November 13, 2019
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Maine brewer to debut beer benefiting Special Olympics

Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald
Rich Beauchesne | Portsmouth Herald
Pat Rowan, owner of Woodland Farms Brewery in Kittery, holds out a glass of beer with local law enforcement officers Matt, left, and Brian Cummer. Brian Cummer, a Kittery community police officer, is the father of Matt, a corrections officer with the York County Sheriff's Office. The three have collaborated to plan a new beer benefiting the Special Olympics.

KITTERY, Maine — At next month’s annual Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, when Kittery police officers pass the torch, they’ll have a special thirst-quencher awaiting them.

A Kolsch-style beer, thanks to the town’s community police officer and his son, in partnership with Woodland Farms Brewery. Called “Torch Runner,” all beer profits will go directly to Maine Special Olympics.

This year is the 34th anniversary of the Maine Torch Run, a 32-mile run completed by police officers from each town, in advance of the Special Olympics’ Summer Games opening ceremonies in Orono. The run will hit Kittery on the morning of June 6.

“This combines two of my favorite things in the world, beer and Special Olympics,” said Brian Cummer. “It’s the perfect marriage for me.”

Cummer said he and his son, Matt Cummer, a corrections officer with the York County Sheriff’s Department, had been actively brainstorming different, creative ways they could raise money for Special Olympics.

“One day we were having a beer at the bar in my basement and we said, ‘It would be cool if we could find a brewery that would brew a beer for us,’” Brian Cummer said. “It was just talk.”

Not long after, while promoting a designated driver awareness program, Brian Cummer found himself in Route 1′s Woodland Farms Brewery talking with owner Pat Rowan.

“Before I finished my statement, Pat said yes,” Brian Cummer said. “I thought it would be next year, but he said, ‘No we’ll have it out by June.’ He doesn’t realize it but he’s part of the Special Olympics family now.”

Rowan’s initial thoughts? “Heck yeah,” he said.

“We had been looking for a partnership with a charity that meant something to us. I grew up with a guy on the force here in Kittery, and it just seemed to be something that was the right thing to do. I love brewing beer period, so to be able to brew beer that raises money for a cause.”

When deciding what kind of beer would bear the “Torch Runner” name, Rowan, his brewers and the Cummers were very deliberate in their choosing.

“We were making sure it was an approachable style,” he said. “We spit-balled for a while. We talked about a pale ale, but ultimately I’ve brewed the Kolsch a bunch of times. It’s one of my personal favorites.”

Rowan joked the Kolsch-style is a “cop beer.”

“Light, easy drinking, refreshing, crisp” he said.

Woodland Farms brewed a seven-barrel batch, equivalent to 40 cases or so. The beer will be available on draft and in cans.

“I could definitely see this taking off,” Rowan said. “The beer is good, the message is good, the cause is good.”

“We’re super excited,” Matt Cummer said. “It’s going to be awesome.”

The “Torch Runner” release event will be held Saturday, June 2 at 12 p.m. Any establishments interested in pre-ordering the beer can contact Mariner Beverages at (207) 699-2007 ext. 108. Robert’s Maine Grill and several downtown Kittery eateries have already expressed interest, Brian Cummer said.

Maine Special Olympics’ programs serve approximately 4,300 adults and children, and the state’s law enforcement is its No. 1 independent fundraiser.

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