Maine Craft Beer Brews up $260M for Maine Economy

Maine’s craft beer industry is growing at a fast pace and added $260,000,000 to the Maine economy in 2017, according to an economic impact report undertaken by the University of Maine and released today by the Maine Brewers’ Guild, the nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and protecting the craft beer industry in Maine.

Once considered a niche industry, Mainers have been opening up breweries at a rapid rate, bringing locally brewed beer into the mainstream and creating hubs of tourism around the state. In 2007, Maine was home to only 14 craft breweries, and today it is home to more than 130 breweries. The number of breweries in Maine more than doubled between 2015 and 2018, far outstripping the national average, according to the study.

The growth has not been restricted to Maine’s urban areas or population centers, with each county in Maine now having at least one craft brewery. While Cumberland County continues to have the most craft breweries in the state with 47 breweries, York and Penobscot counties each have more than 10 breweries within their boundaries. Together, Maine craft brewers directly employ 1,910 people across the state and pay over $54 million in wages.

“We talk about Maine beer like it’s a singular thing, but it’s over 130 business stories wrapped into one novel of economic success,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild. “Anyone who has had the chance to visit a Maine brewery, meet a Maine brewer, or enjoy a Maine beer can take pride in knowing that they are supporting Maine and growing our economy.”

While Mainers have a growing affinity for their local brewers, tourists from across the country are contributing to this growth as they are drawn to Maine to explore the beer scene and culture around craft beer in Maine. According to data collected for the Maine Office of Tourism, nearly nine million tourists visited Maine craft breweries in 2017, meaning one in five tourists visited at least one craft brewery.

“The Maine craft beer scene is creating buzz across the country,” said Don Littlefield, general manager of the Maine Brew Bus, a beer tour operator based in Portland. “According to our data, the Maine Brew Bus had guests from 44 states and 11 countries last year. These people are passionate about their beer and are coming to Maine to explore our great state and great beer.”

According the survey undertaken as part of the economic impact study, the craft beer industry in Maine is projected to continue steady growth, with a 10 percent increase in output by the end of 2019 and 15 percent by the end of 2020. Growth is expected to be driven by small brewery openings and new breweries scaling up production.

“Simply put, more Mainers, and more visitors are choosing to drink locally brewed beer,” said Sullivan. “With the reputation Maine has for food and beer, and the support of incredible bars, restaurants, and entrepreneurs around the state, Maine’s craft beer industry still has room to grow.”

The Maine Brewers’ Guild examines the economic impact of the industry biennially in collaboration with The University of Maine. The last report was released in 2017.

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