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Craft Beer in Maine – By The Numbers

Business of BeerDon Littlefield

Why do so many people come to Maine, and specifically Greater Portland, just to drink craft beer? Let’s take a closer look at craft beer in Maine, the economic impact to our state, and how it translates to our tours and partners.

 

State of Maine

Information from the Maine Office of Tourism showed that in 2016, overall visitation into the State of Maine grew to 35.8 million people, up 6% from 2015. The early indicators for 2017 show another strong summer for Maine tourism, so we can expect those numbers to climb.

In surveying leisure visitors to Maine, the Maine Office of Tourism found that 46% of guests reported that touring/sightseeing and food/beverage/culinary activities ranked highest when they were deciding to visit Maine. They also learned that over one-third of overnight visitors to Maine report that going to local brewpubs or craft breweries was a major interest area for their Maine trip.

Check out The Maine Thing Quarterly all about craft beer in our state.

Now let’s take a look at those numbers broken down for our region.

Greater Portland

According to Visit Portland, there were 5.5 million visitors to the Greater Portland region in 2016. It is interesting to note that they found that 96% were repeat visitors to Maine.

Using averages determined by statewide research, 2.5 million visitors are also looking for touring/sightseeing and food/beverage/culinary activities. And close to 2 million people visit local brewpubs or craft breweries while visiting Greater Portland. 

This recent article in the Boston Herald was arranged by Visit Portland to highlight the craft beer scene in Greater Portland.

So a lot of people come to Maine, and more and more they are seeking 0ut opportunities to drink our amazing craft beer. So what is the actual impact of craft beer to Maine’s economy?

Economic Impact to Maine

According to data recently released by the Brewers Association, Maine has 7.6 breweries per 100,000 21+ Adults. That means we are ranked 5th in the nation for most breweries per capita.

In case you are wondering, our neighbors in Vermont are #1 with 10.8 breweries per 100,000 21+ Adults. 

Based on surveys conducted by the Maine Brewers’ Guild, Maine breweries added a total of $228 million to Maine’s economy last year and employed more than 1,600 workers. The estimated total revenue of Maine brewers was more than $150 million in 2016, a 17 percent increase from 2013, according to the report.

There is another way to look at economic impact, however.

The Brewers Association released a report on September 26, 2017 that examined the output of the craft beer industry by state, as well as the state economic contribution per capita for adults over 21. 

Maine ranked in the Top 10, and 62% higher than the National Average on Economic Impact per 21+ Adult.

Then they looked at total economic impact and added in labor income for the entire year.

State Employment (Full Time Equivalents) Labor Income Avg. Wage Economic Impact Impact/ 21+ Adult
Maine 4,080 $157,183,000 $38,529 $475,997,000 $471.45

Brewers Association – Maine Craft Beer Sales Statistics, 2016

So millions of people are coming to Maine, our state is opening breweries at the rate of one a month that are creating more jobs, and overall this represents nearly a half of a billion dollars to the state economy.

By comparison, wild Maine blueberries are valued at only $28 million last year. Maine is well known for its potato harvest, which was valued at $174 million dollars in 2016.

The estimates for 2016 show that Maine fisherman caught more than 130 million pounds of lobster valued at $533.1 million.

So the overall economic value of Maine beer to the state economy is between that of potatoes and lobster.

What does this mean for us on the bus?

The Maine Brew Bus

5,300 guests took a tour on The Maine Brew Bus during 2016, and through October 8th over 5,700 have taken a tour this calendar year. 2017 is expected to close with 7,000 guests taking tours, an increase of over 25% compared to 2016.

Over 75% of tour guests reside outside the State of Maine, so significant additional revenue to hotels, restaurants, and retail stores is certainly generated by overnight stays in the area.

We ask for an answer as to place of residence when people book a tour with us. So we at least have a piece of the information from the person who books, but if they are booking a private tour for a group we are not able to capture the location information from all of their guests.

So based on what we can get for location information, this heatmap for the United States shows where the booking guests are coming from so far this year. The darker greens are higher concentration of guests, with all but seven states in the country represented.

Massachusetts is the most reported state, with 464 people reporting that they reside in the Bay State. The rest of the Top 10 states goes like this:

2 Maine 444
3 New York 145
4 New Hampshire 139
5 Connecticut 109
6 New Jersey 82
7 Pennsylvania 45
8 Rhode Island 42
9 California 29
10 Ohio 29

In addition to this U.S. breakdown, we have had 22 visitors from Canada, 22 from Europe, 2 from Asia, 1 each from Africa and South America.

Last year we were curious about the totals, so we produced an infographic from June 2015 through May of 2016 to show what was happening with our tours and guests.

This year we have a better method of tracking this vital information.

Each tour guest represents approximately $20.00 in payments made by The Maine Brew Bus directly to locally owned breweries, wineries, distilleries, bakeries, and restaurants. 

Based on 7,000 guests, an estimated $140,000 in income for these locally-owned companies will be generated by tour from The Maine Brew Bus this calendar year.

In addition, each guest makes purchases of merchandise and additional alcohol that we track as best we can. We have determined that this averages to be $10.00 per person per tour. 

An estimated $70,000 in additional revenue paid directly to our partners this calendar year is being generated by guests taking tours on The Maine Brew Bus.

Many Maine companies also make their products available outside the state, so a definite (but hard to calculate) long-term sales benefit is gained by brand awareness and recognition by our guests after taking a tour.

Conclusion

  • Millions of people are coming to Maine and to Greater Portland for many reasons. but more and more they are coming here to become a part of our craft beer scene.
  • These guests are finding their way to nearly 100 brewery tasting rooms and brewpubs all over the state, and this activity is providing significant jobs and income for thousands of Maine residents.
  • A new brewery opens on average every month in the state, and this clearly advances the economic value of craft beer to the overall state economy.
  • More guests than ever have taken tours on The Maine Brew Bus, and this is helping provide over $200,000 in revenue to our locally-owned breweries, wineries, distilleries, restaurants, and bakeries.
  • Exposure to these businesses by our mostly out-of-state guests helps our producers if and when they are ready to sell outside the State of Maine.

We look forward to continuing this journey forward, telling the stories to our increasing number guests about the incredible producers of craft alcohol in Maine.

Cheers!


Don Littlefield is the General Manager of The Maine Brew Bus and of the Boston-based Mass Brew Bus. He enjoyed a Fore River Brewing Company Spring Point Belgian Wit while preparing this story. Twitter: @BeerinME