A couple big-ish pieces of news coming out of the world of Maine brewing that I just have to touch on.
First, the package of beer headed to the White House. When President Obama spoke here in Maine on April 1st, he made a point of mentioning local businessman Bill Milliken as an example of someone whose small business will benefit from tax credits in the new health care reform package. Obama also joked that for mentioning Milliken, owner of Maine Beer and Beverage Company, he’d like a bit of beer to sample in exchange for the publicity.
Well, Milliken took the request to heart, and worked with the Maine Brewers’ Guild and put together a gift basket to show off all of the awesome brews crafted here in Maine. The basket, pictured above, contains enough booty to make any beer geek jealous. Along with some of Maine’s better-known brews like Shipyard Export and Sea Dog Blue Paw, there are some absolute treasures – Allagash Curieux, Maine Beer Spring Peeper, a couple brews from Marshall Wharf and some Beer ME swag – mixed into the basket. A full list of all the beers is available on Shipyard’s Flickr page.
This morning a public send-off was held in Monument Square. The crowd for the event “included a dozen or so representatives from Maine beer companies, Gov. John Baldacci, U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree, Portland Mayor Nicholas Mavadones, and a dozen or so media members, other local business owners, and a couple dozen onlookers.” The basket o’ suds is now en route to Washington DC, and hopefully will find a place in the White House fridge.
Now, I know this is largely a publicity stunt, and I know that for any number of reasons the odds are slim that Obama will sit down with any of these bottles. Still, I’d like to think that some of the great beer brewed here will pass the lips of our President. Any of the brewskis will certainly go down smoother than the Bud Light Barry had during his beer summit last year.
The other big announcement coming out of this weekend is some solid information about Baxter Brewing, the first brewery north of Connecticut to can its entire line of beer. The brewery is the baby of my good pal Luke Livingston, author of Blog About Beer and my companion for more than a few beer releases. I’ve actually been in the know about Baxter for a little while now, and I’m thrilled that I can finally post about the brewing company.
Like craft brewers 21st Amendment, Surly and Oscar Blues, Baxter Brewing will can all of their beers. Livingston has brought on local brewer Michael LaCharite (cofounder of Casco Bay Brewing Company) as brewmaster for Baxter, and expects the brewery’s flagship Stowaway IPA to be available around Labor Day. The brewery is located in the historic Bates Mill in Lewiston, and is operating on a 30-barrel NSI brewing system and automatic canning line from Cask Brewing Systems.
Maine’s brewing scene is already crowded with a number of craft breweries, but there’s obviously room for more if the brewers are making a quality product – newbies Maine Beer Company and Marshall Wharf are proof of this. The fact that Baxter’s beer will be in easily portable, environmentally-friendly cans makes the new brewery even more appealing.
I’ll try and be totally objective when I get around to reviewing Baxter’s brews, I’d like to take a moment now to congratulate my friend for doing what many beer-lovers and homebrewers dream of doing – opening a bona fide craft brewery. I wish Luke the best of luck with Baxter Brewing Company, and look forward to posting more about the brewery as it rockets towards full operation. Of course, I can’t complain about the coming opportunities to taste test the products, either.
Check out Luke’s post on Blog About Beer for all the details about Baxter (and their wicked cool mascot).