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Three Pint Stance - A year (and a month) in review

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Time flies when you aren't paying attention.

Last year, on April 13, The Three Pint Stance made its debut on these here pages. Since then, lots of beer has been brewed, packaged and consumed in Maine. Over 15 new breweries have opened their doors and fired up their kettles since this column first began, and it looks like 2017 will bring more of the same. Maine’s beer scene continues to grow larger and stronger, and I couldn’t be happier to bring you news of this exciting industry every week.

Being a small brewery owner myself, I sometimes find that I am so close to the industry that it can be hard to step back and see the big picture of what the industry is bringing to our state. Not only are thousands of gallons of world-class beer being produced in nearly every corner of this state, but jobs are being created in the brewery and connected agriculture, food, beverage, and tourism sectors as well.

Maine is not only a great place to brew beer, but more and more farmers are discovering that Maine is uniquely positioned to not only provide great beer, but high-quality, sustainably-grown ingredients for making that beer. While many malt and hop producers in the state are still in their early startup phases, new locally-made brewing ingredients are being made available every day it seems. Breweries large and small are now creating beers made exclusively from Maine-made ingredients (ex: Blank Canvas’ Maine Made Pale Ale and Allagash’s Sixteen Counties).

Beyond producing ingredients, Maine farmers are finding that all this beer being made creates a wonderfully symbiotic byproduct called spent grain. Essentially, when you make beer, you soak malted barley (and other grains) in hot water to extract the sugar. This leaves behind a protein-rich animal feed product that many brewers are happy to give away for free to local farms. The saying “Every brewer needs a farmer” is certainly more true than I ever could have imagined before I started brewing commercially.

Beyond farms, Maine is seeing large increases in the number of tourists who come to Maine just to try our beer!

Not only are people setting off on their own adventures using the Maine Brewer’s Guild’s Maine Beer Trail Map (mainebrewersguild.org/maine-beer-trail/), but many are opting to take a ride on one of our local brewery tour busses (The Maine Brew Bus in Southern Maine and the Growler Bus in the Bangor area). These tours are great in that they not only provide steady business to area breweries, but the curated tour helps to further draw connections between Maine’s breweries and the communities of which they are a part.

One other secondary benefit of so many breweries popping up around Maine is the revitalization of so many previously unused or underused industrial buildings. From restored textile mills (Baxter Brewing in Lewiston, Banded Horn and Dirigo in Biddeford) to former railyard repair facilities (Bissell Brothers in Portland), old rundown buildings are seeing new life.

Local beer in Maine looks like it is here to stay - and that is a good thing. It’s a good thing not only for the many beer fanatics in Maine and the surrounding area, but also for anyone who is rooting for a strong, independent Maine economy.

I’m pretty sure we can all raise a glass to that!

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