Brew Hub is dipping a toe into international waters. The Central Florida contract brewer today announced plans to begin producing beer for South Korea’s The Booth Brewing Co.
It’s Brew Hub’s first international brewing partnership and the arrangement marks the beginning of a play into an emerging international craft beer marketplace.
Brew Hub’s partnership with The Booth, which launched in Seoul in 2013 as a brewpub and produces 480 barrels of beer annually, according to a press release, will increase the smaller brewer’s output to 3,000 barrels.
Brew Hub will produce and package The Booth’s flagship beers — Kieuk Session IPA and Kukmin IPA — at its Lakeland brewing facility. The company plans to ship Booth’s beers back to South Korea, and will also begin offering export services to its other craft clients.
Brew Hub said it also plans to export its Keybilly Island Ale and other beers in its Craft Collection series to South Korea.
Brew Hub CEO Tim Schoen believes there are international distribution opportunities for Brew Hub’s 14 partner breweries, including Cigar City, Toppling Goliath and Green Man Brewing, among others.
“If we had all 14 partners signed up,” Schoen said, “they [South Korea] could get all of our brands in one stop.”
Schoen said a move into the South Korean marketplace was made with an eye toward “getting the process down and getting it right.”
If successful, Brew Hub could look to identify additional international partnerships in other countries, Schoen added.
For Booth, a deal with Brew Hub gives the company a soft entry into the U.S., a market where it is already planning to open an 18,000-barrel production brewery in California before the end of the year.
Schoen said he views The Booth’s West Coast brewery project as “incremental” growth, not “cannibalistic” to his company’s new partnership.
“In all of our deals, we are your second brewery, your third brewery,” Schoen told Brewbound.
That may soon be the case for one of its top clients, Cigar City. The Tampa-based brewery was acquired earlier this year by Oskar Blues Holding Co. (backed by private equity firm Fireman Capital Partners).
Oskar Blues, which operates breweries in Colorado, North Carolina and Texas, recently said it plans to begin brewing Cigar City’s flagship, Jai Alai IPA, at its facility in Brevard, North Carolina.
Nevertheless, Brew Hub remains “a huge part” of Cigar City’s brewing operations, Schoen said.
“That’s not going away anytime soon,” he added.
However, Schoen acknowledged that those looking from the outside in may question the stability of the partnership. He told Brewbound that the partnership with Cigar City remains collaborative, but also offered a realistic view of the future — one that could see some breweries, including Cigar City, “graduating” from Brew Hub.
Meanwhile, Brew Hub is undergoing a third round of expansion at its Lakeland, Florida, complex. The latest move increases Brew Hub’s production capacity to 130,000 barrels and includes an additional 30,000-barrels of fermentation space as well as a pasteurizer, which will allow the brewery to make cider.
The latest build out in Lakeland has put Brew Hub’s plans for a second brewery in the St. Louis suburb of Chesterfield, Missouri, on the “back burner,” Schoen told Brewbound.
“We’re trying to get St. Louis up and shovel in the ground,” he said. But he added that it likely won’t be until 2017.
“Early 2018 would be a pretty good projection,” he said. “The good news is all of this progression, expansion and learning in Lakeland will speed up the learning curve on a new facility.”
Despite the delays in St. Louis, Brew Hub’s plan to build three additional regional breweries by 2018 remains unchanged, Schoen said.