Santa Fe Brewing Plans a $12 Million ‘Phased Expansion’

New Mexico’s Santa Fe Brewing is about to embark on a phased expansion project that could take three years and cost upwards of $14 million.

Brian Lock, the company’s owner and president said his business has grown between 20 and 30 percent over each of the last four years, sees nothing but opportunity not only for the craft beer industry but also his own brand.

“We are seeing a pretty consistent trend of growth and in order to keep up and sustain that growth, I have to expand,” he told Brewbound. “I am a believer that if you aren’t growing, you’re dying, and I feel like this is the right step to take.”

It’s a familiar move for Lock who, in 1996, made a bet on a craft beer segment that was much smaller than today’s $10 billion dollar valuation. Lock, along with three other investors, purchased the brewery from its original founder, Michael Levis, and immediately began making changes. The group moved the brewery closer to downtown Santa Fe, increased capacity and began expanding the company’s distribution footprint.

Seven years later, Lock went all-in, buying out his three partners to become Santa Fe’s sole proprietor.

“Looking back, it was probably one of the better decisions I have ever made,” he said.

Fast-forward 10 years, and Lock is hoping that his next move will pay similar dividends. Beginning in 2015, Santa Fe will break ground on the first phase of its expansion, approximately a $3 million undertaking, Lock said.

The company acquired 3.27 acres of property adjacent to its existing brewing facility and hopes to add nearly 20,000 sq. ft. of packaging and storage space, which will include the addition of a new, high-speed canning, line.

“The canning line is really where we are pinched in capacity,” Lock said. “With the addition of a centrifuge and that high speed canning line, we should be able to turn our fermenters much quicker and increase capacity up to 50,000 barrels.”

The second phase of the expansion would begin in 2016 and would include the construction of a new fermentation hall, Lock said.

“If needed, we could install 300, 600 or 900-barrel fermentation tanks,” he said.

The final phase of the expansion — which would include the installation of a new four-vessel, 30-barrel brewhouse — wouldn’t begin until 2017 and is contingent upon Santa Fe’s continued sales growth, Lock said.

“Most of it has been predominantly from existing markets,” he said.

Santa Fe’s beers are currently sold in eight states: New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Colorado, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma.

“We were up 38 percent in New Mexico last year,” Lock said.

Despite the limited distribution, Lock said he believes Santa Fe Brewing could one day be sold in all 50 states.

“It wouldn’t be overnight but in 7-10 years, I could see it as a national brand,” he said.

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