Maine Beer Trends

Maine Public radio aired a show this past week entitled “Innovative trends in Maine’s beer scene” with panelists Rob Tod from Allagash, Shea Cusick from the Maine Brewer’s Guild, and Jenn Lever from Baxter Brewing as well as a variety of callers from the beer industry.

Brewing beer remains big business in Maine. We’ll learn about how the industry is constantly innovating in this competitive industry, including taking new approaches with tasting rooms, packaging, flavors—and expanding beer offerings to include more non-alcohol and gluten-free offerings.

Sebago Brewing

The Press Herald Tap Lines column has taken a look back at the 25-year history of Sebago Brewing.

The year is 1998. Bill Clinton is impeached by the House of Representatives. Viagra is approved by the FDA. Google is founded. “Titanic” wins 11 Academy Awards, and “The Big Lebowski” debuts. The Chicago Bulls win their sixth NBA title in eight years, as Michael Jordan plays his final game for the team, the same year that Celtics star Jayson Tatum is born. The historic Ice Storm slams Maine. And a new brewpub, Sebago Brewing Co., opens in the Maine Mall parking lot, in a building previously occupied by a Chinese restaurant called Hu Ke Lau.

Interview with Tom Ruff

Mainebiz has published an interview with Tom Ruff, the founder of Orange Bike Brewing.

Entrepreneur and cycling enthusiast Tom Ruff shifted gears from medical recruiting to gluten-free brewing, with plans to launch Orange Bike Brewing in Portland later this year. With construction still in progress at 31 Diamond St. in Portland, he gave Mainebiz the lowdown.

For more information on Orange Bike Brewing see this report on the brewery.

A Maturing Beer Industry

This week’s Tap Lines article in the Press Herald provides an overview of the developments in brewery industry in Maine.

Bart Watson, the chief economist for the Brewers Association, projects brewery openings and closings to become “more balanced” in the coming years. Writing in The New Brewer, Watson says this is “not a sign of a collapsing market or bubble bursting, but the realization of a longer trend toward a more mature market.”

Sacred Profane Brewing

This month’s edition of Mainer includes an article about Sacred Profane Brewing, the new Czech-style lager bewery that recently opened in Biddeford.

“It’s very specialized — the equipment you need, the knowledge base,” Fava explained. “I think a lot of that plays into why there are 171 breweries in Maine, and there’s only one that only makes lagers. It’s a little bit of a coup. I will give ourselves a pat on the back. We have been in the industry for a while and we have worked hard to gain the knowledge to learn the systems, to travel to the places where these styles originate, and that doesn’t happen overnight…. It’s been a life goal and a life mission and a career working towards this moment, and I couldn’t be more happy about how it turned out.”

Brienne Allan, Sacred Profane

The Press Herald has published an article about Brienne Allan, a co-owner and the head brewer at the soon-to-open new Biddeford brewery Sacred Profane (more info).

The lagers she’s producing now are like the brewer’s equivalent of double-black diamond ski trails. They demand technical expertise, an intuitive feel for the brewing process that comes from years of experience, and a sophisticated, nuanced palate.

“Brienne is easily one of the most knowledgeable brewers I’ve ever encountered, especially when it comes to Czech- and German-style lagers,” said Robert Hughes, marketing manager of Notch Brewing. “No one is as fastidious, passionate, creative or knowledgeable as she is in that field, for sure.”

NA Beer

This week’s Portland Phoenix includes an article about Maine’s growing non-alcoholic beer market.

Portland is renowned for its craft beer scene, its brewery parking lots packed with cars with out-of-state vehicles.

But two newer craft beers – 1820 and Kit NA – are setting themselves apart in a fairly big way: they’re alcohol-free.

Non-alcoholic beer has come a long way in the past few years. Gone are the days when a beer lover’s only options were O’Doul’s or St. Pauli Girl. Now, the market for craft non-alcoholic beer is taking off, and even the biggest beer snob can probably find something they like, from hazy IPAs to dark coffee stouts.

KitNA launched in 2021 and 1820 Brewing has just launched this month.

1820 Brewing Company

A new non-alcoholic brewery called 1820 Brewing Company (website, facebook, instagram) is soon to launch.

The Portland-based brewery produces four beers, a raspberry sour, an American pale ale, an IPA, and a blond ale. All four are available in six-packs. The beers are being distributed by  Nappi and Pine State, and are already on the shelves at the UFO Store in Naples. 1820 hopes to see their products on bottle shop shelves and on restaurant and bar menus across New England.

1820 is an independently operated business. It’s been founded by Alan Lapoint who also owns DL Gearys Brewing which he bought from David and Karen Geary in 2017. Lapoint shared that he is, “excited about the mission of this new company and its focus on the NA market, which is growing by triple digits nationally”.

Two New Breweries: Newscapes and Idiomatic

Maine beer fans will have two more breweries to choose from.

Newscapes Brewing (website, facebook, instagram) recently launched in Portland. The brewery was launched by Jeff Curran and is located at 163 Washington Ave. You can learn more about their line-up of beers on their website. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday, noon to 8 pm.

A new brewery called Idiomatic Brewing (website, instagram) is under development. The founders have a decade of combined industry experience in Maine and elsewhere. Their first three beers will be Ninety in the Shade (4.6%, lager), Missed the Boat (6.2%, American IPA), Sliced Bread (6.3%, dubbel-style ale). Launch timing and location details are still TBD.

Brew for Ukraine

Oxbow Brewing is taking part in the Brew for Ukraine (website, facebook) Victory Beer Series launched by Pravda Brewing in Lviv, Ukraine.

Pravda is making their recipes and label art available for their dry hopped strong ale, Belgian tripel, American red ale, Belgian witbier, and Ukrainian imperial stout.

Oxbow began brewing a version of the Belgian witbier at 4 am Tuesday morning and expects it will be available in six weeks. The proceeds will be donated to aid Ukrainians fleeing from the war.

Other Maine brewers: please drop us a line if you’re also taking part in Brew for Ukraine.