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Carla Jean Companion

Carla Companion is a craft beer lover and investigator of all things beer. She started a craft beer website and blog thebeerbabe.com in 2007, sharing her thoughts as she explored what was new in beer, as well as brewery visits, trips and "beer adventures." Moving to Portland in 2009, she found herself surrounded by the Maine beer community and has been exploring it ever since. In her blog, Carla profiles craft beer (and some mead and cider, too) being brewed in Maine, as well as looks into the people, places and stories behind the beer that makes the community so vibrant. Join Carla on her beer adventures and advice on where to get the best, newest, and most interesting fermented drinks around. Carla can be contacted at askthebeerbabe [at] gmail.com or on twitter at @beerbabe. Subscribe: RSS Feed for The Beer Babe

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Things to do This week





Posted: May 14, 2014

New Breweries Driving Maine Beer Growth

Written by: Carla Jean Companion - contributor - carlajean@gmail.com
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This week is American Craft Beer Week (ACBW, for short) which is a week organized by the Brewers Association to celebrate all things craft beer in the United States. There are events organized throughout the week everywhere in the country, and it is hard to find tweets that don’t bear the hashtag #ACBW this week.

I usually use this time of year as an arbitrary opportunity to examine where we stand in the craft beer world. It is nice to have some perspective on the size and the magnitude of the craft brewing movement in the U.S., as well as Maine, so that we can reflect on the past and the future of the industry. As of right now, craft beer is continuing to grow in the U.S., and is starting to show some very impressive numbers.

Craft Beer By The Numbers (All U.S.)

  • 2,822 total breweries operated for some or all of 2013, the highest total since the 1870s.
  • Craft brewers currently provide an estimated 110,273 jobs in the U.S., including serving staff in brewpubs.
  • Growth of the craft brewing industry in 2013 was 18% by volume and 20% by dollars compared to growth in 2012 of 15% by volume and 17% by dollars.
  • Craft brewers sold an estimated 15.6 million barrels* of beer in 2013, up from 13.2 million in 2012.
  • The craft brewing sales share in 2013 was 7.8% by volume and 14.3% by dollars.
  • As of March 17, 2014, the Brewers Association is aware of 413 brewery openings in 2013 (304 microbreweries and 109 brewpubs) and 44 brewery closings (20 microbreweries and 24 brewpubs).

Maine Gains Momentum

In Maine we are fortunate to have 53* breweries operating – with 17 having opened since the beginning of 2013. Here’s the list of the new kids, in case you’ve missed a few:
  • Banded Horn Brewery (Biddeford)
  • Bissell Brothers (Portland)
  • Hidden Cove Brewing Company, formerly Captain Dick’s (Wells)
  • Friar’s Brewhouse (Bucksport)
  • Funky Bow Brewery & Beer Company (Lyman)
  • Gneiss Brewing Company (Limerick)
  • In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation (Portland)
  • Monhegan Brewing (Monhegan Island)
  • Pennessewassee Brewing (Harrison)
  • Rock Harbor Brewing (Rockland)
  • Rocky Coast Brewing  at Post Road Tavern (Ogonquit)
  • SoMe Brewing Company (York)
  • Strong Brewing (Sedgewick)
  • Foundation Brewing (Portland)
  • Bigelow Brewing Company (Skowhegan)
  • Lively Brewing / Ebenezer’s Brewpub (Brunswick)
  • Austin Street Brewery (Portland)
That’s nearly a third of the state’s breweries currently open that have been operating for less than two years – which is much higher than the national numbers, where 15% of the breweries currently operating were opened in the last year. In addition, there are at least 15 “in planning” which may open in the next year or so. What that indicates to me is that Maine is catching up to the explosive growth that’s been happening out west, and is continuing to have room to grow.
But more thoughts on that next time.

*Footnote: The number of breweries in a state is harder to count than you might think. My method includes counting any facility where beer is actually brewed – so a brewpub counts – as one location. Multiple locations served by the same beer source (i.e., Sea Dog) are only counted once. 

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