Tributary Brewing Company to Open This Summer

After three transient decades, a New England brewing icon is putting down roots in Kittery, Maine.

Brewer Tod Mott from his days working at Harpoon. Photo courtesy of Tributary Brewing Company/Facebook.

Brewer Tod Mott from his days working at Harpoon. Photo courtesy of Tributary Brewing Company/Facebook.

The history of craft brewing is so new that most of the storied forefathers, well, they’re still around. Harpoon, Boston Beer Company, and Smuttynose might be bigger and more business savvy these days, but Rich Doyle, Dan Kenary, Jim Koch, and Peter Egelston, they can all still be found at their respective operations, training a new generation of quixotic brew masters.

But there’s one name among the East Coast giants who has taken a more meandering path. Tod Mott has always been a bit of a roving enigma, known for making his mark at a brewery, then moving along to fortify the reputation of another. In the book Crafty Bastards, author Lauren Clark follows Mott’s career from the legendary 1980s underground homebrew club, the Wort Processors, to subsequent stints at Catamount Brewing in Vermont, Harpoon, The Commonwealth Brewing Co., Back Bay Brewing, Quincy Ships (a brewery which failed after only one year), and Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire.

Even if you only have a fleeting interest in craft beer, chances are you’ve indulged in one of Mott’s recipes. While at Harpoon he created the brewery’s signature IPA, something which Kenary said “transformed the company.” Portsmouth’s famous Kate the Great Imperial Stout is another one of Mott’s contributions, as is his innovative practice of dry-hopping, now an industry standard.

After decades of influential work, the bearded icon is finally set to launch his own brand with Tributary Brewing Company in the burgeoning arts community of Kittery, Maine. Due to open in early July, the four-vessel, 15-barrel brewhouse will produce 1,000 barrels a year with a lineup of four year-round beers and one seasonal selection that will rotate monthly. Housed in a former grocery store, the brewery will have a tasting room where customers can purchase growlers, a regular circuit of food trucks outside for snacking (a concept Mott says he fell in love with in Denver), and even a farmer’s market on Wednesdays.

“It’s been a long haul, way longer than we were anticipating,” Mott says regarding his two-year long search for real estate and funding. “We initially had a site where a guy was going to build us a building from the ground up, but that fell through back in March of 2013. Then we looked into a different place that turned out not to have have running water or a sewer. Finally, this site fell into our hands in July and it has taken us this long to negotiate a lease and to start moving forward on the buildout.”

Despite having a bevy of investors and a loan from the Sanford Institute of Savings, the construction has exceeded initial estimates, so Mott has launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign to fund the final $60,000 worth of equipment. That figure will go towards a grain handling system, kegs, and a delivery vehicle. One week into its Kickstarter experiment, Tributary is slightly off-pace, but Mott is confident they’ll reach their intended goal. “Believe me, we’re going to get people to invest. Period.” Mott says with a laugh. “Somebody’s going to do it, dammit.”

Tributary’s debut beer list will include a sessionable pale ale (4.5% ABV),  a porter (5.5% ABV), an IPA (6.5% ABV), and a seasonal saison. “We’ll obviously do a summer saison that will be fairly light  and with a little bit of tart character,” Mott says. “Then we’ll do an autumnal saison, for which I’d like to get one of our local farmers to produce either pumpkins or squash to give it a little more body. The winter saison—which I’ve brewed quite a few of—will be quite a bit darker and stronger (8% ABV) with extra candy sugar in there.”

Mott says he’ll limit distribution to select accounts around Kittery in the brewery’s first year. But in 2015 he plans on expanding into the rest of Maine and other parts of New England.