By mid 2018 at the latest, Sanford will have not just one, but two craft breweries to call its own.
That’s the word from Mike Stec, owner and founder of the Camelback Brewing Company (find their Facebook page here), which officially became a tenant in the Spring Lane Galleria shopping center in west Sanford at the start of November.
Of course, there’s months of work ahead of Stec and his general manager, Randall Yow, in order to turn the empty restaurant space – formerly home to eateries like Davison’s Steaks and Next Door – into a fully functional five-barrel brewpub. But after spending the last several years brewing beer – at first at home as a hobby, and then in preparation for commercial purposes – Camelback is finally set to open in spring or summer of 2018. It joins Hugger Mugger Brewing, which announced in July that it hoped to open downtown before the end of 2017, as the first craft beer breweries to call Sanford home.
“We spent a lot of time doing market research, looking at different sites, that kind of stuff. We did the Arts & Vine Festival in 2016, a bunch of Temple (Theatre) events. Just things to get the word out and build the brand,” Stec explained. “A few months back we really started looking at doing a brewpub with food. A lot of breweries who aren’t offering food are seriously considering doing it now because it brings patrons in.”
Stec and Yow didn’t disclose specifics of the menu but said it would be both unique for Sanford and a compliment to the brewery side of things.
“It’ll work really well with craft beer and it’s not something anyone else in town is really doing,” said Yow, who currently runs the kitchen at downtown Sanford’s Smoke & Barrel.
Like many others in the craft brewing industry, Stec said he’s looking forward to not just opening his brewery, but also collaborating with others in the industry, locally and beyond. He plans to have about eight taps and regularly feature guest taps. He also said the success of the “Beer Den” at nearby Lowes Foods – as well as the memory of past tenants – played into the choice of location.
“The Beer Den has kind of grown into a thing of its own, and that made it attractive,” he said. “And Fitzgerald’s and W.B. Joyce having been right here, those are kind of institutions that people have a lot of memories of. We want to be that neighborhood brewpub.”