February 28, 2018

Arctic beer with 'message' for Trump to spice up Sunaana festival

Photo / Renee Cordes
Photo / Renee Cordes
Patrick Arnold is a co-founder of the Sunaana Winter Music Festival Friday and Saturday in Portland, which aims to attract 2,000 visitors in its second edition at Thompson's Point.

Arctic craft beers from Norway will spice up this weekend's Sunaana Winter Music Festival in Portland, one of which contains a cheeky note to President Donald Trump on the label.

Mack Brewery and Graff Microbrewery, both based north of the Arctic Circle in the 64,000-population city of Tromso, will participate in at Sunaana with first-release beers, including 2,000 bottles of Mack's IPA on Tour.

Taking liquid diplomacy to a new level, the label contains a response to Trump's reported statement about wanting more immigrants from Norway, politely turning him down and making a counter-offer of an American-style IPA brewed to rock music. [See below for the full text.]

"It's cheers to America," Patrick Arnold, a co-founder of Sunaana, told Mainebiz Tuesday after inspecting the shipment. "I gave the pallet a hug, I was just so excited."

The beer also has an actual guitar pick on its label, and a Spotify playlist of songs it was brewed to, which fits with the festival's music focus.

City-wide festival

On Friday and Saturday at Thompson's Point in Portland, more than 20 up-and-coming performers from Maine — and a few from Iceland — are scheduled to take the stage at Brick South.

"This is modeled after the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival, which is like the Super Bowl and Christmas for musicians in Iceland," according to Arnold.

Similar to how the Icelandic festival takes over all of Reykjavik, Arnold hopes to expand Sunaana to more venues in Portland, with pre-festival events this week at the The Thirsty Pig and Liquid Riot and the Portland Museum of Art. On Friday, Portland musician Joel Thetford will escort festival goers from Boston on the Amtrak Downeaster's special Sunaana Express featuring music and Allagash beer.

"The future of this festival, what we want this to be and to become, is city-wide," Arnold says, while underscoring that there's also no rush to do so. "It's got to be done organically."

Organizers are expecting 2,000 attendees this year, up from 1,200 during last year's debut.

Arnold, who is president of the Soli DG consulting and business development firm, co-founded Sunaana with Larus Isfeld, managing director of Icelandic-owned Eimskip USA, as well as developers Chris Thompson and Jed Troubh of Thompson's Point.

The beer portion of Sunaana, an Inuit word meaning "What is it?," this year will include an appearance by the 78-tap container known as the Maine Beer Box, with a selection of beers from Maine and out of state curated by Bissell Brothers Brewing Co.

Longer term, organizers see the festival as an opportunity to bring in off-season tourism and to promote Portland as an attractive place to live and work.

"It's events and festivals like this that leave an indelible mark on people who visit from Boston or New York," says Arnold. "They experience the city for what it is."

And what if Trump ends up tweeting about the message in a bottle from Norway?

"It would be a metric of success," Arnold says, adding, "I would send a six-pack to the White House."

Here's Mack Brewery's message to Trump

Courtesy / Patrick Arnold
Courtesy / Patrick Arnold
Mack Brewery of Norway has a special message for President Trump on the label of its limited-edition IPA on Tour beer that will make its world debut in Maine this week. “Here’s to America. Cheers,” the message concludes.

"Dear Mr. President: We Norwegians appreciate your offer for us to come live with you in America. However, being the happiest country in the world, we are more than content right here. This being said, we would love to share some of our happiness with you, as the socialists that we are. Therefore, we send you our American style IPA brewed to the great sounds of generations of pioneers within rock music. Thanks for the inspiration. Here's to America. Cheers."


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