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Updated: October 26, 2021

Maine Beer adds juice to nonprofit's $1.3M effort to buy 3 Casco Bay islands

aerial island view Photo / Jerry Monkman Little Whaleboat, Nate and Tuck are a cluster of three small islands and ledges in Casco Bay that Maine Coast Heritage Trust aims to buy from private owners for conservation purposes and to ensure public access.

As Maine Coast Heritage Trust nears the finish line of a $1.3 million quest to buy three small Casco Bay islands for conservation purposes, the Topsham-based nonprofit is getting an added boost from one of its donors.

Freeport-based Maine Beer Co., which donated $50,000 to the cause this summer, will release a new IPA next month to raise awareness of Maine Coast Heritage Trust's campaign to buy and preserve the islands for plant and animal habitats. The Topsham-based nonprofit also aims to ensure public access to the lands.

Known as the Little Whaleboat Islands Project, the effort concerns three islands and ledges west of Harpswell that provide sanctuary to seals and several species of seabirds who nest and roost on the rocks; while acreage varies with the tides, Little Whaleboat, Nate and Tuck islands are estimated to take up around 20 acres.

While Little Whaleboat (West), Nate and Tuck islands are currently in private hands, Maine Coast Heritage Trust has an option to buy them directly from the family owners. The nonprofit has until the end of this year to raise the $1.3 million needed to acquire and care for the islands as public preserves.

Beyond its direct donation, Maine Beer Co. aims to bring greater public attention to the fundraising campaign through a new beer to be released Nov. 8. 

Little Whaleboat beer bottle against outdoor nature setting
Courtesy / Maine Beer Co.
Message in a bottle from Maine Beer Co.: Little Whaleboat IPA is due to be released on Nov. 8.

The beer, called Little Whaleboat IPA, will be the brewer's first new release since Prince Percy Pilsner in 2020, according to Anne Marisic, the brewery's marketing and communications manager.

She also said the initial batch will be 30 barrels, to be released in bottles and on draft exclusively from the brewer's Freeport tasting room.

Little Whaleboat IPA is a 6.5% beer billed as a light-bodied IPA with notes of mango and pineapple as well as grapefruit and pine, and floral aromas of rose and chamomile. Plans for regional and national distribution are planned for 2022, according to a press release issued on Monday.

Maine Beer Co. was ranked No. 3 in a Mainebiz list of Maine's largest brewers ranked by annual production in barrels, behind Allagash Brewing Co. (No. 1) and Shipyard Brewing Co. (No. 2). 

The partnership with Maine Coast Heritage Trust stems from the brewer's commitment to 1% for the Planet, an international nonprofit based in Burlington, Vt., through which Maine Beer Co. donates 1% of gross annual sales to 18 environmental nonprofits, or more than 30 including staff scholarships.

Of the Little Whaleboat Islands project, Maine Beer Co. co-founder Daniel Kleban said. "When the opportunity comes to permanently protect a place like this, right in our backyard, we have to seize it. There aren't many spaces like this, and it's the right thing to do."

$260,000 more to raise 

David Warren, planned giving and major gifts officer at Maine Coast Heritage Trust, said that the plan to buy the islands will prevent development that would have stood in the way of conservation and "extinguished" public access.

"It's about habitat and conserving the land for environmental purposes, and it's also for public access forever," he told Mainebiz.

Grateful for support from all donors including Paul's Marina in Brunswick which also gave $50,000, Warren said that he's confidently optimistic of raising the remaining $260,000 needed before the Dec. 31 deadline.

"This is one of the most publicly supported projects we have ever had, and the amount of support we're receiving is a wonderful thing," he said.

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