“I’m still working on the floor of my office because I don’t have anyone to go buy me a chair, and I don’t have time to do it myself,” she said.
Since opening up last October, Gill has successfully launched an eye-catching canned package throughout Southern California, been sent a cease-and-desist letter from the folks behind the Coachella music festival and is now in the midst of a massive expansion which will bring her brewery’s capacity to 60,000 barrels.
If you think her pace is aggressive, you’re right. Anywhere else in the U.S. and this fast-forward progress might be too much. But in Los Angeles, the thirst for a locally brewed craft beer brand has swelled, leaving even Gill — who had one eye on expansion even before she opened the doors to Golden Road — struggling to keep up.
“We have been at capacity since the first week of can sales in January,” she said. “We are selling between 125 and 150 barrels per week.”
And with capacity constraints comes expansion. 13 new 300-barrel and six 200-barrel fermentation tanks are scheduled to arrive in May and a new 50-barrel brewhouse is expected for July. The brewery is also in the midst of expanding its pub space from 200 seats to 600.
The expansion couldn’t have come at a better time. Golden Road cans will soon be available throughout southern California at Ralph’s, Von’s and Albertson’s, following a launch in Whole Foods that she was videotaped calling “the largest launch in American craft beer history.”
The next ones won’t be quite so pronounced, she says.
“We will roll those out slowly, turning them on a week at a time to see how they do,” said Gill.
What’s most interesting about the growth is that, aside from 500 cases sent further south to the Indio and Palm Springs areas for the Coachella festival, all of Golden Road’s beer is staying local. The brewery has opened up 300 draught accounts in L.A. County and recently began distributing in Orange County, becoming the first non-Anheuser Busch brand included in Straub Distributing Co.’s portfolio.
Gill said she couldn’t be happier with her “AB alignment strategy,” but did say she has been “pleasantly surprised” with Allied Beverages, the only MillerCoors house Golden Road is currently distributed through.
“They have attacked the on-premise for us,” she said. “Their knowledge, account base and get-to-market strategy has been great.”
Gill also credits a talented work force for the company’s early success.
“People have been dying for a brewery in L.A., so we were able to recruit some core talent that wanted to work in the beer industry,” she said.
As for the cease-and-desist letter, it came about because Gill created promo materials using the phrase “Can-chella” to accompany the launch in Indio — they ran afoul of the sponsorship rights of Heineken, the official sponsor for the festival.
But that’s just a quick speed bump. Gill and Co. seem to be on the road to fulfilling their philosophy of being “L.A.’s brewery.” Apparently, that road moves pretty fast.