It won’t affect the taste, but it’s helping a family-run farm in northern Maine thrive.
For the first time in nearly 25 years, Portland-based Shipyard Brewing Company is using malt from Maine in its flagship Export Ale.
A partnership with Maine Malt House in Mapleton means that about 10 percent of the malt used in this popular beer is grown as barley and malted in Aroostook County.
“The logistics for Maine brewers are tough, any time brewers can get anything local there are benefits,” said brewery spokesman Marty Jones. “This puts local terrior into the beer.”
“We are working to increase our capacity by 500 percent,” said Jacob Buck, Maine Malt House co-founder, in a press release. “This arrangement allows us to quickly put that effort to use.”
Known as the “heart of beer,” malt is as key as hops in giving beer its character.
Shipyard has made small-batch beers with local malts before, but was hard pressed to secure enough germinated barely to commit to using a source from Maine. Until now.
The bulk of malt in Shipyard Export is from the UK and Northern U.S, said Jones, who expects that equation to change as Maine Malt House ramps up. Working with the 25th largest craft brewer in the country “gives us a great deal of legitimacy and credibility and will prove to be very beneficial for our business,” said Buck.
And buying local helps Maine brewers who are logistically handicapped.
“We are at the end of the road here and things have to come a long way to get to us,” Shipyard founder Fred Forsley said in the release. “The more things brewers can get locally, the more efficient we can all be. That support also helps to create more local companies and jobs.”
As the newest batch of Shipyard Export Ale, brewed in early March, makes its way across 40 states, a little taste of Maine comes with it.
“It’s a beer with a lot of history,” said Jones. “Now it’s got a new chapter.”