“It all came together so quickly that there wasn’t time for marketing or any promotional work. We just wanted to pull it off,” said David Carlson, referring to the unique Maine Beer Box that is making its US debut tomorrow afternoon at the Beer Festival at Thompson’s Point.
The refrigerated Box made its initial appearance at the BJOR Beer Festival in Iceland on June 24th of this year. Over two thousand people attended that one day event. It was a ten day trip from Portland via EIMSKIP, the container shipping company based on the city’s western waterfront. And it was a herculean task to meet that June 2017 Beer Festival deadline Carlson said late this afternoon as he was working at the Point.
At a meeting held in Portland on April 9, 2017 principals from EIMSKIP met with Carlson and Sullivan at the Food Lab to discuss the Maine Beer Box idea. It was at that April 9th meeting that the parties decided to dedicate a shipping container to transport Maine beer to the BJOR Beer Festival in Iceland. It was a GO! That’s when the challenge of preparing the shipping container began with two Maine companies. The EIMSKIP container was full of Maine beer, half of which was sold at the BJOR Beer Festival.
Iceland has a population of 330,000 people. “But it has a tourist problem,” said Carlson. Last year there were 1.5 M tourists because the two airlines servicing Iceland offer up to 7 day free layovers there. Life is expensive in Iceland. A pint of beer costs about $12.00 – $15.00.
The ‘Box’ is a 40 ft. by 8 ft. refrigerated shipping container provided by EIMSKIP, the container shipping company based on the Portland western waterfront. The standard size container has 78 spickets hooked up to lines inside that are hooked up to kegs of beer inside. The whole deal sits on a trailer ready to deliver the goods to the beer loving public anywhere it needs to go. It was Snap Space in Brewer that was responsible for modifying the container and ZAJAC, Saco, that custom made six boxes in which the spickets are installed in the front of the container following the April 9 GO decision referred to previously. The two Maine companies had only six weeks to work their magic on the shipping containers in time for the late June BJOR Beer Festival in Iceland.
At tomorrow’s Beer Festival, the Maine Beer Box will be offering 24 different craft beers from 10 breweries in Iceland and 24 craft beers from Maine said Carlson. Pourers from the breweries in Iceland arrived earlier in the week to participate in the Big Pour!
Tickets for the third annual Beer Festival are sold out according to Sean Sullivan, director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, the host organization for the Festival. Almost 2,500 tickets were sold through eventbrite he said this afternoon at the Point as he and Carlson were setting up for the Festival tomorrow afternoon.
Carlson and Sullivan have received a 5 year commitment from EIMSKIP to transport the Box to a different country for a similar beer exchange program every year to which the Iceland based company does business. That could be the England, Norway or any of the 47 countries that the company ships to.
“It’s not about flooding Iceland with Maine Beer. It’s a beer exchange program,” said Carlson, who with Sean Sullivan, of the Maine Brewers’ Guild, came up with the idea.
Carlson, a Maine native, owns the ten year old Marshall Wharf Brewing Co and a restaurant, Three Tides Restaurant, in Belfast. Please visit marshallwharf.com for more information.