Building a Brewery Fit for the Canned Craft Beer Revolution

Luke Livingston has only been able to legally enjoy beer for the past five years but he’s already built his life around the stuff. Normally, a young adult’s life being consumed by alcoholic beverages is a bad thing – not this time.

Luke’s passion for good craft brews inspired him to blog about beer for a couple of years and now, at age 25, he is the President and CEO of his very own brewery. Some might say he’s living the dream. I would agree.

Baxter Brewing Co.

Luke’s brand new microbrewery, Baxter Brewing Co. is in its earliest stages, located in the Lewiston/Auburn area of Maine. Soon, they’ll begin to distribute their craft beers statewide and shortly after you’ll be able to find their stuff across Northern New England. The brews aren’t yet available to the public, so for now my favorite thing about Baxter is their tagline; “We do what we Can. We Can what we do.” Seeing as they’re the first (and only) brewery in Maine to can (or keg) all of their beer, it’s quite fitting and very clever.

I tried to dig up facts on how many breweries exclusively can their beer but I didn’t have much luck. Luckily, I was able to chat with Luke about what he’s up to and he informed me that there are more than 80 craft breweries across the U.S. and Canada that canning at least some of their beers. His brewery is the first in the New England region to go 100% aluminum.

When I think of canned craft beer, Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado comes to mind. I’m a big fan of their Gubna Imperial IPA and Mama’s Little Yella Pils – and if you read our blog at all, you know we all love the Old Chub – Hannah first wrote about it here, mentioned it again in her post about Ten Fidy and then again in a post that details the benefits of canning over bottling.

I asked Luke about his favorite canned beers (aside from his own of course) and the two he mentioned were Maui Brewing’s CoCoNut Porter and Caldera Brewing Company’s IPA – both of which I’ve added to my list of things to try.

So why did Luke choose to go with canning? There are three big reasons:

1. Cans are better for the environment – they’re made of recycled aluminum, they’re infinitely recyclable and they’re more likely to be recycled. Apparently Americans are twice as likely to recycle aluminum, as they are glass. Who knew? Also, less energy is used to produce cans and because they weigh significantly less than bottles, less fuel is needed to ship them to the brewery and eventually the end-user.

2. Cans are good for the beer. The beer inside won’t see any UV light (until you open it), the dissolved oxygen levels are much lower and the packaging will cool down much quicker – all resulting in fresher, better tasting beer.

3. No one ever got into a bar fight with a broken can. Actually, we’re just assuming there but in all seriousness, cans are better-accepted and less dangerous than glass bottles. Cans can go where glass cannot – the park, the pool, the beach, and the golf course – pretty much anywhere!

With these ideas and an entrepreneurial spirit, Luke began his business plan in June of 2009 and he hasn’t stopped since. When I asked him what his toughest challenge has been so far he was quick to respond that the restoration and rehab of a 150+-year-old mill building has not been the easiest of tasks. You can check out some of the construction photos to see what he was working with. It’s hard to believe that by November, they’ll be brewing beer here.

Baxter Brewing Co.

Although Luke has a few years of homebrewing experience (stovetop only), he would by no means call himself a brewer. He has helped with some of the test batches but almost all of the brewing is done/will be done by the Director of Brewing Operations/Head Brewer Michael LaCharite.

I think I speak for all of us when I say that I’m beyond excited to see (and taste) what these folks come up with. The more eco-friendly, quality craft beer in the world, the better! Bring it on Baxter Brewing Co., bring it on.

Note: As much as we’d like to tell you that the brewery is named after Ron Burgundy’s beloved dog in the movie Anchorman, that’s probably not the case.

[techtags:BAXTER BREWING, CRAFT BEER, MICROBREWERIES, CRAFT BREWERY]

9 Comments

  • Hannah September 10, 2010 @ 11:06am

    Congrats to Luke in realizing his dream! I can’t wait to taste some of Baxter Brewing’s beers. I wonder if the brewery name has anything to do with Baxter Blvd. in Portland?

  • Jake September 10, 2010 @ 3:36pm

    Actually, Luke named his brewery after Baxter State Park, Maine’s largest State Park and the home of Pamola, the flying moose logo. He is an Abenaki and Penobscot legend of a spirit which is said to be the god of Thunder, the cause of cold weather and protector of Mt Katahdin, which is located in Baxter State Park.

  • Hannah September 10, 2010 @ 4:20pm

    Jake – rad! Thanks for passing that along!

  • Peter September 13, 2010 @ 9:39am

    I was pleasantly surprised to find out, at a beer tasting last week, that Sly Fox brewing out of Pennsylvania cans their regular run beers. I had their pilsner, octoberfest, pale ale, and IPA all in cans. The pale ale was my favorite.

  • Deron September 13, 2010 @ 10:16pm

    Peter – Sly Fox also makes a Dunkel Lager in cans that is decent, as well as their Royal Weisse…seek them out!

  • Jay October 14, 2010 @ 1:15am

    @Hannah and @Jake…

    Fun fact, Baxter Boulevard was named after James Phinney Baxter, Mayor of Portland, while Baxter State Park was named after James’ son, Percival Proctor Baxter, who was also Governor of Maine.

    So, while Baxter Brewing might have been named in honor of the State Park, it actually kind of does have something to do with Baxter Boulevard. Huzzah!

  • Hannah October 14, 2010 @ 4:59pm

    Jay – go figure! Thanks for the info 🙂 I remember driving down Baxter Blvd years ago when I lived there. I need to make a visit soon.

  • hymie October 14, 2010 @ 6:07pm

    You cannot bruise bourbon!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!That was used for GIN and martinis

  • Hannah October 15, 2010 @ 9:19am

    Hymie – I’ve learned it to be used in regards to all types of liquor, but thanks for your input! I’ll have to look further into this.

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