Trefethen. From them, they heard about Matt Demers, whose paintings are now hanging in the tasting room. Rather than permanent art, Kendall said Bateau will invite other local artists to display their work.

“I don’t know anybody in the state that has done anything this fast, this furious and this beautiful (in) this short amount of time,” Casey said. “It’s basically five guys and a dream. It would have been very easy for any one of us to give up along the way. No one is happy on the home front in any of our households. But nobody, not once, said can’t do that today.”

Along the way, the five have figured out how to work together and how to craft a vision for the space when the budget imposed constraints on their ideas.

The craft brewery has been taking shape since earlier this year in the historic Dingley Block. The partners have leased the space from 149 Water Street LLC, which is owned by Roger Bintliff.

Bintliff, who has plans of his own to open Bintliff’s Corner Brew in the fall, spent Thursday bringing in and spreading a load of mulch for landscaping the strip of land just off the deck.

Gardiner Main Street acquired the Dingley Block in 2016 from Camden National Bank for $1.

Last winter, Gardiner Main Street sold the property in two lots. Bintliff’s LLC bought 141-153 Water St.

Alan Claude Inc. bought 161-165 Water St., with plans to redevelop the building into a gallery and a workshop space.

So while all the other final details are being completed — flower arrangement for the tables, cleaning up the odds and ends littering the bar, figuring out how to fix the water supply to the dishwasher — other details are being delayed. Because Bateau Brewing is a tasting room, it won’t serve meals, but they expect to have cheese plates and meat plates in a couple of weeks to complement the brews.

Kendall is still searching for a bateau that he can back light and use as part of table to finish out the space.

“We haven’t found it thus far,” Kendall said, “but it’s not going to prevent us from opening.”


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