It’s been two years since Atwater Brewing first expressed its intent to build a production facility in Austin, and now the Detroit-based craft brewery is making good on its promise to expand operations outside of Michigan.
But it’s not happening at the facility Atwater founder Mark Reith had originally been eyeing. That location fell through “about one year ago,” he told Brewbound.
Instead Atwater, together with Flemish Fox Brewery & Craftworks, a soon-to-launch beer company founded by Christine Celis of “Celis Beer” fame, jointly formed a new company and will collaboratively construct a 27,000 sq. ft. facility capable of producing upwards of 60,000 barrels per year.
“Why build two plants when you can build one great one and share people and processes,” he said.
A yet-to-be-named joint entity will own the real estate and the brewery assets, Reith said. Official investment details were not disclosed, but Reith said the multi-million project would be financed through a combination of debt and equity and that multiple investors, in addition to Flemish Fox and Atwater, are involved.
Situated on three acres, the new brewery will feature “state-of-the-art production equipment, a “spacious” tasting room, outdoor beer garden and entertainment venue as well as a museum featuring historic brewing equipment.
Christine Celis’ father, Pierre Celis, created the famous Hoegaarden Belgian witbier beer brand now owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. Mr. Celis later founded the Celis Brewery in Austin, an endeavor that Christine oversaw until 2002 when the company was acquired by the since-shuttered Michigan Brewing Company.
Total Beverage Solutions (TBS) acquired the Celis label in late 2013 and currently produces the brand under contract at Two Roads Brewing in Stratford, Conn., according to product labels.
Flemish Fox will not produce beers under the Celis name at the new location, but instead “brew original Celis family recipes while incorporating some of the same yeast strains, methods and processes used at Pierre Celis’ first brewery in Hoegaarden, Belgium to revive witbier in Austin, Texas,” according to a press statement.
“Brewing is a part of my being,” Christine Celis said in the release. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be opening this new brewery to carry on my father’s legacy of brewing legendary beers. Not only will we brew beer as it was in the 1900s, but also will introduce new, innovative beer styles that both craft beer enthusiasts and casual beer drinkers will love. We will focus on quality and consistency as we have in the past to produce superior quality hand-crafted beers and ales.”
The new facility is slated to open in early 2017, Reith added.
“We’ve been very careful when it comes to growing our production footprint, but this opportunity was too good to pass,” he said via a press statement. “Texas is an incredibly important market for Atwater and the opportunity to work alongside Flemish Fox and the Celis family offers meaningful benefits.”
In addition to the Austin project, Atwater is also planning March and April rollouts in New York, New Jersey and Georgia. Soon to be distributed in 25 states, Atwater hopes to be selling 200,000 barrels of beer annually by 2020, Reith said.