It’s been 16 months since craft brewery veteran John Bryant joined the Spokane, Wash.-based No-Li Brewhouse operation, formally known as Northern Lights Brewing Company, helping to rebrand the 19-year old company as one that offers “fib-free ales.”
Bryant, who served as the president of Oskar Blues Brewing prior to investing in and becoming a co-owner of No-Li, re-launched the company last April with a modern look and more contemporary offerings like Silent Treatment Pale Ale and Born & Raised IPA.
After hand-selling an impressive 540 cases of 22 oz. ‘bombers’ throughout Spokane and Northern Idaho in just three weeks, Bryant turned his attention to the national stage. He expanded distribution of the brand to Portland, Ore., Colorado, Maryland, Delaware, Washington D.C and also began exporting to Sweden.
Now, with No-Li’s successful rebrand and relaunch in the rearview, Bryant said the brewery will focus on continuing its rapid growth.
The brewery will install two 60-barrel fermenters and one 60-barrel bright beer tank this week and has also purchased a newer, more efficient 30-barrel brewing system that should yield bigger batch sizes, Bryant said.
“The new equipment should get us to about 6,000 barrels this year,” said Bryant. That’s up from 2,400 last year and just 1,200 in 2011.
While the company has expanded its distribution to a host of new markets, Bryant said most of the growth is still occurring at the local level.
“About 50 percent of our beer is still sold in the greater Spokane area and 80 percent of it stays in Washington,” he said. “Our rate of sale at the on-premise level has doubled from 14 months ago.”
No-Li will soon introduce 12 oz. versions of its “Imperial Series” offerings – Jet Star Imperial IPA and Wrecking Ball Imperial Stout – in a 4-pack that Bryant said will retail between $9.99 – $11.99.
“We are at a crossroads as a brewery,” said Bryant. “When you choose the ‘imperial’ path, you have to understand that the consumer is drinking less. That is one of the reasons why we opted for the 4-pack. We are accepting the lower velocity but also some of the prestige that comes with a 4-pack, and you can thank breweries like Dogfish Head and Green Flash for creating that.”
Bryant said he’s also researching the viability of packaging some of No-Li’s flagship offerings in a 16.9 oz. glass bottle, a style known as a ‘pounder.’
“It’s unique and a great on-premise package, but it is expensive and might not be something we can pull off,” he said.
Bryant said he also plans to expand distribution to Ohio before the end of the year and is currently evaluating potential wholesale partners. No-Li anticipates 2013 revenue will eclipse $3.8 million, including restaurant sales, Bryant said.