Fill The Steins at Orono Brewing Company

IMG_3999Orono.  Brewing.  Company.  What a perfect marriage of all the things Fill The Steins stands for!  The home of UMaine AND a startup craft brewery, all in one.  Fill The Steins, you say?  Don’t mind if I do.  Though it’s been open since New Year’s Eve, this marks FTS’s maiden voyage to OBC, and a delightful trip it was…



Background: OBC is the brain/business child of the same crew who brings you quality experiences at Woodman’s in Orono and Verve in Orono and Bangor.  So, you know you’re starting at from a good baseline.  Like every brewery, OBC says that they use the best water, best hops, malt, and ingredients of all sorts.  But here’s the thing: I’m fortunate to know Head Brewmaster, Asa Marsh-Sachs, and, well…  If Asa says it’s good beer, it would take a much snootier, snobbier beer geek than yours truly to disagree.  After years of selling home brew kits and teaching greater Bangor about the finer points of brewing, Asa joined OBC to take what he’d describe as a dream job.  And Maine beer drinkers are fortunate he did.


   The Brew Master himself


Living near Portland, it’s not like I can go to OBC every weekend, right?  (OK, I could, but I prefer to spend gas money on good beer, thankyouverymuch…)  So, the natural choice was to SAMPLE!  As with most breweries, smaller pours on sampler boards are offered, so patrons can discover the tastes of many of the beers.  The night we went, there were nine brews on tap.  Somewhat coincidentally, the sampler paddles hold five, and so, well…  I tried them all, from A to Z.  Or, more appropriately, from IPA to stout.


Look, they were all good.  (And they rotate often, so these are only nine of the many recipes OBC is putting out…)  I definitely had two favorites, though.  The two IPAs – Jack’s White IPA and especially the extra-strength Heat Lightning Double IPA were signature Maine craft beers for me: full of hops and citrus, bold and crisp the whole way through.  (And this is coming from a guy who typically likes his beers malty and sweeter…)  The stouts were creamy – the Woodman’s Stout was appropriately smoky, and the Chocolate Stout lived up to its name.  And the big surprise – the Coffee White Nitro Cream – certainly tasted of a creamy café au lait; whether you like that or not, it’s a sign of the creativity and willingness to experiment that OBC has built into its young culture.  For me, that will be the thing that makes OBC a success – letting Asa do his thing, and taking good care of the beer he makes for us all to enjoy.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the atmosphere, too.  OBC rocks the vinyl on its sound system – everything from old school soul to punk, and like the beer, it’s always something that’s a welcome delight for the senses.  It’s a small, friendly place, with just a peek through windows behind the bar of the brewing operations – just the kind I like to share a beer with 24 of my closest friends (new or old).  But get this: with the eventual warmer weather, OBC will spill outside onto a new patio with tables and cornhole, to boot.  That’s good news for all of us, after the long winter of 2015, I’d say.


The FTS Rundown:

20 Main Street, Orono, ME (downstairs from Verve in Orono)

Hours vary: open at 3PM during the week; open til midnight on Thu-Sat.

Yes, they take plastic.

Parking: There’s a lot shared with other businesses, plus on-street parking. Walking distance from downtown Orono.

Beer only. But you won’t want much else, promise.

Vibe is casual.  Casually awesome.

OBC’s Social Media: Facebook; Twitter; Instagram












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