Allagash Brewing Co. founder Rob Tod has so many visitors to his Portland tasting room that he finally will start charging for certain samples, he told beer connoisseurs Wednesday.
He’s believed to be the last free-beer holdout among Maine’s craft brewers.
One of the state’s largest brewers by volume, Allagash has lagged the field of Maine’s 93 craft breweries in charging customers. The others started after a law change in 2011 for tasting room sales, said Sean Sullivan, executive director of the Maine Brewers’ Guild.
“They’ve been extremely generous for a long period of time,” Sullivan said. “The cost must have been substantial to give away beer to every person. They’re now aligning themselves with other brewers.”
Allagash’s Tod wrote about the change in a blog on the company’s website.
“Recently, the volume of guests who have come through the brewery has been more than we’ve ever dreamed,” he wrote.
In July alone, Allagash gave free beer to 22,000 tasters visiting the brewery, about equal to the amount in all of 2014, said Jill Perry, head of retail operations at Allagash.
“We loved doing it and the spirit of giving free samples,” she said. “But to be a viable company we can’t give away that much beer.”
She did not have figures on the volume or cost of the free beer Allagash has given out.
Two sample pours of 6-10 ounces, with size determined by the type of beer, will cost $4, the same as a tasting flight of four, 3-ounce beers. However, customers taking free brewery tours still will get samples at no charge.
The brewery will close Oct. 15-17 for updates and reopen Oct. 18, when the new fees take effect, Perry said.