STEVENS POINT, Wis. – The Stevens Point Brewery, one of America’s longest-running breweries, plans to expand with a $2.5M investment in new capacity, equipment, and capabilities. Scheduled to be operational in spring 2021, the upgrades to the historic Wisconsin brewery include four additional 300-bbl fermentation tanks, a second centrifuge, state-of-the-art tunnel pasteurization, doubled line speeds, variety pack cans, and more. The additional 40,000 barrels will bring Point’s annual output to 165,000 barrels.
Operating partner Joe Martino will oversee the brewery’s most expensive overhaul to date, surpassing a $2M expansion in 2006. Martino explains, “In recent years, Point Brewery has been primarily focused on innovative product development, brewing efficiencies, our Quality Program, and putting together a stellar team. Now, with demand increasing year after year for Point Beers, Ciderboys Hard Ciders, and Whole Hog Brews, the decision to invest was easy.”
Instead of a physical extension or new building, the $2.5M expenditure in Stevens Point will focus inside the existing structure, which boasts cellars and outer walls that date back to 1857. Martino continues, “This modernization is mindful of that history, and it’s a natural next step – all based on our solid infrastructure and the explosive growth of our brands.”
In addition to four new 300-BBL fermenting vessels, manufactured by Wisconsin-based Sprinkman, the Stevens Point Brewery is installing a state-of-the-art tunnel pasteurizer. This replaces a 1950s-era “workhorse” tunnel, and complements their modern KHS flash pasteurizer. Installation of the new pasteurizer will necessitate an entire redesign of their historic Bottle Shop. According to director of operations Dan Weilep, “This was the perfect time to replace our bottle filler with a faster, leaner machine. This will effectively double our bottling line speeds.”
To keep up with the added fermentation vessels and faster bottling, the brewery is also adding a second centrifuge, which works in conjunction with its Diatomaceous Earth (DE) filter for clarifying beverages. Point Brewery has also ordered a new, faster can packer, which will handle a greater variety of cans, including the taller, single-serve 19.2-ounce can.
These upgrades will free up their existing can packer to serve as a semiautomated variety-pack can assembler. According to marketing director Julie Birrenkott, “The demand for variety packs in cans is immense. We’re very excited to offer this to our customers in a streamlined way, since most breweries fill variety packs by hand.”
Home to Point Special Lager, Point Craft Beers, Ciderboys Hard Ciders, Whole Hog Brews, Point Sodas, and now Tea Runner Hard Iced Tea, the Stevens Point Brewery has survived and thrived for 163 years thanks to a loyal community in Wisconsin, which radiates out. Martino is happy to admit, “We wouldn’t be here without this community, and we’re proud to invest right here in Wisconsin.”