Brewers from across the country gathered in Portland, Maine, to learn from a master of the craft at the sold-out inaugural New England Brew Summit, as well as focusing on what they see as the key component of future success — quality.
“The craft brewing industry is only as strong as the worst beer we serve,” commented Dick Cantwell, the Brewers Association’s Quality Ambassador in his morning keynote. “As the industry matures, it’s important that we strive to the highest standards. Consumers can be lazy about revising opinions, so the future of craft beer lies in maintaining a tradition of integrity and a commitment to quality that reflects well on all breweries.”
Cantwell was joined by members of Maine’s congressional delegation who see the industry as an important economic driver in Maine and the Northeast.
“This growth in brewing isn’t just impacting the big cities,” commented Congresswoman Chellie Pingree. “We’re seeing breweries opening in rural areas, repurposing old buildings and barns and supporting another Maine industry — agriculture. I see Maine as the gold standard for quality, and its impact is dramatic.”
“To even have this event five years ago would have been unthinkable,” said Senator Angus King. “Small breweries are winning, and the big guys are noticing. Passion is the real heart of any enterprise, and it’s your commitment that is building the infrastructure to carry the industry forward.”
More than 450 attendees from 13 states included not just brewers and brewery owners but also professionals that work with the industry such as hops growers, maltsters, equipment fabricators, application developers and some of the top professional services firms in the region.
“The gravitas of our participants, particularly Mr. Cantwell, Sen. King and Rep. Pingree, sends an important signal,” noted Maine Brewers’ Guild Executive Director Sean Sullivan. “Their involvement today demonstrates the industry’s importance to the regional economy and recognizes our status as prominent players at the national level. Our industry is a community, and we live in a Golden Age when we can bring together the growing ecosystem of stakeholders to shape a sustainable future for beer in New England.”
The University of Southern Maine also announced that the joint Quality Assurance/Quality Control and Research Laboratory launched in partnership with the Maine Brewers’ Guild in February will open to brewers and students under the name QC2 Lab.
“Today has been a fantastic success. The support we’ve seen for this industry has far exceeded expectations. We’re already looking forward to growing the Summit next year,” Sullivan concluded.