In the merry spirit of beer drinkers everywhere and a shameless bid for publicity, the group of Maine brewers transformed a 40-foot refrigerated shipping container into a floating beer keg. Inside are dozens of brands of Maine craft beer and 78 taps that will allow people to draw a beer from the side of the container. The brewers say the container, which was previously used to deep-freeze fish, is now the largest “kegerator” ever built.
Upon arrival in Iceland, the beer box will be able to serve thirsty Icelanders at the June 24 BjórFestival, a craft beer festival. When the party’s over in Reykjavik, Icelandic craft brewers will refill the container with their brew and send it back to Maine for Portland’s Summer Session Beer Festival on July 29. Some folks from Maine’s 90 or so breweries are stowaways on the nine-day voyage, eager to exchange brewing craft and beers with their Icelandic counterparts.
Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers Guild, said in an interview Monday that the idea for the Maine Beer Box grew out of a trade conference sometime back, when he heard it was cheaper to ship a container to Europe than to truck one to the southeast United States.
With the U.S. market more and more saturated with craft beer, so to speak, Maine’s brewers were eager to find new customers in Europe, Sullivan said. Plus, Maine brewers already trade back and forth across international lines, using such ingredients as malts from Germany and hops from New Zealand and Australia. Iceland also happens to be one of Portland’s biggest international trade partners, and so the giant Beer Box exchange was born.
Alas, no one smashed a ceremonial bottle of champagne or beer or anything across the front of the giant beer box at Saturday’s launch.
“I was thinking we should take a bottle of Geary’s and smash it on a corner of [the container] in the ship christening vein,” Sullivan said.
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