AUGUSTA — Amanda Brewer, part of the fourth generation to work her family’s business, made her last deliveries Friday for Brewer’s Dairy of Augusta, which has closed after 80 years.

For the past 30 years, the business was run out of now-77-year-old Pat Brewer’s Riverside Drive home, where the company built a large cooler to hold the Oakhurst and Hood products it delivered and where Pat in recent years oversaw the books for the business from a bedroom converted into an office.

Pat Brewer was 15 years old when she first went to work for business founder and family patriarch, the late Fred Brewer, and has worked there ever since. She said the family decided to close the business because her husband, Warren, died three years ago and her son, Scott, is no longer able to deliver milk because of health problems, including diabetes.

“It’s very sad for all of us. That’s been our only job all our lives,” Pat Brewer said Friday, Brewer’s Dairy’s last day.

“Scott followed in his father’s footsteps, and kept going until he realized he couldn’t do it anymore, either. We hated leaving our customers. They’re like family to us. But there’s nobody left that’d take over, so we had to give (customers) notice and call it a good life.

“We’ve all had a good living out of it. We enjoyed our customers and think they enjoyed us, too. They’re small customers, most of them the big guys don’t want.”

A young Scott Brewer, grandson of Brewer’s Dairy founder Fred Brewer, with one of the company delivery trucks. Photo courtesy of Brewer’s Dairy

Amanda Brewer, 27 and trained as a certified nursing assistant, stepped back into the family business and took the wheel of one of Brewer’s Dairy’s two delivery vans to help fill the shoes of her father, Scott, in a role she’s also previously filled by helping her late grandfather, Warren, when he became unable to do the heavy lifting the job requires due to health problems.

“It’s in my blood. I grew up in the cooler. I went on the truck with my grandfather and did the lifting for him, because he wasn’t able to,” she said Friday while making deliveries to businesses in Gardiner including Ainslee’s Market, Dave’s Diner, Gerard’s Pizza and Tigertown Beverage.

“When my dad got sick, I took on his deliveries for him because my family needed me. I wanted to be there for (her father, Scott) because he’s always been there for me.”

She said her fondest memories as a little girl are of going on deliveries in her grandfather’s big truck, and seeing her grandfather and father do what they did best: Delivering dairy products, quality service and personality.

“They’re just awesome people, as nice as you can be. Their customer service is excellent and their personalities are great,” said Stacy Caron, co-owner of Gerard’s Pizza in Gardiner with her husband, Claude, who, between his two ownership stints of Gerard’s, has been doing business with the Brewers for some 20 years.

“It’s sad to see another local business go. Everybody knows them. Half the town comes in for lunch, and they all know the Brewers. They feel like family.”

An undated photo of a Brewer’s Dairy pickup truck. Photo courtesy of Brewer’s Dairy

The business began as a dairy farm, which Fred Brewer ran after working at a mill, in the late 1930s or early 1940s, according to family members.

Pauline Brewer Peters, the second oldest of Fred and Ruth Brewers’ seven children, worked in the dairy’s office until she got married and moved to Massachusetts in 1953.

She recalls her father getting up at 3 a.m. to start his day. And he would get up even earlier when her brother Warren took over the business, with sister Joyce running the office for many years.

Brewer’s Dairy founder Fred Brewer at the former Augusta dairy’s bottling machine. Photo courtesy of Brewer’s Dairy

In the early years Fred Brewer would take his team of horses from the Riverside Drive farm, just north of the now Red Barn Restaurant, down to the Kennebec River to cut ice and haul it back to the farm to keep their milk cold.

Brewer Peters, now 85 and living in Windham, recalls when she was young and her mother was notified Fred had fallen through the ice with his team of horses.

Over the years, the business grew from the dairy farm to become a bottling and distribution center for dairy. At one point, it had seven delivery trucks, a larger truck that picked up milk from farms and about 15 employees.

Customers included nearly all the local schools, Togus, and nursing homes and hospitals.

In 1989, the Brewers sold the operation to Hood, which hired all its employees, as well as Warren and Scott Brewer. Pat Brewer said neither her husband nor son had ever worked for anybody else and, therefore, did not really like the new arrangement.

They decided to restart a smaller version of the family business, delivering dairy products in the Augusta area, with Scott delivering to numerous customers in the Boothbay area, an area he served for about 40 years.

Bryan Peters of Connecticut, who is Pauline Brewer Peters’ son, said his grandfather’s favorite slogan was, “We’ll take a day off when the cows do.”

“And, of course, the cows never did,” Bryan Peters said.

He said the company delivered milk to homes, and kept delivering to families with children even when those families had not paid their bills and were racking up sizable tabs.

“His philosophy was: If a child was living in the home, it doesn’t matter how high their tab was up, you’d still deliver there,” Bryan Peters said. “The idea then was children needed milk so you’d deliver it.”

One of Fred and Ruth Brewer’s children, Roger, built the building that is now the Red Barn Restaurant, next to the dairy farm and dairy processing plant, as a place to sell ice cream made at the family’s dairy.

The late Warren Brewer, son of Brewer’s Dairy founder Fred Brewer. Photo courtesy of Brewer’s Dairy

Brewer family members said they wanted to thank the employees and customers they have had over the years.

Amanda Brewer said many of the customers to whom she delivered for the last time Friday were upset because they did did just do business with one another. They had become friends, too.

Caron, whoco-owner of Gerard’s Pizza in Gardiner, said Brewer’s Dairy delivered smaller orders than bigger companies, filled the cooler for cusotmers and took away expired product and credited them for it.

Now, she said, she and her husband will have to go with their larger supplier, which requires larger minimum purchases.

More important, Caron added, she will miss the Brewer family.

“We really took care of the little people,” Pat Brewer said. “They just stayed with us, and we enjoyed them all. It’s been a long road, but a good one, and we all enjoyed what we did.”


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