Maine Beer Company’s co-owner Dan Kleban explained that the first keg of beer he ever brewed was stuffed in a trash can full of ice and sold “picnic style” in his favorite pub. Since that first keg of trash can beer, Dan’s hobby of homebrewing has manifested into one of the most revered breweries in the northeast.
According to BeerAdvocate, the brewery produces two world class beers: Lunch and Dinner. Dan and his brother David celebrate the success of their beers with philanthropy and a tradition of environmental responsibility.
In talking with Dan, it’s clear that there is a great degree of emphasis on doing things the right way. With a quick visit to their website, you’ll find a laundry list of the charitable causes the brewery contributes to. MBC is a participating member of 1% for the Planet. It’s exactly what it sounds like; MBC pledges one percent of its revenues to causes that help to protect and restore the planet.
They don’t mind taking matters into their own hands either. The Freeport Brewery uses solar power among other green practices to help reduce its carbon footprint.
However, the act of giving isn’t necessarily a product of the brewery’s great success – it's a foundational aspect of their enterprise.
In fact, the name of their famous IPA, Lunch, stems directly from their giving nature. According to Kleban, after making a donation to a marine mammal research laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine, the brewery was informed that with its donation, it had adopted a whale. That whale, missing a chunk of his dorsal fin as if it had been chewed on, was appropriately named Lunch. The rest is hoppy, amber colored history.
Like the one found on their Lunch IPA, their simplistic white labels tell the story of their philosophy. Dan says, “We like to keep things simple. We like to focus on the quality of the beer.” Rather than investing in marketing, advertising, and intricate eye-catching labels, Kleban says his company’s focus is on producing a quality product and letting the beer sell itself.
It’s definitely working. The brewery produces its ultra-rare double IPA, Dinner, only four times annually, naturally creating massive demand. The most recent method of distributing Dinner requires patrons to purchase a ticket to secure a share of the beer, up to one case at a specific date and time. That means you must be present (or have a good friend) in Freeport, Maine in order to acquire the elusive beverage. Addressing the huge demand stemming from the scarcity of Dinner, Kleban said, “That was never our goal and that’s not an intentional marketing ploy by us.”
Some of the scarcity of Dinner stems from Maine's brewing capacity, at which it is currently operating. An expansion beginning in 2017 will increase maximum production slightly but will largely take aim at further improving quality, as well as patron and employee satisfaction. In the spirit of craft brewing, Kleban says the new facility and equipment will better allow them to focus on “producing better, more consistent beer.”
Even with an updated facility, though, the brewery couldn’t improve without their committed staff. Kleban called the MBC staff’s current workspace “limited at best." The company’s website demonstrates their level of dedication to happy employees, so it’s no surprise that a significant aspect of this expansion is aimed at providing employees with “a comfortable and collaborative work environment.” Maine Beer Company’s employees are afforded a generous compensation package, according to the website, and soon will have a much larger workspace.
Of course, since they served their first beer from a garbage receptacle, it might have been hard to imagine ascending to such a level of success and requiring so many employees. The new layout, however, will be designed with the previously unforeseen large staff in mind.
Maine Beer Company’s commitment to responsibility should make its customers and employees proud, as it is a strong reflection of the best kind of beer culture. From the quality of their beer to their respectful nature, they are certainly living up to their motto, “Do What’s Right.”
Here’s to you, Maine Beer Co.