Maine Craft Beer: A Balance of Community and Quality
The eastern most state in the country—the Pine State or Vacationland as it is referred to on their constituent’s license plates—is notable for its agriculture and fishing industries, natural spring water resources and its rich history in the ship building industry. But currently, it’s Maine’s craft beer industry that’s standing out. The talented and unique breweries that call Maine home are having an undeniable impact on the local economy.
In 2013, the Brewers Association reported that Maine was home to 47 breweries and ranked fifth in the nation for breweries per capita. With one of the smallest populations in the U.S., Maine produced 259,654 barrels in 2013, which made them fifteenth in the country in overall production.
According to the Maine Brewers Guild, New England’s northernmost state sold $92.6 million worth of beer in 2013, which trumps the wild blueberry industry the state has become widely known for. The best news is that economists from the University of Maine have released an economic impact study saying that the Maine craft beer industry is set to grow by 200 percent by 2018.
So what’s behind the success of Maine’s healthy craft beer scene? Take a look at the quality of beers being produced in the state and that should give you a hint.
Allagash Brewing Company in Portland, Maine, is a pioneer of Belgian-style beer in America. Opening their doors in 1995 with their now immensely popular flagship, Allagash White, the brewery has led the way for other craft brands to develop in the wake of their success.
Companies like Maine Beer Co., who have been turning out well-balanced, hoppy American-style ales for years, continually receive praise from the Maine beer community and beyond.
What sort of economic impact are these breweries having in Maine? In addition to the revenue brought into the state from beer sales, Maine’s craft breweries are also providing more than 1,500 jobs and making strides to connect other local industries with their business.
The Maine Brewers Guild proclaims that more than half of the brewers in the state announced they are making efforts to source their ingredients locally. Because of this, the hop and malt growers in Maine are seeing increased demand. The Hop Yard, a Maine hop farm has expansion plans to make local hops more accessible for brewers in the area.
Maine has always been a tourist destination for its beaches and wilderness activities. However, now that beer enthusiasts are traveling for a taste of the beer, Maine has seen an increase in tourism. The beer tourism is enhanced by such concepts as the Maine Beer Trail, which makes finding the best craft beers in the area convenient for travelers.
It’s really no surprise that the state is fairing so well in the craft beer industry right now. The participating breweries are creating great products, while the people of Maine understand and appreciate the importance of supporting their local economy.
So raise a glass to the state of craft beer in Maine, and cheers to its bright future!
For more information on craft beer in Maine, check out the The Maine Thing Quarterly.
Photo © Allagash Brewing Company
Grant Puza is the current Craft Beer Program Intern at the Brewers Association. A Certified Beer Server and homebrewer, Grant spends most of his time educating himself further in the world of craft beer while working at The Post Brewing Company. If not visiting a local brewery, you might also catch him somewhere in the woods backpacking, rock climbing or snowboarding.