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December 20, 2018

Maine's still-growing craft beer industry ranked 9th by bloggers

Photo / Michele Stapleton
Photo / Michele Stapleton
Started by two Brunswick natives, Mattie Daughtry and Philip Welsh, Moderation Brewing Co. is one of 13 new Maine brewers this year. This week the ranking website Thrillist ranked Maine 9th out of the 50 states for its local beer.

The ranking website Thrillist says Maine is 9th out of the 50 states for its local beer, a nod toward an industry in the state that shows no signs of slowing down.

At least 16 breweries have opened in Maine this year, bringing the total in the to at least 120.

"We make great beer in Maine -- and this is another sign we're being recognized nationally for the effort," Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewer's Guild told Mainebiz. "Perhaps more importantly, we're making a lot of different styles of beer in Maine -- and it's the breadth and depth that makes us proud to be brewers in Maine."

Food bloggers Mike Lynch and Andy Kryza, of Thrillist, said, "If all Maine had going for it was Maine Beer Co., it'd still be in a damn fine place, as anyone who's ever had a sip of their Lunch or Dinner knows they aren't just fun names -- it's legitimately tempting to fully replace meals with them and bask on the overflow of juicy hops.

"But there's so much more! Allagash has been so good for so long that it sometimes gets a bit taken for granted. Oxbow is dynamite with saisons. Bissell Brothers Swish is right there with MBC's best efforts.

"Foundation has only been at it a couple of years and is already turning heads. We're going to stop there and lose ourselves in a daydream about moving to Portland and subsisting entirely on a diet of lobster rolls and hazy IPAs. You should, too."

California was ranked first, and Mississippi 50th. Also making the top 10 are Massachusetts (5) and Vermont (6). The rest of New England didn't fare as well — Connecticut is 36th, New Hampshire was 39th and Rhode Island 43rd.

New breweries in 2018

While lists are subjective, the statistics show Maine's craft brewing industry is not slowing down.

As of April 17, Maine was home to 117 active licensed breweries, representing 98 unique brands, according to the Maine Brewers Guild.

According to the Guild, there were 73 active breweries in 2015; 18 opened and none closed in 2016; 16 opened and 1 closed in 2017.

In November, the brewers guild listed 13 that had opened this year, welcoming its "freshman class" in a celebration at the Bayside Bowl in Portland.

It's not clear how many of those 13 were part of the 117 figure the guild cited in April, but breweries that have opened late this year aside from those celebrated at the Portland party include Side by Each in Auburn, 207 Beer Co. in Brewer and Liberator Brewing Co. in Rockland.

"The Mainers who opened up breweries in the past 12 months are a great example of how beer continues to create economic development in all corners of the state," Sullivan said in November. "We have entrepreneurs who are opening up breweries on Main Street in tourist-laden downtowns, down peninsulas on country roads and some who are diversifying their existing farm businesses with an on-site brewery."

Economic boost

Maine is among the top states for beer brewed per capita and in the middle, or lower, for its economic impact as compared to other states, according to the Brewers Association, a national small brewery and craft beer organization.

Maine was third in the nation in breweries per 100,000 adults over 21 (9.6 breweries per of-drinking-age adult), and 18th in overall craft breweries (99). The figures are for 2017.

It's ninth in barrels of beer produced — 319, 590, which is 9.6 gallons per over-21 state resident (7th in the nation).

It's 36th in overall economic impact — with craft breweries ejected $476 million into the state's economy a year. It's ninth in economic impact per capita -- $471.45 a year per person.

The number of craft breweries operating in the state has gone from 34 to 99 since 2011.

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