Based in Freeport, ME, and founded in 2009 by David and Daniel Kleban, Maine Beer Company has stood by the philosophy of “Do what’s right.” The brewery has made sustainability and clean energy part of that mission. The owners don’t underestimate the value of good beer and how it can be a tool to bring us together. What started as a barebones operation became a full-time brewing venture.
“From day one, my brother and I knew that we wanted to be a certain kind of company,” David Kleban wrote on the company website. “We wanted to do things right no matter what. We told ourselves that if we couldn’t do things right, then we wouldn’t do them at all.”
Since opening, Maine Beer has been a member of 1% of the Planet. The global environmental nonprofit donates funds to various climate-action firms.
The company donates 1% of the gross annual sales to support animal protection, climate action, equity and inclusion, land preservation, and outdoor access. The company has donated around $2 million total since 2009. It expects to reach $3 million by the end of 2023.
“Recently, we’ve been thinking about how we can consume and how we can be mindful consumers within our environment, how we can give back whenever we can regarding efficiency improvements,” Dave Love, sustainability manager, told The Business Download. “We definitely want to be as transparent as possible in terms of being a leader in sustainability.”
Photo Courtesy Maine Beer Company
Looking at pictures on the company website, you can see the solar panels next to the main entrance. The brewery uses the sun to power its operations. In addition, all spent grain from brews goes to local farmers as cattle feed. Recycling and composting are also a part of the sustainability program.
A Blue Crew develops new projects that support Maine’s partners with volunteer work, green events, and promoting the use of renewable energy. The brewery installed an Earthly Labs carbon dioxide recapture unit to recycle the gas for future batches.
“We have around 768 panels in our array, covering our tasting room as well as our production facility. That’s about to produce anywhere from 45–60% of our energy consumption depending on the weather of that year,” Love said.
While 100% of solar energy at Maine Beer isn’t generated onsite, the brewery works with environmental nonprofits such as Wolfe’s Neck Center for Agriculture & the Environment to set up offsite arrays to offset the remainder. It helps the brewery while helping the nonprofit. The company also partners with Nexamp Community Solar for further clean-energy sourcing.
Maine Beer went from being a “nano-brewery” to a state icon. What started as a 15BBL brewhouse kept growing. The Klebans moved out of Portland to Freeport in 2013. They added a warehouse, a tasting room, and “an actual office.” In 2018, the latest production space opened with a new 60BBL brewhouse. That’s led them to produce an extensive line of beer.
The packaging line has a keg machine that can sanitize, wash, and fill 80 1/6BBL kegs an hour. The bottling line averages 120 bottles per minute. You can find Maine Beer in 32 states and Washington, D.C. It specializes in IPAs but also has a coffee stout, a pilsner, and a porter. The beer names come from experiences and initiatives the brewery is involved in.
“One of our beers is called Little Whaleboat IPA, which actually won a Good Food award recently. We’ve won three years in a row which is an amazing opportunity for us. We’re pretty grateful for it.,” said Kristan Vermeulen, communications manager. “Little Whaleboat is in connection with Maine Coast Heritage Trust. What they do is protect, preserve, and provide accessibility to the many islands along the Maine coast, which is pretty remarkable.”
Little Whaleboat’s proceeds contributed to the continued preservation of the Little Whaleboat Islands.
Photo Courtesy Maine Beer Company
“We support free-for-community services, which goes and supports those in need of food, clothing, just general needs. We support their fundraising events. We also raise donations, particularly for those in need,” Vermeulen continued. “We support various school programs, with a focus on music or focus on youth, but doing so in a way that gives back to the environment and just educating people on that.”
Untappd reports Maine Beer’s brews average a rating of 4.04/5 across its 26 beers. The Dinner IPA is the highest-rated on the Untappd list. Other popular beers include the Lunch IPA, the Second Dinner IPA, and Another One IPA.
The Klebans’ success has been well-documented, opening the door for leadership opportunities. According to Brewbound, Dan Kleban took on positions on the boards of directors with the Maine Brewers’ Guild and the Beverage Association, advocating for New England brewers to take up the fight against climate change and offer fair wages and benefits to employees. He encourages craft breweries to stick with their guns and keep making the beverage Americans love to drink.
“Let’s all remember why people support us: We represent American promise. Let’s not forget that,” he said in a keynote address at the New England Brew Summit. “Let’s all strive in our own unique way to tell our own stories, do the right thing, and make the world a better place through beer. Success will follow.”