Ticks & Beer; how UMaine Alumni are teaming up for a cause

Tired of ticks? Raise a glass at Orono Brewing Company to support tick research featuring Alumni Jim Dill ’72, ’74G and Abe Furth ’07

News release

Jan. 18, 2024

Written by: Ashley Yates, News Writer

Contact: Shelby Hartin, 207.581.3745; shelby.hartin@maine.edu

Orono Brewing Company is serving one of Maine’s pest experts Jim Dill twice by brewing his favorite style of beer and donating to tick research. The new JD Brown Ale, which is inspired by and named after Dill, University of Maine Cooperative Extension pest management specialist, will be tapped and served at both OBC locations in Orono and Bangor starting Jan. 18.

Abe Furth, an owner of OBC, said kegs and cases will also be distributed throughout Maine to restaurants and stores, helping spread awareness of Dill’s outreach at the UMaine Extension Tick Lab. OBC will also donate $500 to the lab to support tick research and improve outdoor recreation safety in Maine.

The Tick Lab, which studies tick samples and compiles data, reports that the prevalence of ticks has expanded in the past couple decades. By spreading higher rates of lyme disease in Maine than in any other state, ticks remain a health risk to residents, livestock and pets. A report from the lab shows the largest tick population is in Hancock County, home of Acadia National Park.

Given the recent uptick in the pest’s presence, Furth said he and his partners, all avid outdoorsmen and UMaine alumni, want to support the lab’s research and Dill’s work with the university.

“It’s fun to work with somebody that’s been as big of a part of the university as Jim has, and to be living in a small town, being able to join forces and have him be a part of something we’re passionate about,” Furth said. “And then being able to celebrate the work he’s done and try to help support that lab in our own way with a small donation.”

The brown ale is a classic English style malt, roasted to a rich brown color. Dill said he encouraged the four founders and owners of OBC to brew a brown ale — one of Dill’s personal favorites — and they suggested a donation to the tick lab in turn.

“I said, ‘I think it might be popular, especially if people know it’s going to support tick education outreach, because everybody hates ticks,’” Dill said.

Furth plans to bring the beer back once every year in a similar sized, small batch and continue annual donations to the Tick Lab.