Figueroa Mountain Brewing, one of California’s faster-growing, but relatively unknown, craft breweries, has announced a slew of expansion plans that include a new international presence, adding three new taprooms and turning over distribution rights to a local beer wholesaler.
The company plans to start contract brewing in Germany within six months while it searches for a location to build its own scalable production facility and brewpub in the Bavarian region of the country.
A definitive timeline for the launch of Figueroa’s German brewery is unclear, though the company’s European ambitions mirror those in place at its home of Buellton, said brewery president Jaime Dietenhofer.
“We have to make sure it’s calculated and scaled to our size,” said Dietenhofer. “We’ll start off as a small regional brewery and can grow from there and test the market. Maybe that’s more tied into a 15-barrel system with multiple fermenters just like we started over here and if we need to add capacity we will.”
Dietenhofer could not say precisely how much the expansion will cost, but said that while “not cheap by any means,” the brewery won’t be matching Stone Brewing’s $25 million investment into the creation of a new facility in Berlin.
“We’re not Stone,” he said, comparing his company’s German aspirations to that of the country’s tenth largest craft brewer, which plans to operate its own state-of-the-art brewery in the country by 2016.
Capital for the brewery in Germany will likely come in two ways, Dietenhofer said. In addition to its own investment, he added, the company has discussed the possibility of bringing on new, international partners.
Figueroa hopes not only to introduce its American-style beers to Europe, but also to gain insight from Germany’s stylistic and business differences and apply those lessons back on American soil.
“One of the things we’re really happy about, we wanted to be this kind of university for our brewers and staff,” said Dietenhofer. “We can send them overseas and vice versa, bring staff from Germany to us and kind of cross-pollinate.”
Figueroa is expanding at home as well, as it’s now investing close to $6 million in the launches of three new taprooms on top of the three the company already operates.
Its new Santa Maria taproom is slated to open on November 22. The Westlake Village and Arroyo Grande locations are scheduled to open in December and January, respectively. Both will be equipped with in-house breweries capable of producing 1,500 barrels per year.
Given the food component that is planned for those two, Figueroa has partnered with Milano Restaurant Group to help finance the project.
Lastly, the brewery is also relinquishing its self-distribution rights and partnering up with a wholesaler at home so it can focus more intently on production.
Having recently reached the 20,000-barrel per year benchmark, the company has signed an agreement with Pacific Beverage Company for coverage throughout the Central Coast in Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, and Ventura counties.
Up until now, the four-year-old brewery, which is located somewhere in the middle of San Luis Obispo and Orange County, has self-distributed throughout that approximate 225-mile stretch.
Current Figueroa sales and distribution staff will take on new roles within the company. Brand director Kady Fleckenstein told Brewbound that sales representatives would take on new roles as market reps, while the brewery is working to find roles within the company for drivers.
“We’re encouraging everyone to stay with the company,” she said,
Though this is the largest distribution partnership the brewery has entered, it’s not the first; in San Diego, Craft Beer Guild Distributing sells the brand.
On the horizon, Figueroa has plans to expand distribution to the Central Valley and Bay area in 2016.
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that Pacific Beverage Company distributed Figueroa products in Orange County.