Devils Backbone to Embark on Major Expansion

Looking to become a “significant regional player,” Virginia-based Devils Backbone Brewing Co. is setting its sights on the 100,000-barrel club.

In the next 18 months, the company — which only began bottling and kegging its products for regional distribution in 2012 — will install a 120-barrel brewhouse by next sumer in an effort to accommodate rapid growth.

The expansion project will increase Devils Backbone’s theoretical production capacity to about 100,000 barrels and the brewery is capable of being scaled to 275,000 barrels, said brewery COO Hayes Humphreys.

“We intend to fill that capacity,” added Humphreys. “We’re going to be a pretty big player on the east coast.”

Devils Backbone, which currently produces its beer on a 30-barrel brewing system, recently finished building a new 18,000 sq. ft. packaging hall and installed a canning line. That expansion, Humphreys said, was necessary in order to meet the immediate regional demand.

Currently, the brewery’s distribution footprint includes its home state of Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. It’s also looking to add West Virginia this year.

But to enter the 100,000-barrel club, Devils Backbone will need to grow its production substantially. And, if current sales trends are any indication, the brewery shouldn’t have much trouble getting there.

“We feel pretty confident that, next year alone, we’re going to exceed our current cap,” said Humphreys.

In 2013, just the company’s second year of full-scale production, volumes grew 150 percent to 25,000 barrels. This year, the brewery is forecasting “north of 45,000” barrels, said Humphreys.

But the rapid growth has taken many company executives by surprise, Humphreys said. In fact, Devils Backbone’s initial business plan called for 30,000 barrels of annual production by year 10.

“We’ve struggled to keep up [with the demand] for sure, from every standpoint,” said Humphreys. “Everyone responds with, ‘That’s a great problem to have.’ It’s certainly better than the alternative.”

 

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