Nearly 25 years after creating it, Shipyard Brewing Co. is making a homegrown adjustment to its very first beer. Shipyard’s Export Ale is now brewed with an addition of locally grown malted barley from Maine Malt House.
“Export is a beer that stands for Maine and our state’s nautical heritage,” said Bruce Forsley, Shipyard’s vice president of sales and marketing. “The beer’s fans are largely New Englanders who love the beer’s malt-forward balance, subtle dryness and supreme drinkability. We think these beer lovers will appreciate the locally grown malt in the beer, and using it allows us to boost our longstanding efforts to support Maine farmers and New England entrepreneurs.”
Maine Malt House is the malting arm of the third-generation, family-run Buck Farms in Mapleton, Maine. The company grows its Mapleton Pale two-row barley on a quarter of its 1,000 acres and malts the barley by hand in floor-malt fashion.
“We’re excited to be working with a larger and well-established brewery like Shipyard,” said Jacob Buck, Maine Malt House co-founder. “It gives us a great deal of legitimacy and credibility and will prove to be very beneficial for our business.”
Shipyard has used the company’s malts for small-batch beers in the past. “We‘ve been wanting to use Jacob’s malts in one of our packaged beers,” said Shipyard Founder Fred Forsley. “But we weren’t sure if he could provide us with enough malt to do that.”
Buck says Maine Malt House is in the midst of an expansion that allows his family’s company to seize the opportunity with Shipyard. “We are working to increase our capacity by 500 percent, and this arrangement allows us to quickly put that effort to use,” Buck said.
This year, Shipyard expects to buy about 30,000 lbs of the company’s malt. About 25 other local breweries use the malt in their beers, too.
Such locally produced beer ingredients are an asset to Shipyard and its craft beer peers.
“Logistically, Maine brewers are handicapped,” Fred Forsley said. “We’re at the end of the road here and things have to come a long way to get to us. We support companies like Maine Malt House because the more things brewers can get locally, the more efficient we can all be. That support also helps to create more local companies and jobs.”
Export Ale was the first beer produced at Federal Jack’s Restaurant & Brew Pub, which opened in Kennebunk, Maine, in June of 1992. The brewpub was founded by Fred Forsley and brewer Alan Pugsley; the pair opened Shipyard Brewing in Portland, Maine, in 1994 with Export as that brewery’s flagship.
“We’re very proud of Export,” Fred Forsley said. “It was a rule-breaking beer when we launched it. Now its place in craft beer has changed from an assertive trailblazer to a sessionable go-to beer with character and flavor. By adding this local malt to the beer we’re giving Export a nice update and adding a new chapter to its history.”
The brewery produced 116,000 barrels of beer in 2016. The brewery produces over 25 varieties of packaged beer and has allied brewpubs, breweries and taprooms in New England and Florida.
Marty Jones is longtime evangelist, publicist and status quo smasher for craft beer. His creative ideas, promo efforts and questionable jokes have played a key role in the success of some of the top beer endeavors in Colorado and the United States. Follow him on Twitter @martyjonesinc.