Wanna “do what’s right” in the craft beer business?
Three things you gotta know: Location, location, location.
Well ok it takes a bit more than that, but in some cases location spells the difference between a roaring success and the mundane microbrewery. Maine Beer Company in Freeport, Maine just might be the poster child for the importance of location.
Now I’m not saying the emperor has no clothes, nothing like that. Maine Beer Company is a solar powered operation with an excellent working environment, gives back to society, participates in a number of worthy causes, and makes great beer. The thing is that hundreds of new craft brewers are doing the exact same thing — they just happen to be located in the sticks or in some decaying industrial zone or whatever. Maine Beer Company, on the other hand, is on the way to trendy upscale Freeport, where money rides around on greased rails.
For its part the beer is very good. Peeper is a pale ale offering, regularly available, that is just about as perfect as a pale can be. Another One and Lunch and most of the rest of the board have a kind of odd sameness, albeit very clean taste. I get the impression that the malt bill is rather simple, and it lets the hops — which are not overdone — shine just right. This is well made, not at all sloppy and no harshness anywhere. Dinner is the flagship IPA and releases involve long lines at 3:00 AM. Question is, is it that good? Worth the crazy? Not really. Would it have this reputation and buzz with a Farmstead location? I don’t think so.
Anyway it’s definitely worth a stop when you’re in the neighborhood, the beer is terrific and the brewery and staff are wonderful.
As for the rest, it’s a short course in Successful Breweries 101. Looking to get into the biz? Here’s your punch list:
1. Location, location, location. Find a location where people have a lot of expendable money, where they are already prone to spending money.
2. Come up with a pithy slogan that your client base (the people with aforementioned money) will identify with.
3. Make great beer.
Don’t resent Maine Beer Co. for being smart…emulate them. That’s the right thing to do.
Photos: Top, Maine Beer Company brewhouse, August 2016. Below, Corny kegs and ropes ready for a 3:00 AM lineup for the next Dinner release. Means closing the lower parking lot, and having cars parked precariously on Route 1. Not really doing what’s right, just sayin’.