FARMINGTON – After a decade of making home brews, Matthew Swan is taking it to the next level by opening this area’s only commercial brewery in the Eastside Mall on Farmington Falls Road. A grand opening for Tumbledown Brewing will be held on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 2 to 6 p.m.
It was more than two years ago when Swan of Farmington, started looking for a location to open a small craft brewery around his hours as an employee of Northern Lights Hearth & Sports in Farmington.
“Finding a location was the toughest part,” Swan said. He needed a place with a concrete floor, the right drainage, space and utilities, along with frontage on a road with lots of traffic.
After Amy and Nate Morin of Industry purchased the 30-year-old mall a year ago at auction in February, they updated the building’s electrical and plumbing systems and painted the exterior. The couple then moved their Black Bear Graphics print shop into the mall.
The 1,000 square foot space at one end of the mall fit the bill with all the amenities he was looking for with lots of parking and good frontage on Farmington Falls Road, which is also busy Routes 2 and 27. Since last October, Swan and his army of family and friends have been renovating it.
“The renovations took a lot longer than I thought they would,” he said. The spacious grain room features a succession of six large kettles that allow for the grain to steep at temperature, be extracted before going into another kettle with hot water and sugar, that’s boiled. Hops are added to the mixture and then there’s the cool down period before the two or three weeks of fermentation magic to occur.
“I started with 5 gallons in the garage to 120 gallons now,” Swan said of his batch progression. He noted it all has been made easier with help from master brewer Carl Wegner of Wilton. Wegner was the brew master at the former Granary restaurant. Swan purchased the brewery’s equipment and Wegner has lent his commercial brewing know-how to help Swan set up Tumbledown Brewing.
“The first batch was a 17-hour day,” Swan said. “It’s been really neat having Carl help,” he added. Since then, a succession of batches and tasting and perfecting recipes mean there will be plenty of beer choice ready at the grand opening next week.
Swan will open with three of his signature beers: an Irish red titled Tumbledown Red, a smoke stout called Dog Star Stout and an IPA, Devil’s Hop Yard IPA.
Beer lovers are invited to visit the tap room and sample the beer, which will be available from the grand opening on for purchase by the growler. A growler is a glass jug that hold a half gallon of beer. The tap room will be open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. and on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. There’s a growler club deal, too. A $100 per year membership gives $2 off each refill and if you remember to bring your re-useable growler back, club members get a refill for $8.
Tumbledown Brewing’s beers will also be available at local restaurants and stores, such at Ron’s Market and Arkay Pizza.
While renovations and recipe perfecting was expected, Swan said the paperwork part of the business for required record-keeping is unexpectedly time consuming, although the permitting needed for state and federal licensing wasn’t too bad, he added.
Already thinking of the future, the brewery’s location allows for expansion, if needed. Some equipment may need updating at some point and “I may get into cans at some point,” Swan said.
“I’m learning a lot everyday, he said. One thing he does know: “It’s a passion for me; it’s really fun creating recipes that taste really good.”