By Chris Sweet
The Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverage and Lottery Operations has released the 2016 output numbers for Maine's beer makers. Shipyard Brewing Co. is still brewing the most beer in the state, but other breweries are gaining ground. The perennial number two Maine brewer by output is Allagash Brewing Co. and its annual output has continued to grow while Shipyard's output has dropped each of the previous three years when Shipyard produced more than 170,000 barrels in 2013. Shipyard's output is down to 121,580 barrels in 2016, a drop of more than 120%. Allagash's output grew by 10% in 2016 over 2015. Baxter Brewing Co. retains the number three spot in 2016 despite dropping its overall output by more than eleven percent. Peak Organic Brewing Co. also brewed fewer barrels in 2016 vs. 2015 but, like Baxter it held the same overall ranking in 2016 that it had in 2015...number four. Sebago Brewing Co. also stayed put among the rankings at number five, but Sebago's output is trending up, increasing its number of barrels produced in 2016 by more than 27%. D.L. Geary Brewing Co. also retained its ranking, number six, compared to 2015 however Geary's year-over-year output continues to drop the most among Maine's biggest breweries. The same could be said of Gritty McDuff's Brewing Co. output which is the number seven brewery for the second year in a row. Gritty’s brewed fewer barrels each of the previous five years. The bottom half of the top 15 breweries by output are nearly all trending upward. Geaghan Brothers Brewing Co. at number eight increased output by more than 87% in 2016. Maine Beer Co. at nine increased its total output by more than 47%. Bissell Brothers Brewing Co. at number 10 upped its output by more than 67%. Rising Tide Brewing Co. at number 11 showed a double-digit percentage increase while number 12 Atlantic Brewing Co. brewed almost the same number of barrels in 2016 as it did in 2015. Foundation Brewing Co. is 13 and it increased output by more than 77%. Funky Bow Brewing Co. at 14 increased more than 16% and number 15 is Banded Horn Brewing Co. which grew by 62% over 2015.
A big part of that increase in output for Bissell is due to the increased capacity created when it moved to Thompson's Point in Portland. The Bissell taproom has become quite the tourist destination as have the other taprooms around Portland. The increase in brewery foot traffic has led to a policy change here as well as at Rising Tide in East Bayside. Both have banned dogs inside the taprooms in anticipation of the summer bump in traffic. Both breweries made it clear their fondness for Fido has not changed, it's the concern for health, safety and legal issues prompting these policy changes.
And speaking of Thompson's Point, the event that launched this location as a beer destination in 2014, Sierra Nevada's Beer Camp is returned with its eight city Beer Camp on Tour June 3. The next closest stop on this tour is Philly so expect to see plenty of breweries from around New England and New York pouring at this festival. Like last time, Sierra Nevada is releasing a variety 12-pack of collaboration beers. Allagash was one of these beers in 2014 but Tree House Brewing Co. in Monson, MA is the only northeast brewery to be featured in the bottle/can mix release. This time around the 12-pack features just as many international breweries as American, six each.