Stevens Point Expands Again, Capitalizes on Momentum

After producing 120,000 barrels last year, Stevens Point Brewery will launch a $2 million expansion project this month. The expansion – the brewery’s fourth since 2010 – is scheduled for completion in May and will increase Stevens Point’s brewing capacity to 150,000 barrels.

“Our sales growth shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s just good business to capitalize on our momentum in the marketplace and continue to invest in our brewery,” Joe Martino, the brewery’s operating partner, said in a press release.

The expansion will include a new can packer, which will package four- and six-packs of 12 oz. cans, a brew kettle, an automated grain handling system, and 16 more 100- and 200-barrel unitanks for fermenting and aging beer. The tanks will be stored in a 5,600 square-foot addition to the front of the brewery and will be operational in April. The expansion will allow the brewery to add to its staff, though no specific positions of need have been noted yet.

Julie Birrenkott, the brewery’s director of marketing, said that while sales remain strong in closer, well-established markets, she contributes much of the company’s growth to distribution in states like Texas, Florida, and much of the East Coast.

“The craft beer consumer is really looking for that new up-and-coming product and we kind of are that product when we go into these new markets,” she said.

She also boasted Stevens Point’s quality, drinkability and award-winning seasonal offerings, such as Point Nude Beach, a summer wheat ale, and Point Three Kings Ale, a fruity, golden ale.

“We would put our quality up to anybody’s out there,” Birrenkott said.

Ten years ago, Stevens Point produced 70,000 barrels and carried four styles of beer. In 2010, the brewery installed four aging tanks and expanded its keg cooler room by 2,700 square feet. One year later, the brewery added 6,600 square feet of warehouse space, five aging tanks and three fermentation tanks, which increased its brewing capacity to 100,000 barrels. Last year, the brewery added nine unitanks, two bright beer tanks for package-release beer, a 7,000 gallon hot-water tank and a beer-filtering centrifuge.

Birrenkott believes that a shift in the marketplace has enabled Stevens Point to grow at such a rapid pace.

“I think the consumers have changed,” she said. “The overall market has changed from the mainstream lager beers into something a little bit more.”

The brewery’s press release is below:

STEVENS POINT,Wis. — Keeping pace with ever-growing demand for its handcrafted beers, Stevens Point Brewery will launch another expansion this month, its fourth major expansion project in as many years.

Scheduled for completion in May, the $2 million project will increase the brewery’s annual production capacity to 150,000 barrels with the addition of a second brew kettle, 16 more unitanks for fermenting and aging beer, and a new automated grain handling system. The expansion also includes a new can packer that will allow the brewery to package four-pack and six-pack 12-ounce can packages for the first time.

“Our sales growth shows no signs of slowing down, so it’s just good business to capitalize on our momentum in the marketplace and continue to invest in our brewery,” said Joe Martino, Stevens Point Brewery Operating Partner. “The key feature of this expansion is the increase in our annual production capacity from 120,000 barrels to 150,000 barrels. We’ll achieve that milestone when the new 200-barrel brew kettle and additional unitanks become operational in April.”

The new 100- and 200-barrel vertical unitanks will be housed in a 5,600-square-foot addition to the front of the brewery. The new grain handling system will allow bulk deliveries of barley and other grains to the brewery, providing process efficiencies necessary to support the increased brewing capacity. The new state-of-the-art can packer line will significantly increase the speed of its can packaging operations as well as add four-pack and six-pack production capability to the packaging department, Martino explained.

“Beer in cans, particularly craft beers, is enjoying solid growth, so when the new can packer is operational we’ll be ready to offer all can-package configurations, from four-packs and six-packs to 12-packs and 24-packs,” he said.

This latest project is the fourth major expansion undertaken by the 155-year-old brewery since 2010. Last year, the brewery completed an expansion featuring nine unitanks, two bright beer tanks for package release beer, a new 7,000-gallon hot water tank and a centrifuge for filtering finished beer. In 2011, the brewery added 6,600 square feet of warehouse space, five aging tanks and three fermentation tanks to bring its brewing capacity up to 100,000 barrels per year. In 2010, four aging tanks were installed and the keg cooler room was expanded by 2,700 square feet. Success in the marketplace means new jobs, too: Martino said the brewery anticipates additional workers will be needed once the expansion is completed.

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