Mike Fava grew up in Philadelphia and turned his engineering background and love for brewing into a successful career. As Head brewer at Oxbow Brewing in Maine, he helped that business grow and expand, establishing himself as one of the most skilled brewers in the State.
Brienne Allan’s story was similar. A native of Massachusetts, her love and dedication to the advanced science of the brewing process drove her to great heights and accolades as the head of production at Notch Brewing In Salem.
Both masters in their field, Mike and Brienne were invited to speak at a conference focusing on lager production. When they met on the dais, something clicked and the two brewers began to exchange thoughts and ideas and realized they shared the same dream. Together, they wanted to bring the methods of lager production from the Czech Republic, practices that haven’t changed in over 200 years, and introduce the Tankovna pub to North America.
The tankovna or “tankpub” means tanks of fresh lager are the pubs visual and functional centerpiece, usually displayed under a glass bar or displayed prominently in the barroom. Most often these pubs would serve just one variety of beer, in fact, Prague’s oldest pub,
U Fleků, has been serving the same dark lager since 1499 and you’d be hard-pressed to find an empty seat.
Before long they were off to the Czech Republic to study for several weeks at the hands of the experts at Pilsner Urquell. Even techniques like pouring from the custom LUKR “side-pour” faucet were part of the in-depth training. “The way it’s being poured changes the drinking experience, changes the mouthfeel, even the perceived bitterness,” says Fava. A common Czech refrain is “The brewer brews the beer, but the tapster makes the beer.”
Brienne and Mike were the first English speaking people to graduate from the program. So intent were they to understand every nuance, they even hired a full time translator for each session.
Back in Biddeford, Maine, planning and construction was beginning on what would become the first tankpub in North America. With Brienne as Head Brewer and Michael as Director of operations, they partnered with Erin Sheehan, already famous in the area for designing beautiful spaces and Carson James, a sought after restauranteur with Philly roots and global influences.
The space was designed to impress and it ticks all the boxes. As you enter, multiple 500 litre copper tanks appear to be floating above the bar. These tanks contain the two beer varieties offered, a pale and a dark lager.
Both Brienne and Michael were familiar with Specific Mechanical equipment having brewed on Spec mech equipment at their previous brewers and knew that’s what they needed for the quality and consistency they were looking for. With a 10 barrel, 3-vessel system, they had the perfect configuration for efficient decoction and step mashing.
Today, Sacred Profane is a well-oiled machine. Reviews on the beer are almost 5 out of 5 on the untapped charts, the food pairings have a fittingly European influence with a local flair, such as the smoked haddock chowder which has been named one of the best in the State.
While the average hipster searching for a kale and acorn-inspired, hazy IPA might start off wearing a frown, evidence suggests that the care, attention to detail and old world methods are a recipe for success for Sacred Profane, more than enough to turn any frown upside down!
All this good news is topped off with Michael and Brienne expecting the addition of a junior brewer in a few short weeks!