New Belgium: No Initial Plans to Can in Asheville

By now, you’ve probably already heard that New Belgium will be building a second location in Asheville, NC.

The Fort Collins, Colo.-based company is one of four regional craft breweries — those producing more than 15,000 barrels annually — to announce secondary locations this year. The others – Sierra Nevada, Victory Brewing and Lagunitas – have all projected the new capacity will come online before 2015. Victory and Lagunitas will bring their new capacity online in 2013, Sierra Nevada in 2014.

For New Belgium, the initial 400,000 barrel capacity is scheduled to come online in 2015.

We caught up with Jenn Vervier, the director of strategic planning and sustainability for New Belgium, and she dished some additional details about the Asheville project.

Brewbound: What does capacity look like once things get going in 2015?

Jenn Vervier: In 2015, we will have a slow ramp up in Asheville. We anticipate having around 100,000 barrels of production that first year in Asheville, could be more or less depending on how things go, but the total capacity will be about 400,000 barrels.

BB: And how about ‘theoretical capacity?’

JV: The total site capacity is around 700,000 barrels. In Fort Collins we can get up to about 900,000.

BB: What kind of equipment are we talking about in Asheville?

JV: We plan to install a 200 barrel brewhouse. We are still working out the details on layout and equipment but we plan to have draught and bottling capabilities initially. We will look to add canning later and that could happen within a couple years of commissioning the plant.

BB: Take us through the selection process a bit. When did you start looking for a second location and why did you end up selecting Asheville?

JV: We started looking in 2009, initially on the west coast. We stopped looking on the west coast in the spring of 2010 and in the fall of 2010 we began focusing our search in the east. We selected Asheville based on overall operating economics. From a shipping perspective the mid-Atlantic makes a lot of sense. Property tax, income tax, labor rate and utilities in the northeast made it cost prohibitive for us to go there. Additionally it was important to us to find a space that was close to a vibrant downtown area where employees could visit.

BB: And the investment? How is it being funded?

JV: The total investment is about $175 million, but the initial phase will be around $100 million. The project is being fueled by reinvested profits and conventional bank debt with Wells Fargo.

BB: When can we expect New Belgium to add new markets?

JV: We are waiting until we have the capacity. We are in a bit of a holding pattern because we are approaching our production limitations here in Fort Collins. We are adding Michigan this fall and that is pretty much it until the new brewery goes online.

BB: What is the biggest takeaway, for New Belgium, with the new project?

JV: We are extremely excited about the next phase of our growth. It’s a great opportunity for us to take all the lessons we have learned in Fort Collins and start from scratch. Additionally, we hope to have a liason on the ground rather quickly so that we can start developing relationships with the community.

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