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When John LeGassey and TJ Hansen opened Fore River Brewing in 2015 in the quiet South Portland neighborhood of Lygonia, they were the Neil and Buzz of the town’s craft beer scene: the first brewery to set foot in South Portland. “We just wanted to brew enough beer for the tasting room and do a little bit of distribution,” says LeGassey. However, the duo went from one small step to one giant leap almost overnight; they were brewing at full capacity in just under a year. “We were simply out of room,” LeGassey admits, “We needed to scale ourselves up a class.”

Fore River’s quest for more space ended four years later when TJ and John were approached by Mark Duval, owner of Duval’s Service Center and partner at Maine Custom Realty. TJ had worked as a mechanic for Mark at the Service Center before opening the brewery. The two had kept in touch, and Mark knew that Fore River was looking for room to grow. Not only did Mark have the lot space to fit the brewery’s needs–he had the perfect Maine General Contractor and Steel Crew in mind as well: PATCO Construction. 

Prefabricated steel brewhouse building designed by Patco Commercial Construction, ME

In his real estate world, Mark had heard rave reviews of PATCO for their quality commercial construction in Southern Maine. He completely trusted PATCO’s metal building specialists to create a beautiful steel building to house Fore River’s brews. “It’s a relatively small job for their typical scope,” Duval notes, “but [Vice President] Dennis [Waters] is a dead-on kind of guy. Never misses a deadline, never misses a meeting. He’s well-informed and well-prepared–there was never any miscommunication.” 

Active communication was key as the project pinged between John and TJ, Mark, PATCO, and the various subcontractors–especially since John and TJ still had a brewery to run. The brewers’ largest source of anxiety came from the idea of juggling so many subcontractors. “The number of people on site was unreal,” says LeGassey, “But everyone was always very professional and on-task. Every interaction was positive.” However, neither John nor TJ could be onsite everyday. “Dennis oversaw the minutiae of the day-to-day so we could keep our business going. We didn’t worry at all,” LeGassey explains. 

Keg on fork lift

Even with customized options such as extra drainage, specialized heaters for brewery equipment, and additional doors for ease of production and canning, the project stuck to its budget as well as to a perfect timeline. LeGassey attributes much of that budgetary and timing success to PATCO’s “phenomenal turnaround time with honest quotes and explanations.” 

When the new Fore River Brewing opens, it will include dedicated space for a laboratory and  offices, and house equipment to increase brewing capacity by over six times that of their previous location.

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