The $3 million project, backed by bank loans and cash flow, is expected to be complete in 2015. The expansion, said brewery founder Patrick Rue, will put capacity at around 20,000 barrels, up from the approximately 10,000 it rolled out last year.
But numbers are secondary here, he added.
“Production numbers don’t mean that much to me,” he said. “It’s more quality motivated than anything else.”
To that end, the brewery is retiring its manual 15-barrel brewhouse, which was “kind of a Frankenstein system,” added Rue, in favor of a semi-automated GEA Huppmann Craft-Star brewhouse. It’s the smallest system Craft-Star has ever produced — it usually deals in brewhouses of 150,000 barrels or more — but will allow the brewery to brew between 20 and 35 barrels of wort per batch, according to a statement from the company.
The GEA Westfalia Centrifuge it will be receiving “will clarify beer prior to bottling, kegging or racking into a barrel while maintaining flavor and aroma,” the statement adds.
Lastly, the brewery’s new bottling line — a Krones 16-head Kosme — will reduce levels of dissolved oxygen in the company’s bottled beers by 10 to 15 times, while running five times faster than its current system.
On top of increasing efficiency and boosting quality, Rue added the expansion will be “environmentally beneficial.”
“We love our equipment,” he said.
As quality comes ahead of the numbers, Rue said before adding new markets to its current 24-state footprint, the brewery will make sure its current markets are taken care of first throughout the expansion process.
“I think we want to give our current markets an opportunity to grow first,” he said.
Currently, The Bruery’s top performing markets — outside of its home market where it is most successful — are Chicago, Virginia, Maryland, D.C. and Colorado, he said.
Rue did add, however, that in 2015, “we’re probably looking at three to five new markets.”