Two Maine Businessmen Find Fun and Profit in Beer
CARRABASSETT VALLEY, Maine – Joe Karter, the long-time owner of Joka’s Discount Beverage in Waterville, Maine, has passionate customers. They routinely ask him how to select the best micro-brew from the 100 or more that he stocks on his shelves. How to choose? Maine liquor laws prevented him from holding beer-tasting events in his Waterville store and the only way folks could sample a wide variety of beers was to organize a brew festival at a much larger venue.
Joe teamed up with Jon Laitin whom he knew from the Waterville Intown Business Association. They spent a year trying to find an appropriate space in Waterville and it wasn’t until Jon suggested the Augusta Civic Center that they turned their attention to the Augusta area. The Civic Center had an open Saturday in April of 2009 and the Central Maine Brew Fest was born.
Since 2009, the duo has produced four brew fests which have included two events at the August Civic Center, one event at Point Lookout in Northport, Maine and a forth at the Augusta Armory. Their fifth venture will take place at the Sugarloaf Outdoor Center in Carrabassett Valley, Maine on September 10 from 2-6pm. The event will be their first outdoor event and will feature 13 Maine brewers and music from the Pat Pepin’s Blue Ribbon Band and the Blues Prophets.
“It’s been a rewarding challenge,” says Laitin who has used his organizing and marketing skills to make the brew festivals successful. “The Maine brewers love the exposure and our customers enjoy the beer tasting, socializing, and listening to some of the most exciting bands in the State.”
Karter, who deals with the brewers and distributors on a daily basis from Jokas’ Discount Beverage, says the festivals have made his business a lot more interesting. His only regret is not being able to relax and do some tasting on the day of the event. “Jon does all his part in advance and can schmooze and booze with the brewers and customers at the festivals while I deal with ice, kegs, and spills.”
Joe and Jon are looking forward to the Sugarloaf Brews & Blues Festival as it will be their first outdoor event. “It’s a great location in a beautiful part of the State,” says Laitin. “It’s too bad I won’t be able to do a few ski runs on Sunday following the festival. I hear the golf course is great but I don’t play.”
Karter, who neither skis nor plays golf, says he will take the lift to the summit to enjoy the fall scenery. “Jon used to take me mountain hiking but I can’t keep up with him even though I’m 10 years younger.” Regardless, Karter admits they have an ideal partnership. “You put together an alpha personality with an easy going accommodator and you make a great team.”
And it’s that “great team” helping to spread the word that Maine’s micro-breweries produce some of the best beer in the country.
Pre-purchased tickets are available for $25 per person ($30 at the door), and are available for purchase online now at www.centralmainebrews.com . Sugarloaf is also offering special event packages that include overnight lodging and festival tickets for just $80 per person.
For $148 per person, guests can book packages that include lodging at the Sugarloaf Mountain Hotel, festival ticket, greens fees at the Sugarloaf Golf Club, and breakfast at the Double Diamond Restaurant.
For more information on lodging packages, please visit www.sugarloaf.com , or call 1-800-THE-LOAF .
For additional information on the Sugarloaf Brews and Blues Festival, please visit www.centralmainebrews.com .
About the Sugarloaf Resort- Located in Carrabassett Valley, ME, Sugarloaf is largest ski area in the East, and is home to the only lift-serviced above treeline skiing and riding in the East and the number one golf course in Maine, according to Golf Digest. Sugarloaf is a member of the Boyne Resorts family of resorts and attractions. Follow: www.sugarloaf.com , www.facebook.com/sugarloaf , and http://twitter.com/sugarloafmaine .