How Rising Tide is Boosting its Support for Maine Island Trails

A long-standing relationship that’s been very stable is about to get even deeper as Rising Tide announced recently that it will move its seasonal Session IPA, Maine Island Trail Ale (MITA) into year-round production.

MITA is brewed to support and celebrate the Maine Island Trail Association’s stewardship of Maine’s wild islands, with a portion of the proceeds going to support the nonprofit.

“We roughly give the same amount of money every year or a little bit more as the beer grows and so that’s been really fantastic to see,” said Director of Business Operations and Co-Owner at Rising Tide, Heather Sanborn. “They can count on us and it’s not just a one-off that we’re doing to hit social media once. This is a long-term partnership and we’re really excited to celebrate next April the 10th anniversary.”

At 4.3% ABV, MITA was an early entry into the steadily growing Session IPA market. In fact, it wasn’t even promoted as an IPA to start when it launched ​in 2013.​

​”The way we talk about it has definitely developed over time,” she said. “I think the concept of a Session IPA didn’t really exist in 2012 in the same way. Certainly, the concept of session beers did exist, but then we had to kind of call it a Session Pale Ale. I think it’s been a Session IPA probably for the last five or six years.

“But I think we’ve gotten to the place as beer drinkers where IPA kind of stands for something a little bit different in people’s minds and it’s more about the hop profile and malt/hop balance rather than the ABV.​”

The Rising Tide team made the decision a few months ago and started really thinking about changing and allowing MITA to be year-round. One prompt was the brewery would hear and see online that people would purchase the beer in the summer and savor it through the winter.

“We knew people were stockpiling it,” she said. “We’d hear from lots of people who just had a MITA out of their fridge in January. We always kind of cringe a little bit and think … Okay, you know we make lots of other beers that you could be drinking fresh right now.

“So this change is definitely because of concern for quality and freshness. At the bottom of it, I think we’re also seeing a trend toward more people wanting to drink lower ABV beer. And we already make a fantastic one that’s super popular that everybody loves to drink, so why not let them drink it year round and fresh.”

Rising Tide didn’t have something that was a winter replacement for MITA and Sanborn said they talked about that a lot over time.

“What’s the flip side of this? I think we realized maybe the winter MITA is MITA,” she said. “I think that’s where it really is in our book for us. And we’re really excited to be able to offer that consistency.”

That was a big piece of that​ Sanborn and the Rising Tide team figured was a reason to make batches past August and into the winter as well.

“​A​ ​Session IPA was a direction that people really wanted to go with their purchasing decisions in the wintertime, as well as in the summer​,” she explained “So it made a lot of sense, in terms of where it fit​s​ in what we wanted to offer year-round in our portfolio. ​Rather than trying to invent something new, we wanted to just change the place of MITA in our offerings. And then it also allows us to continue and extend our relationship with the Maine Island Trail Association, which has been a bedrock of what we’ve been doing over the last almost 10 years now.​”

MITA was cutting edge a few times for the brewery — first as a mainstay philanthropic endeavor, which is common now for many breweries — along with being the first 16-ounce can 4-pack the brewery released as well.

“We thought it was a great format for what the beer is all about, which is adventure, taking it with you — at that time — for your summer adventures, but now your winter ones as well,” she said.

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