In a press release from the Maine Brewers Guild today, May 15, 2014: “Maine’s Craft Beer industry poised for 200% growth in next 4 years”
A lofty prediction that is supported by a study provided by economists at the University of Maine. The study found that Maine breweries sold $92.6 Million worth of beer in 2013 and employed close to 1500 workers. The estimated overall impact on the Maine economy in 2013 related to Maine Craft beer is $189 million.
The study found that Maine brewers plan on increasing production by 36% between 2013 and 2014 up to 200% by 2018. It’s also worth noting that that information came from the 35 breweries that were operating in Maine in 2013, today there are 53 breweries in operation and 5 more that plan to open before the end of the year.
“The future is bright for Maine craft beer,” says Dan Kleban, owner of Maine Beer Co. and president of the Maine Brewers’ Guild. “We are creating sustainable manufacturing jobs, driving tourism, and supporting allied industries like Maine farms.”
As craft beer in Maine continues to grow it will have an impact on businesses around the state that are supported by the industry. Brewing supports Maine farmers: grain and hops are core ingredients that are both grown right here in Maine, not to mention the spent grain brewing by-products that are supplied to local farmers to feed their herd. Ryan Houghton from The Hop Yard had this to say when asked about the growth in Maine craft beer: “It has greatly excited us and enabled us to be confident in our large acreage expansion of The Hop Yard”
Seeing the growth and hearing the demand from brewers for locally malted grains, Joel Alex is working on opening the Blue Ox Malthouse, the first malthouse in Maine since the early 1800’s. This addition will allow Maine brewers to source locally grown and malted grains that are currently not available, create a new local Maine business and in turn create jobs.
Beer Tourism is booming in Maine, there are currently two beer specific tour companies in Portland, Maine. I reached out to Zachary Poole, owner of The Maine Brew Bus to find out how the growth in Maine’s craft beer industry has impacted his business. “The growth of craft beer in Maine has put Maine at the top for beer tourism. The Maine Brew Bus has had to add to its fleet and staff to accommodate the beer loving tourists and locals looking for a safe, all inclusive fun way to see these breweries.” Maine has quickly developed into an east coast craft beer destination, last summer saw The Festival in Portland which was a huge boost to the local economy and this August will bring Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp across America beer festival, this premiere Brewfest will bring an influx of people into Portland which will be beneficial to restaurants, hotels, bars, taxi services just to name a few.
Growth always bring out the doomsday theorists, “The Craft Beer Bubble” is a common topic of discussion amongst beer geeks: “I’m often asked if I am worried that we are getting close to market saturation here in Maine,” said Sean Sullivan, Executive Director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, “but I don’t think we’re anywhere close. There’s still a huge amount of market share that craft beer stands to gain nationally and here in our state. There’s also a strong sense of community in our industry – not all breweries brew the same styles of beer and collaboration is prized, so it’s not a winner-takes-all type of market.”
Maine isn’t just the Lobster and Blueberry state anymore; it’s becoming synonymous with quality craft beer as well.