FREEPORT– Maine Beer Company has a sign in its new tasting room promising to “Do what’s right” by its employees, customers and the environment.

Wednesday, they took this promise one step further by joining 12 other Maine breweries and the Natural Resources Council of Maine in the Maine Brewshed Alliance, a new initiative to help protect Maine’s clean water.

Maine has some of the cleanest water in the nation from more than 6,000 lakes, 30,000 miles of rivers and streams, and 5,000 miles of coastline. Water from the Sebago Lake Watershed, which provides water to one in six Mainers, only needs to be filtered once. This one-and-done kind of filtration allows breweries, which rely heavily on water as the main ingredient in beer, to keep their prices down, said Jason Perkins, brewmaster for Allagash Brewing Company in Portland.

“We need to protect (this resource) so we can keep drinking and brewing the finest beer that Maine has to offer,” he said.

Clean water though, is not always a guarantee.

“It’s important to recognize the important role” it plays, said Dan Kleban, founder of Maine Beer Company in Freeport. “Once it reaches a tipping point it’s very hard to go back” so they are trying to “get out in front of the problem.”

Kleban, Perkins and the 11 other brewery representatives have committed to help educate customers, support policies and programs that will protect clean water, and help raise both funds and awareness through events like pint nights and other fundraisers, said Kristin Jackson, the Natural Resources Council’s federal outreach coordinator.

Maine brewers understand “a healthy environment and a healthy economy go hand in hand,” she said of Maine’s growing craft brewing industry.

The industry contributed more than $260 million to the state’s economy in 2017 and employed almost 2,000 Mainers, according to an economic impact study by the University of Maine and the Maine Brewers’ Guild.

There are 144 licensed breweries in Maine, appearing in each of the 16 counties, said Sean Sullivan, executive director of Maine Brewers’ Guild. Between 2017 and 2018 alone, 19 new breweries sprouted in the state. The midcoast has Moderation Brewing, Flight Deck and Black Pug, as well as Bath Brewing Co., Maine Beer Co., Sea Dog and Gritty McDuff’s to name a few.

Christie Mahaffey, co-founder of Foundation Brewing in Portland said Wednesday that industry officials are predicting 10 percent growth this year and then another 15 percent in 2020.

Maine’s workforce is rapidly aging, she said, and craft beers and breweries are attracting a younger demographic while also supporting local farms, design firms, food trucks and restaurants among other other businesses.

Jackson hopes that more Maine breweries will join the current members: Allagash Brewing Company, Austin Street Brewery, Bissell Brothers Brewing, Definitive Brewing Company, Foundation Brewing Company, Geary Brewing Co., Goodfire Brewing Company, Maine Beer Company, Orono Brewing Company, Oxbow Brewing Company, Rising Tide Brewing Company, Sebago Brewing Company and Shipyard Brewing Company.

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