ELLSWORTH — Brewers from Airline Brewing Co. and Fogtown Brewing spent Thursday morning loading kegs of beer that will be headed to Leeds, England, for the 7th annual Leeds International Beer Festival in September.
Airline and Fogtown were two of nearly 70 Maine breweries to help fill the “Maine Beer Box,” which is a corrugated steel shipping container. Atlantic Brewing Co. in Bar Harbor is represented, as is Mason’s Brewing Co. in Brewer.
A freight ship will take the container to Leeds, where Maine breweries will be featured at the festival.
The Maine Beer Box is a custom-built, 12-meter-long, refrigerated shipping container, with 78 beer taps on the side and a fully self-contained CO2 draft system.
After global beer lovers get a taste of Maine beer at the Leeds International Beer Festival, brewers from across the United Kingdom will load the Maine Beer Box with their own craft beer and ship it back across the North Atlantic to Portland, Maine, where beer from regions across the United Kingdom will be featured at the Maine Brewers’ Guild winter session Beer Festival in November, thereby completing the global brewers trade.
Part marketing, part goodwill trade mission and part economic development initiative, the project involves breweries of all sizes, from each area of Maine.
Many of the brewers will travel with their beer to the United Kingdom, where they will meet with local brewers, share their craft and pour beer side by side at the festival.
“We are thrilled that the Maine Brewers’ Guild has chosen Leeds International Beer Festival as the U.K. destination for the Maine Beer Box,” said festival organizer John Kelly. “With the shared aspiration of promoting and supporting breweries and beer making in our own parts of the world, the Maine Beer Box will be an incredible and exciting addition to the 7th festival.”
“The festival is also proud to act as a platform and host this reciprocal initiative,” Kelly said.
“The American craft beer industry would not be where it is today without brewers from the United Kingdom,” said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild. “The Maine Beer Box is a unique and prominent symbol of the collaborative spirit of Maine, and American craft brewers.
“This is an exciting opportunity and homage to our heritage, which showcases how far craft beer has come in Maine in the last few decades.”
The Maine Beer Box is believed to be the largest mobile kegerator ever built, and can bring craft beer anywhere in the world, by land or by sea. The initiative is intended to facilitate a global exchange of beer, brewing knowledge and camaraderie between Maine brewers and brewers from ports across the North Atlantic that are served by Eimskip’s shipping fleet.
Eimskip and the Maine Brewers’ Guild launched this first-of-its-kind project in 2017, trading beer with brewers from Iceland and hosting the largest beer festival in Icelandic history last June.
Eimskip, an Icelandic-based shipping company has its North American headquarters in Portland, Maine, and will be helping the guild ship the Beer Box into its Immingham port.
Tickets, news and updates about this year’s Leeds International Beer Festival can be found at www.leedsbeer.com. More information on the Maine Beer Box can be found at http://bit.ly/mainebbox.