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Tim Bissell Tim Bissell
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Three Pint Stance - What a brewer is thankful for

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I know what you're probably thinking - 'Another Thanksgiving themed column?! Tim is really milking this holiday for content.'

You are correct. I amand I apologize to no one.

Thanksgiving is really the best holiday of them all. It has food, family, football and none of the hassle of gift-giving and wearing ugly sweaters. Also, it is a great time to look back and be thankful for the things that make your life great and filled with purpose, joy and all that stuff. It is with that in mind that I share with you my list of what a brewer is thankful for.

Brewer's yeast - This is on the top of the list for a reason. All of the hard work, cleaning, packaging, sales and promotion in the world would be completely useless if yeast didn't exist to ferment the beer. Brewers don't actually make beer - they make yeast food. It is only after the yeast have done their thing that the sugary wort produced by brewers is transformed to beer. So, we say thanks to you, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae (ale yeast), Saccharomyces Pastorianus (lager yeast) and the many other wild yeasts and bacterium that contribute to the myriad flavors possible in beer.

CIP systems and floor drains - CIP (Clean in Place) is a system that uses pumps and sprayers to clean fermentation vessels without having to get inside and manually scrub the remnants of a ferment off the vessel walls. While there is plenty of cleaning to do in the brewery, having CIP systems in effect helps make a tedious job just a little bit easier. To that effect, having a working and capable floor drain is a wondrous thing as well. Lots of water, beer and cleaning solutions (that aren't recaptured) have to be discarded and not having a floor drain to take care of that would just be miserable. When I sweep liquid into our floor drain, I remember back to my home brewing days and the multiple times I flooded the kitchen floor, and I just smile. It's the simple things, right?

Maine's laws and regulations for small breweries - Most of the time, when a businessperson mentions laws and regulations, it is in the form of a complaint. Well, you won't hear that from me. Sure, there are a bunch of things I would like to see changed or tweaked when it comes to Maine's regulatory climate surrounding beer and alcohol, but looking around the country, I am very pleased with where Maine is and where we are headed in terms of beer regulation.

The Maine Brewer's Guild, the trade group for Maine's craft brewers, has grown tremendously in membership over the past five years and gets stronger each year. This gives us brewers a stronger voice in the Maine Legislature, which is a body that has already shown willingness to work with the brewers of Maine. Maine allows breweries to operate tasting rooms, sell samples, self-distribute their product and fill growlers - all things that are either not allowed at all or much more tightly-regulated in other states. So, thanks Maine!

The ever-expanding American beer palate - This one is a bit esoteric, but go with me on it. After the yeast, there is another very important factor at play as to whether or not a brewer gets to continue to do what he/she does. Simply put, you have to have people to drink the beer. Without a market for your product, you don't have a business.

Since craft beer began its ascent decades ago, beer drinkers of all ages and persuasions have become more open to new styles of beer, new flavors and different packaging options. As brewers continue to push the envelope as to what flavors are possible with beer, curious drinkers are more than happy to go along on that journey. It is this willingness to branch out, try new things and - most importantly - support local and quality products over just buying for price that have allowed the brewing industry to flourish around the United States and here in Maine especially.

So, finally, thank you all for drinking beer, learning about beer, talking about beer, sharing beer and being supportive of the local beer industry. Customers are the life-blood of our industry, and happy customers are the ultimate reward for those of us that make the cold suds.

So we raise a glass to you, thirsty beer drinkers and simply say thanks!


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