My call for guerrilla taproom ideas last week might already have a winner: a self-contained taproom in a shipping container sent anywhere on the globe to promote an entire region’s beer. Above is the Maine Beer Box — a custom-built, 12-meter long, refrigerated shipping container, complete with 78 beer taps on the side and a fully self-contained, CO2 draft system. It can hold more than 400 kegs and travel anywhere that can be reached by land or sea and host popup beer festivals. The Maine Beer Box serves as the centerpiece of the Maine Global Brewers Trade, allowing Maine craft brewers to send their beer overseas, and then return with craft beer from the collaborating country.
This isn’t a theoretical concept. Maine brewers have just returned from the United Kingdom after taking part in the the four-day Leeds International Beer Festival with the Maine Beer Box taking center stage for more than over 12,000 international beer lovers. The Maine Beer Box was filled with fresh craft beer from 65 breweries and sent aboard a freighter over 3,000 miles to Leeds, England.
“We received an enthusiastic reception in Leeds and enjoyed returning the hospitality. Maine brewers were able to meet people from around the world, hand them a freshly poured pint of Maine beer — and let them get a taste of one of the many reasons we love Maine and want to share our craft with the world,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild. “Our trip to the United Kingdom was a huge success, and we look forward to hosting UK brewers this fall.”
More than an outlet to introduce beer to new markets, the Global Brewers Trade project is a way to forge collaboration between brewers across the globe and give brewers from both countries a change to discover new flavors, techniques and styles.
Also, why waste a return trip with empty kegs? Brewers from across the United Kingdom will load the Maine Beer Box with their own craft beer and ship it back across the North Atlantic to Portland, Maine, where beer from regions across the United Kingdom will be featured at the Guild’s Winter Session Beer Festival on Nov.10, 2018, thereby completing the global brewers trade. It’s an idea so beautiful I got a tear in my eye.
Representatives from 25 Maine breweries traveled with their beer to the United Kingdom to meet with local brewers, share their passion and knowledge for brewing quality beer and invite them to collaborate upon their visit to Maine. The Maine Department of Economic and Community Development contributed toward the cost of brewer scholarships which covered travel to the United Kingdom.
Maine’s North Atlantic Development Office joined Maine Brewers at LIBF, as part of their nine-day trade mission throughout the United Kingdom. Acting Department of Economic and Community Development Commissioner Denise Garland remarked about the trade mission’s experience sharing about Maine and craft beer with LIBF attendees.
“The Maine Beer Box is part goodwill trade mission, part economic development and part marketing of Maine as the top craft beer destination in the United States,” stated Garland. “When we speak to businesses in other countries, the beer box is not only a conversation starter, it’s a testament to the can-do attitude of our people and the innovative business models that thrive in our state. The beer box is attracting more business to Maine.”