GABF Coverage: Adam Avery On Expansion And New Retail Opportunities

Don’t ask Avery Brewing Company founder Adam Avery about when he thinks his company will break ground on a planned $30 million, 5-acre expansion in Boulder, Colo.. All you’ll get in response is a resounding, “I don’t know.” caught with the brewery founder at his company’s ‘brewers’ lunch,’ where invited industry guests enjoyed catered barbecue and an array of Avery Brewing beer samples.

Avery gave a glimpse of the expansion plans, and construction is tentatively slated to start in December. The build out is expected to take nearly 18 months and Avery hopes the facility will be operational in the second quarter of 2014. Initially, the company will install a 120-barrel brewhouse and four 720-barrel fermentation tanks, with a starting capacity on day one of 100,000 barrels. Avery also said the space — which he expects to call ‘home’ for the foreseeable future – is capable of being scaled to 350,000 barrels

“We only get to build a brewery once,” Avery said. “I don’t imagine I’ll be building another brewery anytime soon.”

The space itself is Avery’s so-called ‘dream brewery,’ and Avery Brewing marketing director, Joe Osborne, said the idea is to create a monument that pays homage to the American craft brewing tradition. The architecture and design on the fa├ºade will re-create the look and feel of an older brewing facility, with a large brick archway awaiting visitors upon arrival. A 200-plus seat pub and restaurant is also in the works, something the company hopes to eventually compliment with a steakhouse on the upper level of the space.

But company culture will not change just because it’s growing up, Avery said. The brewery’s focus will remain unchanged.

“It’s just going to be a bigger version of what we have already,” he said. “It will allow us to do even more special projects because we will have a much bigger and better facility.”

As with any expansion comes a host of new retail opportunities. Ted Whitney, the brewery’s national sales director, said that he’s already been approached by a few national restaurant chains — including TGI Friday’s —who are looking to put the brand on tap. Avery felt positive about the new opportunities.

“I think you will see all the mainstream restaurant chains of America gravitating towards craft beer,” he said. “We don’t shy away from it. It’s a great opportunity for us.”

And while these new, relatively untapped opportunities are welcomed, they won’t come without their own set challenges. Avery said managing supply and curating the options available to the larger on-premise accounts chains will be critical to the brands continued success in those channels.

“We will have to tell them which beer we want them to sell,” said Avery. “It would be hard for us to allow each individual account pick any Avery product they want to put on tap.”

That’s not to say that Avery is suggesting that larger restaurant chains shouldn’t explore the variety of craft options available to them. In fact, he believes the smartest chains will be the ones that allow their General Managers to experiment. But not having distribution to all 50 states does present some limitations not just for Avery, but other craft brewers looking to grow their brands through more mainstream retail outlets.

“It is harder for a smaller brand with limited distribution to appeal to some of these chains,” he said. “Larger, more corporate restaurant chains like to have their menus consistent across all of their outlets and we have to tell them which states they are able to get our beer.”

Still, Avery believes that the new opportunities will be critical to growing the craft segment as a whole.

“The larger restaurant chains are going to have a huge effect on the craft industry,” he said. “And in order to take us to the next step, we will need the larger chains getting on board with craft.”

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