Maine Craft Beer Is Fermenting an Agricultural Revolution

A by-the-numbers look at craft beer and Maine-grown grains.

grain growing in a field
By Joel Crabtree
From our October 2022 issue

Maine used to grow lots of grains, but production shifted westward to industrial-ag operations during the 20th century. Still, a contingent of Maine farmers continued planting cereals for livestock feed or as cover crops, and as the craft-beer industry boomed over the past couple of decades, some brewers and farmers started thinking about a new use for Maine grains. Now, the state has two malthouses churning out barley and wheat for beer, plus two mills providing unmalted adjunct brewing grains such as oats. “We’re building on the heritage of Maine agriculture,” Maine Brewers’ Guild director Sean Sullivan says. “Local grains aren’t just an exploration into flavor profiles; they’re a commitment to our economy and our future.”


Pounds of Maine grains Allagash Brewing Company, the state’s largest craft brewery, uses annually. That’s up from just 65,000 in 2016.


Founding year for Maine’s first commercial malthouse, Blue Ox Malt, in Lisbon Falls. Blue Ox’s first batch was several thousand pounds; the facility now processes about a million pounds annually.


Percent of grains in Bissell Brothers Brewing’s flagship Substance Ale grown in Maine. Bissell sold about 6,000 barrels of Substance last year — enough for every man, woman, and child in Maine to have a pint.


Pigs at Turning Page Farm fed with spent grains from the farm’s on-site brewery. Many non-farm breweries around the state donate their spent grains to farms.


Acres of barley cultivated by the six family farms supplying Maine’s largest malting operation, Maine Malt House, in Mapleton. The former potato farm provides Maine breweries with about 2.4 million pounds of grain per year.