Beer coasters marry wood products and craft brewing in Maine

A new company in Maine is taking advantage of the huge boom in craft brewing with an effort to help the state’s declining paper mills by making environmentally responsible beer coasters.

Maine Coasters +Bio Boards is making beer coasters by blending wood pulp from Maine’s paper industry with other additives, including spent grain from breweries. Maine has more than 100 beer breweries as the explosive popularity of craft beer continues.

Prototypes for the coasters were generated at the University of Maine Process Development Center and commercial production was handled at Maine-based paper mills.

Maine pine and spruce wood pulp form the foundation for the coasters. Spent grain left over from the beer brewing process is added to the mix. The coasters are printed with environmentally friendly vegetable dyes.

“Our pulpboard is unlike anything else on the market,” says a statement on the company’s website. “We use softwood pulp native to Maine, combined with spent grain from local breweries, to form a multilayered web. It is highly absorbent with a smooth surface, ideal for offset lithographic printing.”

According to the company, the coasters meet environmental standards established by FSC and SFI certification. They are biodegradable and are made with waste materials diverted from landfills. But at the same time, the coasters meet all of the beer and beverage commercial standards, including absorbancy, wet-strength, and printability.

“Currently, nine out of every 10 beverage coasters in the U.S. come from raw materials in Germany,” a company spokesman said. “Maine has the natural resources, infrastructure, and world-class research facilities to make them in-state. That's our goal. We want to create bio-based products locally that are healthy for the environment and connect consumers to their favorite brands. Join us!”

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William Sampson

William Sampson is a lifelong woodworker, and he has been an advocate for small-scale entrepreneurs and lean manufacturing since the 1980s. He was the editor of Fine Woodworking magazine in the early 1990s and founded WoodshopBusiness magazine, which he eventually sold and merged with CabinetMaker magazine. He helped found the Cabinet Makers Association in 1998 and was its first executive director. Today, as editorial director of Woodworking Network and FDMC magazine he has more than 20 years experience covering the professional woodworking industry. His popular "In the Shop" tool reviews and videos appear monthly in FDMC.