There’s a lot of conflicting info out there about the number of breweries in Maine, so we wanted to set the record straight. As of April 17, 2018 Maine is home to 117 active, licensed breweries, representing 98 unique brands. (A few breweries hold multiple licenses/ have multiple locations – see below).
Q: How does the Guild count the number of breweries in Maine?
A: We count breweries based on active brewery licenses in Maine. In other words – if a facility is licensed as a brewery by the State of Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO), then we count it. It’s important to note that this means some breweries you may know by name – such as Sea Dog, Sebago, Gritty’s and others – hold multiple brewery licenses.
Q: How has the number of breweries producing beer in Maine changed over time?
A: On July 11, 1986, David L. Geary opened up D.L. Geary Brewing Company in Portland, ME and this was the first new brewery to open east of the Mississippi since the federal prohibition on alcohol production ended. More info is below. This information comes from brewery license data from Maine’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO).
- Between 1851 – 1933, Maine was under Prohibition, and there were no legal breweries in the state.
- 1933-1990: 2 breweries opened (2 active breweries)
- 1990-1994: 10 breweries opened, 1 closed. (11 active breweries)
- 1995-1999: 24 breweries opened, 3 closed. (32 active breweries)
- 2000-2004: 17 breweries opened, 13 closed. (36 active breweries)
- 2005-2009: 14 breweries opened, 15 closed. (35 active breweries)
- 2010-2014: 40 breweries opened, 10 closed. (65 active breweries)
- 2015: 9 breweries opened, 1 closed (73 active breweries)
- 2016: 18 breweries opened, 0 closed (91 active breweries)
- 2017: 16 breweries opened, 1 closed (107 active breweries)
- 2018: 7 breweries opened, 1 closed (117 active breweries through April 2018)
If you’re curious to find a Maine brewery near you or are looking for info on the locations of Maine breweries please visit our Map of Maine Breweries. *Please note, we only show Maine Brewers’ Guild member breweries on this page, so there are a few small brewers that are not on our map (as they are not active members of our organization).
If you want to reach out to a specific Maine brewery, or you’re looking for more info about a Maine brewer such as hours of operation, history, or an address, visit our All Brewers section and click on the brewery’s logo. We also recommend visiting their Facebook pages and messaging them through Facebook or Twitter. We do not have a list of all Maine brewers’ email addresses available for distribution.
Do Maine brewers use local hops and grains/ malt?
Many Maine brewers are making efforts to source locally grown and processed ingredients to brew their beers. As the craft beer industry in Maine has grown, so too have the opportunities in Maine’s agricultural sector. Today, more Maine farmers are growing hops (used for bittering and aroma) and grains (used for flavor ‘backbone’, color, mouthfeel, and body) to supply Maine brewers. Some brewers are brewing beers with all local ingredients, and more brewers are utilizing a portion of local ingredients in every batch of beer. Since 2015, the Maine Brewers’ Guild has hosted the Homegrown Beer Competition at our annual Summer Session Beer Festival – an in-event competition where brewers are required to use local ingredients to brew a beer to share at the event.
The primary ingredient in beer is malted barley, often referred to as ‘malt’. Base malt is generally 2-row barley, and Maine brewers use hundreds of tons of base malt each week. Although Maine’s potato farmers have always planted barley as a rotational crop in their fields, the difference today is that farmers can now sell their barley to fellow Mainers to process the barley. Barley must be processed in a malthouse before brewers are able to utilize it to brew beer, and only the highest-grade barley can be utilized for malting (the rest is sold as animal feed). In recent years, two malt houses have opened in Maine; one in Mapleton (Maine Malt House) and in Lisbon Falls (Blue Ox Malthouse). Maine brewers also make use of other locally grown and processed grains, including wheat, oats, and rye.
Although Maine was once one of the biggest hop-growing regions in the United States (prior to prohibition), Maine still only produces a small amount of the overall hops utilized by Maine brewers (less than 1%). Maine hop growers are active in a variety of areas around the state and are actively working with federal, state, and local government, organizations, and nonprofits to identify the best strains of hops to grow and the best ways to mitigate pests and diseases. Additionally, as fresh hops have a short shelf-life after they are harvested (usually around September in Maine), and so most of the hops grown in Maine are used in beers around this time of year (often referred to as ‘wet hop’ beers or ‘harvest’ beers). At other times of the year, Maine brewers are using pelletized hops, both from Maine and (more often) from hop growers in the Pacific Northwest of the US, Germany, and New Zealand. Some of Maine’s biggest hop yards include The Hop Yard (Gorham) and Aroostook Hops (Westfield).
The Maine Brewers’ Guild is committed to proactively connecting Maine’s hop growers, farmers, and maltsters to one another and the nonprofit organizations and government officials who will ensure Maine brewers have access to the best, local ingredients while maximizing the economic impact of the craft beer industry across our state.