ORONO, Maine (NEWS CENTER) – From the Maine Malt House in Mapleton to Orono Brewing Company, the beer industry in Maine continues to expand.
The craft beer industry in Maine produced more than $150 million worth of beer in 2016, according to the Maine Brewers’ Guild.
Maine Malt House told NEWS CENTER they have plans to increase their production of malt barley by five times, to better supply local breweries and distilleries.
One of those breweries, Orono Brewing Company, is also moving forward with expansion efforts—recently buying a rundown warehouse in Orono.
"This building will give us multiple cycles of growth but we're not going to do it all at once,” Owner Abe Furth said.
The team said they are strategic with their growth, but admit has happened quickly. Their operation start only two and a half years ago.
"Our original vision was just to supply beer to woodman's and one tasting room and it just took off from there,” Mark Horton said.
In addition to now two tasting rooms in Orono and Bangor, they hope to make the unique space a destination.
"It's been growing like crazy so we feel pretty lucky to be part of that growth,” head brewer Asa Marsh-Sachs said.
Some business experts have discussed concerns over whether or not the industry, made up of more than 90 breweries across the state, is sustainable.
“It’s supply and demand,” Lee Speronis, a business professor at Husson University said. “Are there too many in certain places? I'd say yes, but the successful people are stilling being successful and the people that aren't will go away."
Speronis is optimistic about the future of beer in the state, especially when it comes to tourism. He says much of the industries success has to do with the sense of community.
"I think it works in places like Maine because of our loyalty to community,’ Speronis said.
The OBC team said they are committed to “slow incremental growth” with an emphasis on their customers’ loyalty.
“That's the advice that I've received from leaders in the Maine industry and my thoughts are if you're committed to quality and relationships than growth is just going to happen,” Abe Furth said.
The team proving that with a lot of hard work and a little bit of heart, you can brew up something great.
"I don't know if we expected it to happen this quickly, but we certainly feel very fortunate that it has,” Heather Furth said.
The company still needs town approval before they can move forward with their plans. Furth said they hope to open in about a year.
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