By Joseph Alton, @JoeAlton
Photos by Brian Kaufenberg
When Fulton Brewing Company began building their 6,000 square foot facility in the North Loop neighborhood of Minneapolis, equipped with four 40 bbl fermenters & one bright tank, they wondered how they could possibly fill all that space. Well, that was two short years — and seven tanks — ago.
The “little brewery that could” has quickly outgrown the brewing capacity of their downtown facility and has signed a long term lease on a much larger facility in Northeast Minneapolis. The new brewery — at 2540 2nd St NE — will enable Fulton to take 100% of their beer production in-house. For those of you who have grown to love Fulton’s downtown taproom, fear not, the current facility (at 414 6th Ave N) won’t be going anywhere. Because of Minnesota’s current taproom and brewery laws, Fulton can only have one taproom and it will remain in the Loop, in the shadow of Target Field. The Growler was lucky enough to take a tour of the new facility and chat with Fulton co-owner, Brian Hoffman about what all this means to Fulton and their fans.
Fulton took over the lease on the new 51,000 square foot production brewery on September 1st and has already begun using space for storage. They are working with the Minneapolis architecture firm, DJR to finalize the building plans which are “being finalized right now,” Hoffman says. According to Hoffman, Fulton will need to do very little in terms of new walls, structures, etc. The space, a former warehouse for Ragstock, is set up almost perfectly for the production facility Fulton has in mind.
“We’ll be able to start utilizing this space pretty quickly,” Hoffman explains. Currently Fulton is leasing warehouse space in St. Anthony Park, office space in the North Loop, and cold storage in another off-site location. As soon as Fulton has a cooler built into the new space, they will be able to bring all of these in-house as well. Pending the finalization of certain contracts, Hoffman says Fulton intends to start the build-out process as soon as possible and hopes to receive their new brewing equipment in January, February, or March with production starting sometime next summer.
Though our current laws will not allow Fulton a second taproom in Northeast’s burgeoning beer district, they will likely offer tours at the new production facility which would allow for sampling in some capacity. Hoffman explained that the decision to locate their facility in Northeast is more about relative proximity to the original location downtown than it is about the “cool” factor. However, they say they are certainly “happy to continue to add to the Northeast brewery boom.”
Fulton’s current facility can produce approximately 9,000 barrels of beer per year. If everything goes as planned, the new brewery will be able to produce as much as 20,000 barrels per calendar year on top of that. For now, Fulton plans to continue bottling, adding a new packaging line to the new facility. You can expect to see Libertine and Worthy Adversary in (12 oz) 4 packs and a large expansion to their Garage Series of beer — which will be released in 750 ml bottles — effectively turning the North Loop brewery space into a large “pilot brewery.”
Fulton, currently staffs 15 full timers, with 29 total employees on payroll. With the new project, Fulton forecasts they will likely be hiring somewhere between 15-20 more full time employees in the next year or two.
When asked if the boost to volume will mean wider-spread distribution, Hoffman was clear that “right now, we’re currently planning on sticking with the state of Minnesota. We really want to make sure that before we start kicking out to other markets we’re taking care of the Twin Cities…Take care of our home base first.”