As craft breweries grow, so do their communities

Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Craft beer is quickly becoming one of Maine's biggest exports and draws to the state.

According to a study done by economists at the University of Maine, Maine's wild blueberry harvest was worth about $69-million in 2012, and the lobster catch was worth about $340-million.

Right in between the two is the state's craft brewing industry, with an economic impact of nearly $200-million and its only growing.

Craft brewers anticipate a 200% expansion in the next four years.

Baxter Brewing Company kicked off the summer by hosting the first Great Falls Brew Fest. It attracted hundreds of outsiders to Lewiston, and helped promote a number of Maine's breweries, eateries, and artisans. In 2013, Baxter grew by 400%, expanding their facilities in the Bates Mill.

"I think they've sort of rejuvinated a hipness to the downtown," said Cody Lamontagne, co-owner of Lewiston's Forage Market.

Sean Sullivan, the executive director of the Maine Brewers' Guild says brewers can set up shop anywhere and the impacts of that ripple through their community.

The Maine Brewers' Guild teamed up with the university on the study, which looks at Maine's 35 craft breweries in 2013. At the time, the industry employed 1,500 people. Today there are 55 breweries, with 3 more scheduled to open this year.

Allagash Brewing Company has been around for nearly two decades, expanding and sharing their success with the surrounding community; selling products made by local artisans in their retail shop, and using local berries and grain.

In fact, according to the study more than half of Maine's brewers are making efforts to use local ingredients, helping area farms expand their production.


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