Twelve miles off the mainland, on picturesque Monhegan Island, Mary Weber and her husband Matt are hard at work brewing beer. “There are many challenges to running a business on an island,” says Mary during a break in her busy workday at Monhegan Brewing Co. “The biggest fact is that all raw ingredients, aside from the water, come from the mainland, and there are costs that come with that.”
But despite the challenges, Mary and Matt have created a thriving small business, complete with a tap house where they pour their inventive brews. Mary learned to brew from her father, who has been in the business for over 30 years. Although he’s in his 60s and, as Mary puts it, a bit of a “hop-head,” he enjoys experimenting with Mary and Matt on new styles of beer. “My dad has always been a very classic brewer,” she says. “He started out brewing very classic ales, like pale ales, oatmeal stouts and IPAs. Those are styles we enjoy, but since we’ve opened, we’ve also had time to experiment.”
The intergenerational exchange of ideas has lead to some cool beers, including a recent foray into brewing a citrus-tinged Kölsch (a German-style beer from Cologne) and a Berliner Weiss.
While sometimes Mary admits to being frustrated with customers who overlook her in the taproom—“They just assume the guy’s the brewer,” she says—she’s generally pretty happy being part of the female minority in the craft beer scene. “The industry may be male-dominated, but I think it’s changing slowly,” she says. “And other brewers just seem excited to be seeing new faces in the industry—men and women alike.”
Katy Kelleher is a writer and editor who lives in Buxton with two dogs and one husband.