What beer and brook trout have in common

By Bob Mallard

No recreational fishing-related natural resource in Maine is as unique and important as our State Heritage Fish waters that legally protect the nation’s largest inventory of wild, native brook trout lakes and ponds.

Maine is home to roughly 90 percent of the country’s wild native brook trout lakes and ponds, which are virtually nonexistent beyond northern New England and upstate New York. 

Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters were created in 2005 via citizen-initiated legislation spearheaded by Sportsman’s Alliance of Maine and supported by groups such as Dud Dean Angling Society and Trout Unlimited.  

Since then, the Native Fish Coalition, SAM, Maine Audubon, The Nature Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Club, Penobscot Nation, Passamaquoddy Tribe, and private businesses and residents have supported the program.


Promotion of our State Heritage Fish waters has not been what it should be when you consider the potential biological, economic and social value of the resource. 

Many outside, and even inside, the state still don’t know what our State Heritage Fish waters are nearly 20 years after the law went into effect.

The most notable promotion to date is informational signs posted at the waters by the Native Fish Coalition with support from SAM and numerous volunteers.  

In early spring 2023, Northwoods Brewing Company out of Northwood, New Hampshire, approached the Native Fish Coalition because the brewers wanted to develop a specialty beer commemorating Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters.

The goal was to raise awareness for this unique and important natural resource, as well as to raise money for conservation of wild, native fish. Seeing the obvious and notable value in doing so, we jumped at the opportunity.

After a couple of conversations where we swapped ideas and provided a logo and sign artwork, Northwoods Brewing came back to us with proposed artwork for the beer can. Developed by Sarah Fenerty, daughter of the owners and marketing director for Northwoods Brewing, it was beyond anything we could have hoped.

The artwork spotlighted Maine, brook trout, State Heritage Fish waters and the Native Fish Coalition, complete with a QR code so folks could learn more about the SHF program.

This led to the creation of Heritage Waters IPA, the first installment in Northwoods Brewing’s Preservation Line of beer that helps give back to causes that support and protect the wild places and native species that the owners care about.

While residents of New Hampshire, the Fenertys also own property on a State Heritage Fish water near Rangeley, Maine, and owner Jeff Fenerty is an avid brook trout fly fisher. 

Heritage Waters IPA took second place in the New England IPA category at the 25th annual Great International Beer, Cider, Mead & Sake Competition on Nov. 4, 2023, in Norwalk, Connecticut.

Heritage Waters IPA is available in stores across northern New England, as well as at Northwoods Brewing’s brewery, pub and restaurant, where it can be purchased in tall-can four-packs or fresh out of the keg on tap.

 I have found Heritage Waters IPA as far north as Monson and as far south as coastal southern Maine. While it is available from Hannaford’s in New Hampshire, the stores in Maine have yet to stock it, which is something we hope to see in the near future.

If you need help finding Heritage Waters IPA or might be interested in carrying it in your retail or hospitality business, please reach out to Matt Bolduc at Central Distributors at mbolduc@centraldistributors.com .

Sales of Heritage Waters IPA have already raised more than $6,500 for Native Fish Coalition and conservation efforts. The indirect benefits of increasing awareness about Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters, wild native brook trout, Maine’s fishing and Native Fish Coalition far eclipse the monetary contribution.

Northwoods Brewing has also provided Native Fish Coalition with a venue for presenting Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters and wild native fish conservation.

That an out-of-state based company recognized the importance of Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters speaks volumes. It shows the potential reach of this resource.  

You can purchase Heritage Waters IPA at retailers throughout Maine. And if your local store doesn’t carry it, ask them to do so in support of our State Heritage Fish waters, wild native fish, Native Fish Coalition and a family-owned business that cares enough to step up in support of all the above. 

This is what a good corporate citizen looks like. Northwoods Brewing doesn’t have to do this. It takes extra effort to put it all together, and the effort they have put in is extensive, exceptional and commendable.

Special thanks to Jeff, Becky and Sarah, and the folks at Northwoods Brewing Company for stepping up in support of wild native fish, Maine’s State Heritage Fish waters and Native Fish Coalition. 

Bob Mallard is the former owner of Kennebec River Outfitters and a Registered Maine Fishing Guide. Bob can be reached at BobMallard.com or Info@BobMallard.com.

Get the Rest of the Story

Thank you for reading your 4 free articles this month. To continue reading, and support local, rural journalism, please subscribe.