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Updated: October 16, 2019

Maine craft-beer collaboration raises a glass to women's suffrage

Maine Gov. Janet Mills with brewers at Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland Photo / Renee Cordes From left, at Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland, Gov. Janet Mills with Rising Tide's Heather Sanborn, Moderation Brewing's Mattie Daughtry and Rising Tide's Allie Roach.

What happens when two women in Maine craft brewing — who also happen to be state lawmakers — get together with the state’s first female governor?

They brew up a storm, in the form of a beer celebrating women’s suffrage.

The limited-edition ale, to be called Ratification, is the result of a joint effort by state Sen. Heather Sanborn, D-Portland, of Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland, and Rep. Mattie Daughtry, D-Brunswick, of Moderation Brewing Co. in Brunswick.

Their product is set to be released on Election Day, Nov. 5 — 100 years after Maine voted to ratify the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote — and during Rising Tide’s annual Election Day Pig Roast.

“A modern spin on a British classic” is how Daughtry describes the limited-edition hoppy pale ale whose label and packaging are still a work in progress. Sanborn loves the irony of the fact that many suffragists were, in fact, Prohibition-era teetotalers.

“There’s something ‘If you could see us now’ about it,” Sanborn said as the two waited for Gov. Janet Mills to arrive Tuesday morning to ceremoniously add the hops to the fermenting tank.

The variety is appropriately called Centennial, and Sanborn explained to the governor that it’s mostly grown in the Pacific Northwest.

“If we used purely Maine hops,” she said, “we would use up all the hops grown in Maine in a couple of weeks.”

Sanborn, honored as a Mainebiz Woman to Watch in 2015, founded Rising Tide with husband Nathan Sanborn in 2010.  In addition to her role in the state Senate, she oversees business operations at Rising Tide, while Nathan is director of brewing operations and recipe development.

Daughtry founded Moderation Brewing with Philip Welsh in March 2018.

Mills visited Rising Tide late Tuesday morning after returning from the Arctic Circle Assembly in Iceland, and was clearly relishing her hops-pouring duties after three days of meetings, speeches and plenary sessions.

'Talented lawmakers, innovative brewers'

After playing her role in the production process, the governor praised Sanborn and Daughtry as “incredible businesswomen, talented lawmakers and, as of today, innovative brewers."

She added: “It was a blast to help them brew their new collaboration beer, and I look forward not only to the first pour of Ratification this November, but to the celebration of his important milestone in women’s history.”

Gov. Janet Mills with two Maine brewers who are also state lawmakers.
Photo / Renee Cordes
Mills, Daughtry and Sanborn inspect the hops before the ceremonial pour.

Sanborn said they’re making a 15-barrel batch of Ratification for limited distribution in Maine, and that both she and Daughtry were set against making a product that was too “girly.”

Standing next to her, Daughtry noted: “Beer is a great equalizer.” 

Nathan Sanborn said it took him about an hour to come up with the recipe for Ratification, and that the idea was to focus on the Centennial hops variety with its "great citrus and floral bouquet."

The result? A beer he calls “hop forward but not bitter.”

Flower power, too 

Ratification ale isn't the only planned tribute to the anniversary of women's suffrage.

This fall, a statewide initiative called the Daffodil Tribute aims to create a lasting memorial to suffragists with the yellow flower they adopted as their symbol. 

In Portland, 100 bulbs or more can be ordered from Creative Portland for pickup at 84 Free St. on Nov. 1, during the First Friday Art Walk. Land donations for bulb planting are also welcome.

Bulbs are to be planted in November so that they bloom in May 2020, during the national centennial, and every spring after that. 

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