California’s Napa Smith Brewery has announced a two-pronged expansion plan that will include the construction of a new multi-million dollar production facility in Vallejo, Calif. as well as the addition of shared brewing capacity at Turtle Anarchy Brewing in Nashville, Tenn.
In a press release, the company, which expects to produce just 6,000 barrels of beer in 2016, called itself the “smallest independent bicoastal operation in North America.”
The decision to expand production capabilities in two different time zones, it said, was driven by capacity constraints at its current facility in Napa and a desire to deliver fresh beer to more markets.
Napa Smith — a wholly owned subsidiary of Nashville-based wine, spirits and beer supplier, R.S. Lipman Company — plans to maintain a presence in Napa but will likely vacate its current brewery and taproom at 1 Executive Way, according to R.S. Lipman owner and CEO Robert Lipman.
The company’s Vallejo brewery, located just off Highway 80, will span 36,000 sq. ft. and will initially be capable of producing about 10,000 barrels, Mr. Lipman said. Capacity could eventually triple, he added, and the space will also include a taproom.
Specific investment figures were not disclosed.
In Tennessee, meanwhile, R.S. Lipman Company plans to expand production of Napa Smith beers as well as its other line of ‘Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Beers’ via a “cooperative partnership” with Turtle Anarchy Brewing Company.
R.S. Lipman Company has purchased brewing and bottling equipment that will be housed inside of Turtle Anarchy’s Nashville brewery location, Mr. Lipman said, and the two companies will jointly occupy the “shared” brewing space.
“It is a unique type of arrangement,” he said. “We are supervising and brewing on a co-op basis.”
Mr. Lipman said that both Napa Smith and Hap & Harry’s beers would be brewed using Turtle Anarchy’s brewing license.
R.S. Lipman plans to open Napa Smith’s Vallejo brewery before the end of the year and begin producing beer in Tennessee as early as this month, it said.
“It’s exciting to see the explosion of craft beer across the United States,” Napa Smith master brewer Don Barkley said via a release. “Working with other brewers to expand and promote good beer is a joy. There aren’t too many careers that span 40 years and culminate in this fashion. I feel very fortunate to be a part of Napa Smith’s plans for expansion.”
Barkley, one of the most experienced brewers in the U.S., began making beer in 1978 at the legendary new Albion Brewery and also co-founded the Mendocino Brewing Company.
The history of Napa Smith Brewery is convoluted and the circumstances leading up to Mr. Lipman’s sole proprietorship are still somewhat unclear. Mr. Lipman would eventually come to wholly own the company in early 2015, he said, after making a number of investments in exchange for equity over a period of at least two years.
“I had a minority position in it (Napa Smith) and I saw an opportunity,” Mr. Lipman told Brewbound. “Over the last couple of years, I invested in it, purchasing new equipment and building up the business.”
The brewery was originally founded in 2008 by Napa-area real estate developer Kathleen Smith. When Smith ran into financial troubles in September 2010, Napa Smith Brewery filed for Chapter 7 business bankruptcy protection. The business was then sold to the Pelican Brands investment group led by beverage entrepreneur and former Republic National Distributing Company CFO J. Smoke Wallin. Earlier in the year, Napa Smith had appointed Pelican Brands as its exclusive sales representatives in the U.S.
At the time of Pelican’s purchase of Napa Smith, Wallin pledged that the company’s products would be available nationally “by the summer of 2011.” The brand, which had at one time been sold in 17 U.S. states, is now distributed in just 10 states and a handful of international markets.
According to AngelList, Mr. Lipman was an early investor in Paddington, a business that Wallin, according to his LinkedIn profile, served as Chairman and CEO until December 2012. Around the same time, Wallin became the managing director for Lipman Brands, a position he held while also serving as the CEO of Napa Smith Holdings, until November 2013.
According to a company boilerplate, R.S. Lipman began “creating and acquiring brands to build a diverse alcohol portfolio” in 2011. Mr. Lipman originally founded the R.S. Lipman Company in 1994 as a way of expanding into non-alcoholic and beer distribution, beverage production and eventually cigar distribution.
In addition to owning and producing a variety of alcoholic beverage brands via R.S. Lipman, Mr. Lipman also owns a Lipman Brothers distribution business that sells hundreds of beer, wine and spirits brands. The company was founded as a liquor and wine distributor in 1939 and Mr. Lipman, a third generation owner, purchased the business in 1988.