MONHEGAN, Maine — A family that operates a brewery 10 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean will be offering a new island-themed beer at the end of the month.
Monhegan Brewing Company and the Island Institute announced Wednesday the release of the new island-themed beer, a “summer blonde” brew named 15, after the 15 year-round island communities on the Maine coast. Artwork for the beer label was provided by Monhegan artist Donna Cundy.
The Island Institute will receive $1 for every bottle of 15 sold. Monhegan Brewing co-owner Mary Weber said that they support the work of the Island Institute, which helped Monhegan Brewing at its start by providing some capital funding through a loan.
Mary and her husband, Matt Weber, along with her father, Danny McGovern, started Monhegan Brewing Company in July 2013. Ninety-nine percent of the beer is sold in the Webers’ taproom, located on their property on Monhegan.
Matt Weber is a lobsterman. Mary Weber is a former teacher, having taught in Lisbon before meeting her future husband and moving to the island, where she taught for three years before giving it up for the new career operating a beer brewery.
Her father is an experienced brewmaster who founded Lake St. George Brewing in 1994. He has since sold that business and worked for other companies. Mary Weber said she, her husband and father began talking about starting a brewery several years ago.
“We had some ‘what if’ discussions, then we had more serious discussions,” she said.
The beer was so well received that they had trouble keeping up with demand. Monhegan Brewing recently added a third fermenter to increase production and meet that demand, she said. They brew once or twice each week and McGovern comes out there for each brew.
The brewery operates from April through December.
“Our goal since day one has been to encourage visitors to the island and sell beer locally, rather than shipping it off,” says Mary Weber.
Monhegan has a year-round population of 65 people, which swells in the summer.
According to the company website, Monhegan Brewing uses all Weyerman German malt and a wide array of hops, some grown right on the island. The local farmer’s co-op uses the brewery’s spent mash to fertilize and mulch their numerous plots as well as their hop yard.
The institute will host two launch events to celebrate the partnership: at Fog Bar & Cafe in Rockland on Tuesday, Aug. 11, from 5 to 8 p.m.; and on Wednesday, Aug. 12, at SPACE Gallery in Portland from 5 to 8 p.m. The launch events will feature screenings of the Island Institute’s video series “A Climate of Change,” examining the effects of climate change on fisheries in Maine and beyond.
“Matt and Mary have started a really innovative business on Monhegan and have highlighted nontraditional economic opportunities on Maine’s islands,” says Bri Warner, economic development director at the Island Institute, in a news release. “I am so excited that this partnership will highlight their business and help illustrate the creative economy that is brought to life every day by the amazing entrepreneurs that we work with.”
The beer 15 will also be available at Monhegan Brewing Company’s taproom on Monhegan beginning July 31.
Monhegan Brewing Company’s taproom on Monhegan Island is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and is accessible via the Monhegan Boat Line from Port Clyde or Hardy Boat Cruises from New Harbor.
For more event information, visit www.islandinstitute.org/events.