“It’s not a bad problem to have,” he said in reference to an increased demand for his beer.
And its Smith’s plans for expansion in 2012 that keep him looking towards the preverbal ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’
Smith is in the process of growing into a new 17,000 square foot location — over four times the size of his current space. The build out, which will include 3100 square feet for growler filling, will allow him to pump out 4,000 barrels of beer in his first 12 months — twice his current output.
But unlike other breweries that can ramp up production to fill forecasted orders, Smith will have to strategically plan his move in 2012 so as not to interrupt beer production.
“We have to really start from scratch,” he said. “We had to buy a building and initially we will put in a brand new brewhouse, two fermenters and bright tank. Once that is running smoothly, we can transfer our existing fermentation tanks into the new space.”
Moving in this way will allow Smith to continue production in his current facility, keep distributors stocked with beer and make any necessary adjustments to the new equipment.
The move, slated for mid-2012, was backed by a collective financing program Smith coined the ‘Good Beer Investment Program.’ The initiative, which allowed fans to buy purchase $1,000 worth of redeemable brewery vouchers, gave Smith working capital to get started on his expansion.
“I just received a check in the mail from our 86th investor this week,” he said. “It’s been a great shot in the arm and allowed us to make this move.”
But with the move nearly a year away, Smith is still struggling to keep thirsty distributors stocked with his core lineup of brews after producing 50 percent more of his current seasonal release, Big Hop Harvest Ale, than he did in 2010.
“We have been stocking our distributors with what we have,” he said. “The irony here is that we have reached a size where we can do these specialty beers and yet we have trouble producing them sometimes because we don’t have the capacity to meet demand. “
Despite the capacity issues, East End Brewing is up over 40 percent this year and now boasts over 100 on-premise accounts.