This article was first posted on the Natural Resources Council of Main’s (NRCM’s) website right here.
Last week, at a news conference in Maine Beer Co.’s new tasting room, representatives from 13 of the state’s top craft breweries joined together to launch the Maine Brewshed Alliance — a coalition of Maine brewers committed to helping protect clean water in the state’s rivers, lakes, streams and ocean.
In partnership with Maine’s leading environmental advocacy group, the Natural Resources Council of Maine, Maine Brewshed Alliance members pledge to educate their customers and the public about the critical role clean water plays in the production of great beer, and to support policies and programs that protect the waters of Maine that are vital for the state’s economy, recreation and quality of life.
“Clean water is one of Maine’s most important natural resources, and it’s one of the most important reasons why Maine is home to so much great beer,” said Maine Beer Co. Founder Dan Kleban. “None of us standing here today takes our clean water for granted. We all have a role to play, and today, I am proud to help announce that Maine brewers are stepping up to the plate and saying: ‘We’re in!’ We are committed to helping protect the watersheds that are cherished by all of us who live, work and play in Maine.”
As of today, the Maine Brewshed Alliance consists of 13 companies, but the goal is to include as many of Maine’s more than 100 craft brewery brands as possible. The founding members are:
- Allagash Brewing Co.
- Austin Street Brewery
- Bissell Brothers Brewing
- Definitive Brewing Co.
- Foundation Brewing Co.
- Geary Brewing Co.,
- Goodfire Brewing Co.
- Maine Beer Co.
- Orono Brewing Co.
- Oxbow Brewing Co.
- Rising Tide Brewing Co.
- Sebago Brewing Co.
- Shipyard Brewing Co.
“The clean water that Maine provides to its breweries is critical to the quality and reputation of the craft beer we produce,” said Christie Mahaffey, cofounder of Foundation Brewing Co. “Maine craft breweries are fueling economic growth across multiple sectors of employment in Maine, including equipment and infrastructure, manufacturing and engineering, farming, dining, and tourism. We are committed to protecting the clean water that is vital to the current and future economic growth developing around Maine’s craft brewing industry.”
Maine is unique because it has clean drinking water sources that are not readily available in many parts of the country. The average beer is more than 90 percent water, and the characteristics of Maine’s sources of drinking water — such as pH, mineral content, and purity – are central to the quality of beer that is enjoyed by many millions of residents and visitors.
“We’re lucky to have outstanding water quality in Maine,” said Jason Perkins of Allagash Brewing Co. “We want to make sure that’s not taken for granted. Whether or not you drink our beer, every Mainer benefits from clean water and strong environmental protections.”
For example, the water used to brew beers in the Portland region comes from the Sebago Lake watershed, which also serves as the drinking water supply for one in six Mainers. Sebago Lake is renowned for its pristine quality, and is one of only six municipal reservoirs in the country that does not need filtration or treatment before becoming drinking water.
“We have come a long way in protecting the waters of Maine, but climate change, nutrient pollution, and toxic chemicals are posing serious threats to this progress,” said Kristin Jackson, federal project outreach coordinator, Natural Resources Council of Maine. “Maine’s craft brewers understand that a healthy environment and healthy economy go hand in hand, and we’re excited to be working with them to help more people understand what they can do to protect clean water for all to enjoy.”
The Maine Brewshed Alliance will kick off its education activities with a series of special events in April around Earth Day, including a special beer release by two of the participating breweries. A full calendar of events will be posted on https://www.mainebrewshedalliance.org/.
“Our dependence on Maine’s clean water extends far beyond its primary and incredibly important role in the beers we produce, but is also a number one resource we all rely on in our day to day,” said Hester Bissell of Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. “This industry has a lot of strength, we need to use that to uphold and encourage what’s best for our beautiful state and its natural resources. We all need to be a voice for clean water.”
“Water is critically important to both our quality of beer and quality of life. Here in Maine we enjoy the lakes, rivers, streams, and ocean as places that provide great outdoor adventures,” said Abe Furth of Orono Brewing Co. “By protecting Maine’s water we’re not just ensuring our ability to keep making great beer, we’re also giving future generations the chance to enjoy Maine waterways as much as we have! Orono Brewing Company is excited for the opportunity to join the Maine Brewshed Alliance and to work together to protect Maine’s natural resources.”
“Clean water is the lifeblood of our business. But it’s not just about us,” said Nathan Sanborn, co-owner and director of brewing operations at Rising Tide Brewing Co. “As major industrial water users, it’s part of our responsibility to steward this resource for everyone and ensure that our children and our children’s children continue to have access to safe, clean, high-quality water.”
According to an economic impact study by the University of Maine and Maine Brewers Guild, the craft beer industry contributed more than $260 million to Maine’s economy in 2017, with more than 1,900 direct employees who received $54 million in total wages, and another 650 indirect jobs.
Colin Durrant is the director of media relations and advocacy Communications at NRCM.