Georgia’s Scofflaw Brewing is on its way to having one of the most successful launches in craft beer history.
The Atlanta-based craft brewery is projecting that, after installing three 90-barrel fermentation tanks and a 90-barrel brite tank, boosting its maximum capacity to about 14,000 barrels annually, it will produce more than 8,500 barrels of beer by its first anniversary.
“Nine months ago we started with a brewery that we thought would be oversized,” Scofflaw co-founder Matt Shirah told Brewbound. “Nine months later, we have no tank space. Everything is getting pulled through. Our inventory turns weekly at our distributor, so we had to find more tanks.”
To fund its expansion, Scofflaw tapped into $500,000 from a combination of friends, family and additional founder investment, as well as cash flow, Shirah said. In addition to the new tanks, the company also purchased a centrifuge and analytical equipment that will be used in the brewery’s quality control lab, he added.
Scofflaw, which is located in an 18,000 sq. ft. production facility in the Bolton neighborhood of Atlanta, currently makes beer on a 20-barrel, four-vessel brewhouse. To date, the vast majority of its production has been kegged, despite previous attempts to offer canned beer.
“We’re fortunate to have this kind of pull,” Shirah said, noting that demand for his company’s draft products has limited the brewery’s ability to offer packaged beer for off-premise sales.
Scofflaw is selling between 100 and 120 barrels a week through United Distributors, Shirah said, and the additional capacity won’t immediately enable the company to expand availability of off-premise packages.
“The new volume is spoken for,” he said. “We’re trying to take a breather but we haven’t had a day off or so long.”
Nevertheless, the extra tank space will enable the company to rededicate four 15-barrel tanks to research-and-development.
“We spend lot of time thinking about R&D,” he said.
Since its launch last August, demand has steadily grown for Scofflaw’s portfolio of beers in Atlanta, Athens, Gainesville, Columbus, Augusta and Savannah. Shirah said Basement IPA, one of the company’s core brands, now accounts for more than half of the brewery’s production and sales while its other IPAs (POG Basement IPA and Hooligan) and double IPAs (Double Jeopardy) have also performed well.
And come September 1, when taproom sales finally become legal in Georgia (the last U.S. state to allow direct-to-consumer beer sales at breweries), Scofflaw will be faced with a new challenge as it attempts to balance sales at its tasting room while continuing to meet demand for its products being sold in bars and restaurants.
“There’s significant upside, for brewers, on margins,” Shirah said. “The ability to use those cash flows to grow our business will be a big deal.”
And in anticipation of the ability to sell directly to consumers, Shirah said the company installed 30 draft lines inside its tasting room in an effort to give visitors the “full brewery experience.”
“You have people working around you making beer,” Shirah said of his current setup. “When I’m not doing the books or helping keg, I’m making a one-on-one connection with the people coming through our door.”
Despite the growing demand for Scofflaw beers, Shirah said he envisions keeping the brewery “hyper local.”
“We’re not planning to leave the state of Georgia,” he said. “We’ll do what it takes to meet Georgia’s demand for draft beer.”
Scofflaw joins a number of Georgia breweries that have announced expansion efforts in recent months, including Monday Night Brewing, Creature Comforts and Wild Heaven as well as ex-Stone brewmaster Mitch Steele’s project, New Realm Brewing Co. in Atlanta.
As Scofflaw closes in on becoming one of the most successful craft breweries to launch in recent years, consider this: Golden Road, Devils Backbone and Karbach Brewing all produced between 5,000 and 10,000 barrels of beer in their first years. Those three companies would eventually get acquired by Anheuser-Busch InBev, but a handful of independent breweries — Newburyport Brewing, Baxter Brewing and Lord Hobo Brewing, among others — have sold similar quantities of beer during their first year of existence.
Clarification 7:42 p.m.: An earlier version of this story reported that Scofflaw had already produced more than 8,500 barrels in nine months. The story has been updated to reflect the company’s projections for first-year production.