Despite ongoing capacity constraints, Cigar City Brewing managed to grow its annual production by more than 28 percent in 2014, selling over 44,000 barrels of beer, founder Joey Redner told Brewbound.
The growth was driven primarily by the brewery’s top-selling flagship, Jai Alai IPA, which accounted for more than half — about 23,000 barrels — of all barrels sold. Cigar City sold just over 5,000 barrels of its second most popular brew, Florida Cracker, Redner said.
The rest of the company’s portfolio – including seasonal and one-off releases – made up the remaining 2014 sales.
While discussing the numbers, Redner also expounded on a few other challenges his company will face in 2015 — chief among them, the continued hunt for additional space. Cigar City is still searching for a secondary brewing facility of its own and, in the meantime, has partnered with contract brewing outfit The Brew Hub to help the company continue growing at a double-digit pace.
“What the Brew Hub allows us to do is grow with capacity ahead of us as opposed to always catching up to it, the way that we’ve been doing it in the past,” Redner told Brewbound in 2013.
And with demand for his products at an all-time high, and new retail opportunities opening up daily, Redner could once again being playing catch-up.
But capacity isn’t Redner’s only concern. As Brewbound reported last week, he fears Cigar City could be in danger of losing its taproom privileges, thanks to an effort by a group of retail advocacy groups and wholesaler networks to clarify the law that enables breweries to operate taprooms in the first place. (For their part, the retailers and distributors have insisted their intent is not to strip companies of their rights.)
Cigar City is scouting potential locations in Florida, but the perceived threat of losing its retail rights also has the company zeroing in on two specific locations in North Carolina and South Carolina, which Redner visited toward the end of last year.
“It’s important for people to come to the brewery have a beer where it’s made,” said Redner.
The brewery may also soon shift more of its production to The Brew Hub, where it has been brewing Florida Cracker, Maduro, and Hotter Than Helles for about a month now, Redner said.