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David Geary, who brought craft brewing to Maine, dies at 78

“He was larger than life and a great dad.”

David Geary, the Portland, Maine brewmaster who founded New England’s first craft brewery, died this week at 78. 

Geary’s children, Kelly Lucas and Matthew Geary, shared the news in a Facebook post on Thursday. 

“Our funny, charming, gregarious, and cantankerous father passed away last night,” they wrote. “He was larger than life and a great dad.”

Geary’s family told the Portland Press Herald he died of natural causes, “surrounded by family and friends.”

In another Facebook post, The Geary Brewing Company — which Geary started in 1986, when there were just 13 microbreweries in the United States — remembered his “pioneering spirit and leadership,” which “played an integral part in the explosion of the American craft beer revolution.”


Both posts garnered an outpouring of condolences and fond memories of Geary. 

Geary learned how to brew beer in the 1980s working at breweries in Scotland and England. He brought the craft back to Portland and in 1986, alongside his then-wife Karen, opened his namesake brewery and introduced “D.L. Geary’s Pale Ale.” 

It was the beginning of a craft brewery boom in Maine, for which Geary largely paved the way.

“Maine is truly a beer destination now, and that started over 40 years ago when our parents had the idea to produce some English style ales and distribute them in Maine,” Lucas told the Press Herald.

“I’m very proud of the creativity and courage it took my parents to create something from scratch,” Matthew Geary added. “It’s comforting to go anywhere in Maine and see the ways my parents influenced Maine’s culture.”

Geary Brewing Company was sold in 2017 but kept its founder’s name, which continues to be celebrated in the world of New England craft brewing.


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