Maine Beer Co. opened its expanded Freeport tasting room in March with additional food options and seating. Taylor Abbott / The Forecaster

FREEPORT — A Route 1 brewery’s success has helped craft a recent expansion and a pledge to donate $150,000 to environmental interests.

Maine Beer Co. at 525 Route 1 can now accommodate upwards of 400 guests in an expanded tasting room, up from the previous capacity of approximately 60 patrons.

What used to be the production space at Maine Beer Co. in Freeport has been converted into a larger tasting room with community-style seating.

The brewery, which moved to Freeport in 2013, pledged to donate 1% of gross annual sales when brothers David and Daniel Kleban started the business in 2009 in Portland. They joined 1% for the Planet, which was founded on the belief that companies should give back to the earth since resources come from the planet.

“The idea is that if everyone just gave 1%, we could really kind of make a dent in climate change and protecting the world around us,” Anne Marisic, marketing and events coordinator at the brewery, said. “The number is exciting to watch. It starts out very small. We were barely making anything. One of our first checks was for $100 and now we’re in the position to give close to $150,000.”

Most of the nonprofits that Maine Beer Co. donates to through the organization are based in Maine, Marisic said, including the Bicycle Coalition of Maine, Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters, and Center for Wildlife.

Maine Beer Co. has also invested in solar energy. A 50 kW system on the roof of the original production space produces enough energy to power the new tasting room.

“Before our current governor, there was not a lot of support from the state for the use of solar energy,” Marisic said. “For many, it was cost-prohibitive. We want to show that this is possible. Our current solar panels powers our entire tasting room with the hope that the more panels we put on, the more we can offset the energy that we are using.”

She said the Kleban brothers choose to run the business to be as energy efficient as possible. While being 100% solar may not happen at Maine Beer Co., she said they hope to see the trend grow and become more accessible.

The brewery, with a motto of “Do what’s right,” recently helped fund a solar energy project at Wolfe’s Neck Center on Burnett Road. Marisic said the donation covered a sixth of the installation’s cost, and Wolfe’s Neck will save about $20,000 a year in electricity bills.

“We are looking for nonprofits that are interested in solar projects so that we can contribute,” she said.

 


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