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My Maine Beer Co. experience

Discussion in 'New England' started by Bowdoinbeerboy, Feb 9, 2013.

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  1. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Do you have numbers to back that up? I've been assuming that Jack's Abby was much more well funded from the very beginning and had a lot more capacity at start up than a lot of craft brewers. I'm thinking that even with MBC's much wider distribution area that Jack's Abby still cranks out a lot more beer. I've got no numbers, though.
  2. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    I do--let me dig them up. You can find them by going through news articles related to their respective expansions.

    MBC may have started smaller initially, but by the time JA opened they were about the same size IIRC.
  3. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Some data:
    JA brews 2500 bbl in 2012 with 3000 bbl capacity; expanding to 5000 bbl capacity in 2013
    It looks like JA opened with 4x30bbl fermentors (I think they're 30bbl; could be 40). When they added 2x40bbl, they expanded to 3000bbl/yr, so their day-1 capacity was 1800bbl/yr or so.
    MBC expanding from 3k bbl to 5k bbl in 2013
    MBC expanded from 1500 to 3000bbl in April of 2012.

    So the timeline looks like this:
    2011 - Q1 2012
    JA 1800 bbl, MBC 1500bbl
    Q2 2012 - Q4 2012
    JA 3000bbl, MBC 3000bbl
    JA 5000bbl, MBC 3000bbl, expanding to 5000 after moving to Freeport.

    Note that MBC seems to think they'll get almost double the production from the same fermentor space.
    jamvt and geocool like this.
  4. tehzachatak

    tehzachatak Initiate (0) Sep 19, 2010 Massachusetts

    Interesting. I would imagine that if you don't look at them side by side in time, MBC was a lot smaller at the brewery launch. IIRC, MBC was on like a 3 barrel system or something when they originally opened (which you mentioned). JA, as you pointed out, opened with 4x30bbl fermentors.

    But yeah, looks like they're pretty much the same otherwise... So seems like people are probably drinking a lot more JA per capita, given the smaller footprint, which makes sense, given the $$$ on the bottles.
  5. Horbar

    Horbar Zealot (560) Feb 24, 2012 Rhode Island

    Overhead costs, starting capital and many other factors could effect MBC's price point. Maybe JA had advantageous funding when starting out. I'm sure the MBC guys aren't rolling in dough.
  6. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Perhaps. But now we're getting really wishy-washy. If that's what people want to believe, fine. But they should not believe it's because they're small, since breweries like JA have demonstrated you don't need MBC prices at MBC capacities.

    Oh, and if debt service or overhead on a warehouse in Maine are responsible for doubling the price of beer, well, I hope they use some of that money to hire someone to run their business better.
  7. dciBA

    dciBA Aspirant (260) Dec 23, 2007 Maine
    Beer Trader

    MBC should probably hire the members of this forum since they have it all figured out. :wink: Jacks abby does hoppy beers in 16.9oz bottles just like MBC so obviously they should be priced the same right?
    smutty33, MaineMike and theo871 like this.
  8. slarrage

    slarrage Aspirant (213) Oct 4, 2012 Massachusetts

    I'm a fan of the 'peeper' despite it's price point but have had trouble tracking down a fresh bottle in the Boston area lately. I've come across 10/12, 8/12 and even 3/12 bottled dates

    I did get some nice fresh ones a few months back at the Craft Beer Cellar in Belmont
  9. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I'm willing to listen to other reasonable explanations for the huge difference, in fact I am actively fishing for them in this thread. Yeah, maybe Jack's Abby is losing money on every barrel, and MBC's costs are ridiculously higher for unknown reasons. But I'm going to go with Occam's Razor which can only have us believe that MBC is selling this stuff at a huge margin. I also think it's interesting that with similar production numbers, one brewery is focusing on filling demand in their home state only while the other is now sold in nine states and counting. If I had to place a bet on which of these two breweries has a business model with staying power, I know which one I'd pick.
  10. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Bring it on. If MBC opens their books I'm sure we can help them out, and for free (or at least for beer). :wink:
  11. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,456) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    not to enter any arguments, but notice that people complain about MBC prices because they want to buy more of their beer but feel priced out.

    it's not the same as the usual rogue bash ("so overpriced, so consistently meh quality-wise!"). most of us feel that MBC is just a little better than the wider distributed hoppy beers (stone, green flash, cigar city, founders, sierra nevada, etc) and want them to be our go to pale ales if we don't live in VT. but it's not better enough to pay > twice the price.

    jack's abby comes up so much because, 1) same size brewery, 2) same rough location, 3) 500ml bottles, 4) really good hoppy beers, 5) lower price.

    myself, even before i moved to NY i'd go for sierra nevada before i'd really hit MBC (or even jack's abby) hard. love both of the latter, but for volume buying i don't think either one is competitive. specialty-only for me.


    edit: re: tour, sounds great. i'd take if it i were in the area.
    cbeer88 and Patrick like this.
  12. beerinmaine

    beerinmaine Initiate (0) Jun 20, 2009 Maine

    Perhaps stashing away cash to pay for the new brewery & tasting room, which is freaking huge compared to the current location.

