It’s been nearly 18 months in the making, but Brew Hub is finally ready to open the doors to its Lakeland, Fla. brewery.
The company — founded by former Anheuser-Busch executive Tim Schoen and majority-owned by Yucaipa Companies, the private equity firm started by billionaire Ron Burkle — has installed a 100-barrel brewhouse and is now taking its brewing and fermentation equipment for a test drive, Schoen told Brewbound.
With a focus on “partner brewing,” Brew Hub, which is aiming to build four additional locations throughout the U.S., has already inked contract brewing agreements with four craft beer companies: Cigar City Brewing, Green Man Brewing, BJ’s Restaurants and Orange Blossom Pilsner LLC. The company hopes to rollout the first commercial beers, made at its Florida brewery, in early October.
“We are still in the testing phase,” said Schoen, the company’s CEO. “We’re testing all of the sensors and we’re planning a ‘water brew’ in the next 10 days.”
The company had initially projected a June opening for the brewing facility, but the delay was “a function of construction, engineering and installation taking longer than expected,” Schoen said.
“It comes down to the sophistication of the equipment and the complexity of everything we put in the building,” he noted.
Nevertheless, plenty of beer will be available at its Sept. 4 grand opening, Schoen said. Brew Hub plans to purchase beer from its partner brewers and serve up test brews from the company’s 8-barrel pilot brewing system. The event will also feature a variety of “guest brews” from breweries that are “not currently” producing beer under contract at Brew Hub, Schoen said.
Brew Hub also hopes to debut a new mobile application, which will be integrated with its point-of-sale system, during the public opening. The app, which will allow tasting room visitors to order beer and lookup product information will also be further developed to include a survey component.
“Ultimately the plan is the use the app to gather some qualitative and quantitative consumer data,” said Schoen.
“We want to know more about the disposition of a craft consumer coming into a multi-craft environment with multiple brands,” he said. “What are they thinking about? Do they like it? Why do they like it?”
If successful, Brew Hub would look to provide not only its brewing partners but also distributors and retailers with valuable consumer insight.
When asked about the timeline for announcing the next Brew Hub location, Schoen simply said they’re “close.” The company is currently eyeing locations in the Northeast and the Midwest and will announce at least one of those sites before the end of the year.
“I don’t think it is a secret that those are the priorities right now,” he said. “Behind that would be the Southwest [in the] Texas area, and the West.”
Schoen said that Brew Hub plans to announce additional contract partners in the coming months.