Having reached the 50,000-barrel threshold in just its fourth year of operation, Chicago’s Revolution Brewing is preparing to dig deeper in its home market by expanding its production facility and tripling capacity.
Backed by bank and small business loans, the brewery has announced plans to install a 120-barrel brewhouse and several 800-barrel fermenters this summer — boosting capacity to 300,000 barrels — as the company expands into a neighboring space in its current building.
Revolution doesn’t have any immediate plans to expand its distribution footprint with the added capacity. Instead, the brewery intends to deepen its roots at home in Illinois.
“Tell the distributors to stop calling for a little while,” brewery founder Josh Deth told Brewbound, half in jest. “We’re going to use the capacity first to make more beer for the home market. I think there’s a lot of opportunity still here.”
Revolution currently sells approximately 90 percent of its beer in the Chicago area, and has a small presence in Ohio. Despite growing fast as it has and having more scalable resources than most players in Chicago’s craft market, the company has been faced with limitations on how its products are distributed throughout the marketplace, a problem the company seeks to solve through expansion.
“When you’re at max capacity, you have to manage it and part of growing is a choice,” said Deth. “At some point, accounts start growing and you don’t have capacity. That’s the alternative, to start cutting off accounts on the fringes and support the existing accounts that are growing, and that’s not something we wanted to do.”
Though the company’s flagship Anti-Hero IPA has to date carried its water — the beer accounted for roughly 55 percent of overall production in 2014 — Revolution also now plans to add for the first time another hoppy, year-round offering to its canned lineup in Fist City, a pale ale.
Additionally, the company plans to build behind its Hero series, a rotating cast of brews meant to contrast with its dreadnought, Anti-Hero. To grow the series, Deth said, the plan is to land a Hero handle in a given bar and rotate the offering behind it six times throughout the year.
“We’re looking for a lot of growth in that,” he added.
Looking forward, the company projects selling up to 80,000 barrels in 2015, which would represent 60 percent growth, though those projections may vary depending on who in the company you ask.
“We have a betting pool,” said Deth. “My wife, the CFO, is on the low end. Donn [Bichsel], the sales guy, is on the high end.”