January 22, 2016
LISBON FALLS, ME – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) celebrated the official opening of Blue Ox Malthouse, a 7,500 square foot facility in Lisbon Falls established by owner Joel Alex which will nearly double Maine and New England craft brewers’ access to locally sourced and produced malts. As a strong supporter of Maine’s craft brewing industry, Senator King welcomed the new facility and underscored how it will help strengthen local economies and communities.
“With the opening of the Blue Ox Malthouse in Lisbon Falls, Maine people have yet another reason to raise a glass in celebration of our thriving craft brew industry,” Senator King said. “This impressive new operation will improve the industry supply chain by nearly doubling Maine brewers’ access to local, home-grown malts, bolstering a growing craft beer industry that has already created thousands of jobs in our great state. I commend Blue Ox Malthouse for its vision, its success and for its commitment to strengthening our economies and our communities through local, sustainably sourced materials.”
Blue Ox Malthouse’s facility uses traditional floor malting to process raw grain into malt, the ingredient used in brewing and distilling beer. The company is certified by Maine Organic Farmers’ and Gardeners’ Association for both organic and non-organic production. By doubling Maine and New England craft brewers’ access to local malts, Blue Ox Malthouse will increase brewers’ ability to make products that are both brewed and sourced locally. Until recently Maine grown grains had to be exported for processing before being imported back for brewing, but with its capacity to produce more than 500,000 pounds of malt annually, Blue Ox Malthouse provides an instate market for up to three quarters a million pounds of small grains, also making it one of the top ten largest facilities of its kind in North America.
Blue Ox Malthouse Founder, President and Old Town Native Joel Alex began working with the Maine Small Business Development Center in 2013 and received a MTI TechStart Grant to conduct a feasibility study and develop his business plan. Other organizations that have supported Blue Ox Malthouse’s mission through investment in local agricultural and rural economic development and were present at the ceremony include Coastal Enterprises Inc. (CEI), Maine Technology Institute (MTI), Slow Money Maine, Maine Department of Community and Economic Development, Maine Center for Entrepreneurial Development, and the Town of Lisbon.
Senator King has worked hard in Congress to support the continued growth of Maine’s craft brewing industry. He is a cosponsor of the Small BREW Act, legislation introduced by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.) that would reduce the federal excise tax on America’s small craft brewers and change the threshold definition of a small brewer to better reflect modern production. Senator King also recently urged the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate the merger of two larger beer conglomerates to determine if it would crowd out competition and hamper the growth of small breweries.
In 2014, Senator King has also fought to preserve the long-standing and mutually-beneficial relationship between small brewers and local farmers, expressing concern about a proposed rule from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that could have made it more difficult for beer makers to give their “spent grains” to farmers for animal feed. The FDA later revised the proposed rule to address the spent grain concerns.