American brewers from the state of Maine have announced that the United Kingdom will be their next partner in their Global Brewers Trade project, and second international destination of the Maine Beer Box.
Carrying forward an international collaborative project launched last year, brewers from across the state will fill the Maine Beer Box with fresh craft beer and send it aboard a freighter ship to Leeds, where Maine breweries will be featured at the seventh annual Leeds International Beer Festival (LIBF) in September.
For decades, American brewers have looked to European and British brewers for inspiration. Now, brewers around the world have their sights set on the New England region as the hotbed of global brewing innovation — and Maine is leading that charge, while also giving its brewers the chance to continue to find new inspiration overseas.
The Maine Beer Box — a custom-built, 12-metre long, refrigerated shipping container, complete with 78 beer taps on the side and a fully self-contained C02 draft system, was was built for exactly this purpose.
After global beer lovers get a taste of Maine beer at the LIBF, 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 in November, thereby completing the global brewers trade.
John Kelly, organiser of the LIBF, said: “We are thrilled that the Maine Brewers’ Guild have chosen Leeds International Beer Festival as the UK destination for the Maine Beer Box.
“With the shared aspiration of promoting and supporting breweries and beer making in our own parts of the world, the Maine Beer Box will be an incredible, and exciting addition to the seventh LIBF. The ffestival is also proud to act as a platform and host this reciprocal initiative.”
Part marketing, part goodwill trade mission, and part economic development initiative, the project involves breweries of all sizes, from each area of Maine. Many of the brewers will travel with their beer to the United Kingdom, where they will meet with local brewers, share their craft and pour beer side-by-side throughout the festival.
Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, said: “The American craft beer industry would not be where it is today without brewers from the United Kingdom. The Maine Beer Box is a unique and prominent symbol of the collaborative spirit of Maine, and American craft brewers. This is an exciting opportunity and homage to our heritage, which showcases how far craft beer has come in Maine in the last few decades.”
Research and training
In fact, the founder of New England’s first microbrewery — David Geary of D L Geary Brewing Co — went directly to the UK for research and training as a brewmaster in 1984, where he was aided by the 14th Lord of Traquair, Peter Maxwell Stuart, a Scottish nobleman and brewer who provided introductions for David to learn the craft from brewers around the UK.
Since then, Maine’s craft beer industry has thrived, and is now recognised as one of the top destinations for craft beer tourists in the US, with a recent study showing it has the third highest number of breweries per capita.
Eimskip and the Maine Brewers’ Guild (MBG) launched this first-of-its-kind project in 2017, trading beer with brewers from Iceland and hosting the largest beer festival in Icelandic history last June. Eimskip, an Icelandic-based shipping company, has its North American headquarters in Portland, Maine, and will be helping MBG ship the Beer Box into its Immingham port.
The Maine Beer Box is believed to be the largest mobile kegerator ever built, and can bring craft beer anywhere in the world, by land or by sea. The initiative is intended to facilitate a global exchange of beer, brewing knowledge, and camaraderie between Maine brewers and brewers from ports across the North Atlantic that are served by Eimskip’s shipping fleet.
• Tickets, news and updates about this year’s Leeds International Beer Festival can be found at www.leedsbeer.com