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Updated: August 13, 2019

Maine Beer Box brings 78 craft beer taps to Canada

beer box crowd Courtesy / Maine North Atlantic Development Office The Maine Beer Box just completed its third international trip with a stop at the Halifax (Nova Scotia) Seaport Cider and Beer Festival. The giant kegerator is helping to develop export markets for Maine craft brewers.

The Maine Beer Box just completed its third international trip with a stop at the Halifax, Nova Scotia, Seaport Cider and Beer Festival last weekend.

With 78 taps and more than 100 Mainers pouring craft beer from the giant "kegerator," the Maine Beer Box is helping to develop export markets for Maine craft brewers.

New international business has some brewers seeking out export credit insurance to protect them as they explore new markets.

Maine had representatives from more than 40 breweries at the festival. There were more than 6,000 attendees.

“This is a new opportunity for exports and so it generates that pride, which ultimately calls attention to the huge economic impact that our industry is having,” Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, said in a press release. “I think there’s a great opportunity to inspire other businesses to think about the global opportunities, to be a gateway to Europe and Canada, and the trade that could happen there.”

Trade is already happening for a handful of Maine brewers that have been part of the Beer Box. Four Maine breweries are now part of Beer52, a craft beer club based in the United Kingdom that sends a selection of beers to customers around the world. The Maine Beer Box traveled to Leeds, England last fall. Baxter Brewing in Lewiston, D.L. Geary Brewing in Portland, Rising Tide Brewing in Portland and Sebago Brewing in Gorham ended up with significant orders for their beer overseas.

The guild touts the Maine Beer Box as the world’s largest mobile kegerator. The 40-foot refrigerated shipping container launched three years ago with a trip to Iceland.

Export challenges

Traveling as one of many breweries on the Beer Box is one thing, but exporting tens of thousands dollars of beer overseas as an individual brewer can be challenging and exposes the company to risk and financing challenges.

The four breweries that are part of Beer52 have turned to the Export-Import Bank of the United States and NaviTrade Structured Finance in Falmouth to protect and finance their overseas sales through export credit insurance, according to the release.

Courtesy / Maine North Atlantic Development Office
The Maine Beer Box will be shipping back to Maine packed with beers from the Atlantic Provinces to be served at a Portland festival in October.

Brent Hoots, principal and founder of NaviTrade Structured Finance, helped write policies for the breweries using EXIM bank’s insurance and  continues to work closely with the breweries managing their programs.

“The export credit insurance allows the breweries to extend competitive open account credit terms needed by the international distributor, achieve financing of the breweries’ foreign receivables, and provides peace of mind to these Maine companies regarding their greatest fear — not getting paid,” Hoots said in the release.

If the foreign buyer doesn’t pay, the insurance covers up to 95% of the invoice value. The four Maine breweries working with NaviTrade and EXIM Bank have shipped close to $300,000 in beer exports protected by export credit insurance.

"We certainly want to take advantage of these new opportunities to sell our product beyond the U.S. market, but it's a business strategy that does come with additional risk,” Kai Adams, founder of Sebago Brewing Co., said in the release. “NaviTrade and EXIM Bank are giving us the support we need to finance the sale of our beer to overseas markets and effectively manage the risk of not getting paid.”

An economic impact study conducted by the University of Maine in conjunction with the Maine Brewers’ Guild found Maine’s craft beer industry contributed more than $260 million to the state’s economy in 2017.

The box traveled to Leeds, England, last fall and first went abroad in 2017, to Reykjavik, Iceland.

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