    Their existing space is leased and can't be terribly expensive, as it does (or did) house 2 other breweries too.
  13. natebowman

    natebowman Initiate (0) Feb 13, 2013

    Hey Guys,

    Just wanted to jump in on this thread as I have some first hand experience with MBC. I'm the creator/producer/editor of Local Brew, a web/tv show about Maine craft beer. We shot our second episode at Maine Beer Company last October. Dan Kleban was the guy who agreed to let us film for an entire day and he was great. In fact everyone we interacted with there was really cool.

    If you'd like a tour of the brewery from the comfort of your computer then check our the show here: Local Brew, Ep2 | Maine Beer Company

    We tagged along with one of their brewers and helped make a batch of Mean Old Tom. We also got to see their conditioning room and learn about why they bottle condition all there beer - something that might shed some light on why it costs so much. And as an added bonus we visited Novare Res in Portland. Oh and we rode the Maine Brew Bus, which if you ever get to Portland, you should definitely do!

    And no, I don't work for any of these establishments. I just love beer.

    smutty33 likes this.
  14. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    If they aren't rolliing in dough, why are they donating money from profits to charity so early in the game?
  15. Horbar

    Horbar Zealot (560) Feb 24, 2012 Rhode Island

    What a bunch of jerks!! Shame on them for being charitable.
    smutty33 likes this.
  16. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    You do realize the amount donated is less than the bottle deposit, right? Sheesh.
    Horbar, RMoeNay and smutty33 like this.
  17. Brez07

    Brez07 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2009 Maine

    Well, it's one thing to be charitable... and an entirely different thing to charge 1% more for your regular beers (or $10 more for a special release) than you regularly would and take the charitable deduction.

    Yes, I'm basically saying MBC beers should be priced 1% less than they are. I know it's neglible per bottle, but don't pretend like it's just charitable when it doesn't affect your bottom line.
  18. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Of course this affects their bottom line, unless they're in that 100% tax bracket the Republicans keep talking about.
    smutty33 likes this.
  19. Brez07

    Brez07 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2009 Maine

    Sorry, I guess I wasn't entirely clear. What I'm trying to say is:

    Bottom line with regularly priced beers = Bottom line with beers priced 1% higher less 1% "for the planet"
  20. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    You can donate all you want, but when it is one of the first things they tell you about their company- it seems a little phoney. Why do we have to read about it on their bottles- just do it and shut up about it- unless you want people to know for a reason (what reason?). I ran a business it was a while until we were in a position to donate anything- you have to keep pumping money back into it- some owners don't even take a salary, let alone donate "profits" the first couple of years. Starting and running a business is tough and I don't see how any can donate "profts" from day one.
  21. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont


    most of us feel that MBC is just a little better than the wider distributed hoppy beers (stone, green flash, cigar city, founders, sierra nevada, etc) and want them to be our go to pale ales if we don't live in VT.[/quote]

    I live in Vermot- what great go to pale ales do I get? Down south I've never even seen a bottle of Hill Farmstead or Lawson's. We had Heady Topper for a couple of weeks last summer- but then it went away, but hopefully that will change. My go to IPA is Torpedo.[/quote]
  22. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    If MBC labels offend you, please don't read Stone labels.


    (sorry to ninja-edit you, RMoeNay)
    RMoeNay and smutty33 like this.
  23. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2010 Connecticut

    Does Stone tell everyone a portion of the money you pay for a bottle goes to charity? Did I miss that?

    If so I need to pay more attention to the essay on my bottles...
  24. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I think the mere fact that people can be so pissed off that something like 3-4 cents per bottle is going to charity is proof enough that it affects their bottom line. Hopefully most people are happy to contribute and the net effect is positive.
  25. Brez07

    Brez07 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2009 Maine

    To be clear, I'm not upset about about them giving to charity. But let's be honest about it - it's really the consumer giving to charity, not the brewery
  26. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Actually, it's really your employer giving to charity, since that's where the money comes from.
  27. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2010 Connecticut

    Actually if we want to play that game, it's another consumer who paid for something (be it stock, physical item, service) or even further it's all the US mint..... If I give a service for an agreed monetary amount, said monetary amount is mine to do with what I please, including what I choose to give to charity.
  28. Andrew61923

    Andrew61923 Initiate (0) Nov 6, 2009 California

    Also curious where you found Kiwi Rising for $3.50. When I went to the brewery, it was $5 a bottle. That's a big drop in price, especially when you're getting it straight from the source.
    Horbar likes this.
  29. emannths

    emannths Initiate (193) Sep 21, 2007 Massachusetts

    Straight from the source is almost never the cheapest option when it comes to beer...
  30. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2010 Connecticut

    Maybe that's the invoiced price?

