Maine has taken its own twist on curling, combining The Maine Brew Bus tour with a curling lesson from the Pine Tree Curling Club of Portland. Credit: Courtesy of David Chick for The Maine Brew Bus

The Maine Brew Bus is trying a new combination on its tours: beer tastings following a lesson in curling. You know, that sport that the Norwegian team brought into the spotlight when it worked flashy pants during the past several Winter Olympic games.

Designer pants aren’t a prerequisite for the Curling and Brew Tour, which runs once a month. The next tour is 10 a.m. Friday, Nov. 9. One plus: that’s during Portland Beer Week, Nov. 4-10.

“We’re pretty laid back,” said Greg Klein, group sales coordinator for The Maine Brew Bus, which tours breweries, distilleries and wineries, mostly around Portland.

The once a month tour starts with a one hour curling lesson, including learning special curling terminology like “house,” the circles toward which the curling stone is directed. Members of the Pine Tree Curling Club of Portland give the lessons at the William B. Troubh Ice Arena (formerly the Portland Ice Arena) on Park Avenue.

Klein said tour participants see a video before they get onto the ice, where they then learn to sweep, use different tools and keep score.

“It’s enough to get their feet wet,” he said. Some people get hooked and take more lessons later.

After the lesson, it’s off to a couple different local breweries. The tour includes Savory Hand Pie from Ten Ten Pie in Portland. Prices start at $65 per person.

Seats are going fast, Klein said, with eight of the 13 available spots already booked.

The Maine Brew Bus has other themed tours, including a series during the inaugural season of the Maine Mariners hockey team. The Malts and Mariners Tours are held before home games on Fridays and Sundays throughout the season, with the next event on Friday, Nov. 2, starting at 4 p.m. The price, which includes a game ticket just off of center ice, is $70.

No ‘rumba’ for robotic vacuum under Trump tariffs

Roomba robotic vacuum maker iRobot of Bedford, Massachusetts, said it will be hurt by the 10 percent tariffs on $200 million worth of Chinese goods that went into effect at the end of September.

The company’s CEO and co-founder Colin Angle told financial analysts Wednesday on a call following its third quarter earnings report that he expects iRobot will take a $5 million hit to operating income this year resulting from last month’s imposition of the tariff on all vacuum cleaners manufactured in China.

So far the company hasn’t passed along the extra cost of the tariff to consumers, but Angle didn’t rule out doing so in the future, as well as trying to reduce costs.

The September duties are scheduled to increase to 25 percent by Jan. 1, 2019.

The tariffs on Chinese imports make it more expensive for iRobot to manufacture the Roomba vacuum and other products like pool cleaners.

CNBC said iRobot wasn’t the only company talking tariffs during a heavy week of company earnings reports. Talk of tariffs dominated earnings calls, with more than a third of companies that reported through Tuesday explicitly discussing or answering questions about tariffs, according to CNBC.

International trade deficit rises in September

The U.S. trade deficit rose $600 million in September to $76 billion over August of this year, according to advance numbers from the U.S.Census Bureau released Oct. 25.

Exports of goods for September were $141 billion, $2.5 billion more than August exports.

Imports of goods for September were $217, up $3.1 billion from August.

The U.S. Census Bureau plans to release the October 2018 advance report on Nov. 28.

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