Destihl Brewery Bets on Growth of Sour Beer


Illinois’ Destihl Brewery is making a multi-million dollar bet on growing consumer interest in sour beer.

Slated to open in early 2017, Destihl plans to build a 47,000 sq. ft. brewing facility in Normal, Illinois that will feature a “highly specialized ‘dual’ 60-barrel and 120-barrel brewhouse” designed to accommodate increased production of the company’s line of kettle-soured beers.

Financed through a combination of equity and bank debt, the new $14 million facility will sit on six acres of land and include an expanded oak barrel aging room, packaging hall, and warehouse, as well as a 6,300 sq. ft. taproom and event space. The new facility will also include an outdoor beer garden and corporate offices.

Destihl, which already employs 180 people between its two brewpubs in Normal and Champaign and its current production brewery in Bloomington, expects to add 70 new jobs.

The company also has the option to purchase an adjacent six acres of land for future expansion, according to a press statement.

The focus of the new brewery, however, is an oversized brewhouse that was engineered by Wisconsin’s W.M. Sprinkman Corp. and will be capable of producing 150,000 barrels annually — more than 10 times the amount of beer Destihl plans to make in 2016.

“I don’t want to have to move again,” founder and CEO Matt Potts told Brewbound. “We wanted a brewhouse that had some flexibility.”


That flexibility to will enable the company to expand production of its popular “Wild Sour” line of beers, which now accounts for 65 percent of total production.

“We’re so invested in sour beers,” Potts said. “The Wild Sour line is more equipment-intensive for us and we also need a larger footprint for barrel-aging.”

Destihl, which opened its first brewpub location in 2007, began producing sour beers in 2008. Those offerings are typically barrel-aged for many months and spontaneously soured with a wild, proprietary yeast strain Destihl cultivated itself.

For six years, those sour offerings were only available at Destihl’s brewpubs or at beer fests. So when the company expanded into its current 20,000 sq. ft. production facility in 2013, one of Potts’ goals was to create a line of affordable, canned sour beers that had a quicker turnaround time and still featured Destihl’s wild microflora.

“We still love and are very focused on our barrel-aged sour beer program,” he said. “But we are designing this brewhouse for the Wild Sour series; it has done wonders for us to have a more accessible sour beer.”

Now available in 13 states, demand for the Wild Sour line — which retails for about $9.99 per 4-pack — spiked in 2015 and Destihl struggled to fulfill orders, Potts said. The new facility, which will have about 30,000 barrels of fermentation capacity on day one, will enable the company to continue growing sales of the Wild Sour line while simultaneously allowing it to diversify its portfolio with expanded production of more traditional beer styles, Potts said.

But sour beer will still be the primary focus.

“We want to be known for that,” he said. “if we weren’t proclaiming it loud enough before, I guess we will be now.”