Portland’s Commons Brewery Very Quietly Lost Its Head Brewer

And for the moment, no one's talking.

(Commons, Christine Dong)

In one of the skull-scratchers of the summer, Commons Brewery head brewer Sean Burke departed the famed brewery this month with nary a public word spoken. Neither owner Mike Wright nor Burke are talking about the reasons behind the move.

“Sean left to explore other opportunities and we’re excited to see what comes next for him,” Wright tells WW via e-mail.
Burke, for his part, tells WW he’s “not free to discuss [his] next move,”—but by most secondhand accounts, the departure from Commons was somewhat sudden.
Burke unceremoniously changed his public Facebook status to “Former Brewer at the Commons” on July 1. This stands as his only public statement on the matter.
Related: Get your Grisette on at the Commons

Burke has been with the brewery ever since Wright founded the Commons in 2011—following Wright's stint as a garage brewer under the name Beetje.

Less than a year after the Commons officially opened its doors to the public, WW named its Commons Urban Farmhouse our beer of the year.

"It's an honor that wasn't won with a single glass or bottle, but by becoming a beloved standby," we wrote in 2013. "In a town where it's impossible to keep up with every exciting new brew, Urban Farmhouse achieved the difficult feat of becoming a beer worth going back to, again and again."

The little brewery has now become one of the most decorated in the state—which expanded in 2015 from a wee 7-barrel brewery into a 15-barrel showhouse on Belmont Street. Since 2012, the little brewery has been one of the very few in the country to receive at least one medal at the Great American Beer Festival every year since 2012, including two in both 2014 (silvers for Myrtle and Urban Farmhouse) and 2016 (bronzes for Petit Classique and Creme de Peche.)

The Commons, once famous for its focus on yeasty Belgians and reluctance to brew IPAs, has branched out into German brews and brewed a half-dozen IPAs in the past year—including a can release called "Pay No Attention to this IPA"—a few months prior to Burke's departure.

Now, Burke's duties will fall to Sam Pecoraro, a former brewer at Burnside Brewing before joining the Commons two years ago.

"Sam is a talented brewer with two plus years working our brew deck, cellar and lead on packaging," Wright tells WW. "He is intimately familiar with everything we do."

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