Sunday, November 28, 2010

Here's to Craft Beer: A Trip to the Maine Beer Company

The Famous Pair: Zoe & Peeper Ale

Craft beer is called craft beer for a reason. The process and details have been planned so meticulously that when you open a bottle you experience deliciousness from beginning to end. It’s crafted for perfection. Hence the name craft beer.

At least it is at the Maine Beer Company in Portland, Maine. Where timing, temperature, and ingredients are matched to give you a hoppy, bubbly non-pasteurized sensation of deliciousness.

And thanks to David and Daniel Kleban, business partners and brothers, the recipe and the process are completely vegan.

“We started with a home brewing kit,” David Kleban explains as he points to the smaller boiling pot now shining from a storage corner of the brewery, ready to be sold to another owner. Beer was an interest that brewed into a hobby.

The pursuit of making beer for a business had started to form in the back of David’s mind around 2001. However, the distinct knowledge of refining the brewing process and logistics of starting the business grew over the next few years.

While David stored the idea, working on details in his head and hoping that his vision would come to fruition in the near future, Daniel finished law school and upon graduation moved to Maine. The next few years were crucial for the brothers who studied the process and decided, after enough experimentation, that they should craft a business plan and, more importantly, a recipe for ale.

In April 2009 they took the plunge and created the Maine Beer Company. The team invested in a hot liquid tank, a mash tun, and a boil kettle and started brewing Peeper-Ale.

Within the year success started to show itself. They invested in even larger equipment to accommodate the growing demand, now producing more than double their original volume. Peeper Ale officially made it's way into the beer scene and is now sold at local restaurants, bars, and grocery stores throughout Maine.

To run a successful brewery you need someone that understands the craft beer industry as well as the brewing process. You also need someone who can shift and sort through ingredients until the recipe is perfected.

David specializes in the business portion - selling, distributing, funding etc. He takes a personal approach by going into local businesses and speaking with the staff. He is also extremely artful when selecting distributors, choosing those partners that can give great attention to their products.

Daniel is in charge of making the beer. I designated him the scientist, but I believe you beer folk use the term “Brewmaster.” Since taste holds the integrity of the product, monitoring the ingredients requires close attention to measurement and proportion.

One thing I found amazing was the reaction of yeast, which can be difficult to control because they’re snobby temperamental little buggers. They do what they want and what they want may be different every time, regardless if all other factors remain constant.

“Some yeast cannot break the bonds…” This was the response to a question I had about the different strains of yeast and how they react to different temperatures. I honestly don’t even remember the exact question (as you can probably tell my beer knowledge equated to almost nothing before this visit to the brewery.) I just remember thinking, “Right – that’s probably more complex than what he might want to explain right now. At least he knows what he’s talking about…”

And since David and Daniel both know what they're doing, in business and beer making, the brewery is a growing success.

Peeper Ale is their most prevalent brew. It’s hoppy, not too strong and not too light. I would describe it as a hearty drinking ale.

They also make Zoe, an amber ale. With a multitude of different hops in one brew, it’s designed for people with a more refined beer tasting palette.
Both brews are vegan! 

I’m not talking about the beer in this section.

David and Daniel believe strongly in giving back to the community. They are a member of 1% for the Planet, donate to Adopt-A-Whale and the Gorilla Fund. They also use 100% wind power for electricity and donate used grain, yeast and grain bags to local farmers. Go team.

Whether you want to try it, already like to drink it, or just like the way it’s packaged - you should look for Peeper Ale and Zoe the next you’re in Maine.

So where can you find it? Maine Beer Company products can be purchased at Whole Foods, Novare Res, Great Lost Bear, Fore Street and mounds of other restaurants. Look for it on the menu!


So I know what some of you may be thinking, "All beer is vegan. What the heck is she talking about?" And the truth is that, no, sometimes beer contains ingredients that make them unable to be consumed by fabulous vegans. Here is some more information on ingredients and resources:

    If everyone served Peeper Ale, all happy hours would be vegan friendly.


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