    *edit* from my experience brewerys sell at MSRP.
  31. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    Exactly, just like if you were a brewer who sold someone a beer.
  32. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2010 Connecticut

    I think the problem is not that they give to charity, it's that they seem to flaunt it. I personally don't care, seems you dont either, but that seems to be the issue.
  33. geocool

    geocool Initiate (175) Jun 21, 2006 Massachusetts

    I think it's great that they give to charity. It seems to really bug you for some reason. I don't think it's great that I've engaged you in this dumb back and forth, so I will now stop.
    Horbar likes this.
  34. RMoeNay

    RMoeNay Initiate (0) Sep 22, 2010 Connecticut

    Lol reread my post... I don't care what they do.
  35. Zurich

    Zurich Initiate (27) Sep 4, 2012 New York
    Beer Trader

    I've been to MBC. The tour wasn't great. There isn't much to tour! It's 2 garages in a tiny industrial park. I could barely hear the guy over the equipment and he didn't seem 100% engaged, because yeah, lots was going on around him. However, he answered everyone's questions and gave us some beer. He was polite and nice when I spoke with him after. For a FREE tour, I think I got a pretty awesome deal!

    I support MBC, because I love their beers, first and foremost. Beyond that, every brewer and brewery tells a story and I can relate to MBC's. They're a small shop and their beers show they care about their family, their area, and the environment. I like that they share things with their beer like their kid's names, the story of Mean Old Tom, and how they champion their favorite causes (see: King Titus).

    I also like their labels. In a marketplace flooded with lots of over-the-top imagery, they communicate a simple elegance and it fits them and their beer.

    I don't think they're marking up everyone's beer to make that 1% donation, they're doing it because they obviously care. And that's why their motto is "Do Right." and they call out their causes. They care and are passionate about it. I don't think that's showy or preachy, I just think that's their character and a statement about what they're trying to do. Just like Stone's gargoyles and their little essays share some of their character.

    A last note re: calling out charity, I wouldn't know anything about King Titus or the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund if they didn't call it out. I make contributions to wildlife funds/charities and now that I know, maybe I'll look their way in the future. That's certainly another reason MBC calls it out.
    Horbar, Pahn and RMoeNay like this.
  36. Brez07

    Brez07 Initiate (0) Sep 29, 2009 Maine

    Well that's a fun way of saying you disagree with my post :rolling_eyes:
    geocool likes this.
  37. cbeer88

    cbeer88 Crusader (719) Sep 5, 2007 Massachusetts

    That's a really rock bottom price on it, but $4.something was a pretty common street price compared to the $7-$8 Lunch street price. More to it, it's an odd comparison. Hoponius Union is the spiritual equivalent of Lunch - 6.7% "IPA" vs 7% IPA, and HU goes for $11 a 4-pack. Kiwi would be a better comparison with "Double Lunch", if MBC ever came out with such a thing.

    Anyway - the pricing argument has been hashed out in other threads. The MBC model is pretty clear - price highly and expand distro rapidly, banking on sales in new markets to keep that sweet sweet margin rolling in. Meanwhile, their beers are lingering and collecting dust all over the place in MA, because they are clearly overpriced once the newness of the brand wears off. (Their quality is certainly not in question, which is the other reason why bottles collect dust)

    It can't go on forever, so the only question that remains is when they decide to stop this game and whether it will be too late to win back lost fans. It's a very interesting and risky strategy that could pay off extremely well, or not. Only time will tell. But no truer words have been spoken than on an earlier post: We complain about the prices because we love the beer and want to buy more of it but can't justify what they are charging, not because we are just bitching for the sake of bitching.
    Patrick and geocool like this.
  38. neophilus

    neophilus Initiate (0) Apr 4, 2009 Massachusetts

    It's just too expensive to be a go-to beer. You can justify one bottle for $6-7, but 2 bottles for $12-14? 3 bottles is running you about $20? They really need to do what Jack's Abby is doing - package in 4 packs and drop the price per bottle. Otherwise it will remain a novelty item.
  39. Pahn

    Pahn Meyvn (1,456) Dec 2, 2009 New York
    Beer Trader

    lawson's just have to look up places to buy it, heady get from the brewery. hill farmstead have to get on tap or go to the brewery which is in the middle of nowhere unfortunately.

    if waterbury is too much of a pain in the ass to get to, torpedo isn't a bad substitute at all IMO.


    edit: p.s. i just passed on a row of zoe bottles because they were bottled in 2012. i love zoe, but it needs to be fresh, and it needs to move off shelves fast. it's great if other people are satisfied, but the MBC model does not work for me.
  40. Flashy

    Flashy Initiate (0) Oct 22, 2003 Vermont

    Heard a local place has James on tap. Will head there tomorrow.
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