4 Midwestern brewing companies outgrow their spaces, expand to new facilities

Representatives of Drumconrath & Drekker Brewing in the former Drekker Brewery // Photo via Drumconrath Brewing Company

Four brewing companies in Minnesota, western Wisconsin, and eastern North Dakota have outgrown their original spaces and are expanding to new locations—some just in time for the busy summer season, others with plans for completion later this year.

In 2018, just one year after opening, Drumconrath Brewing Company in eastern North Dakota upgraded their three-barrel system to a seven-barrel system and soon realized a full expansion was in order. In March of this year, to accommodate for the growth, the brewery decided to move from their original Mapleton, North Dakota, location to the heart of downtown Fargo.

“Things just kept picking up and picking up,” says owner and head brewer Sam Corr. “We wanted to add a canning line and upgrade our barrel system again. I thought, if we’re going to expand, let’s really just go for it.”

With serendipitous timing, Drekker Brewing Company contacted Drumconrath in November 2018 to let them know their space in the Cityscapes Plaza in downtown Fargo was up for grabs. On May 14, 2019, Drumconrath officially secured the space.

“It’s perfect because Drekker is leaving everything behind,” Corr says. “Prep-wise, we don’t really have anything to do other than paint. The location is licensed and so are we, so we’re almost ready to go.”

Thanks to the easy transition, Drumconrath plans to open in their new space at the end of June or the beginning of July. Once open in Fargo, the brewery’s Mapleton facility will officially close. The new brewhouse will have a 10-barrel system and Corr has high hopes that Drumconrath will get much more foot traffic and exposure due to the busy downtown location.

Copper Trail Brewing Co // Photo via Facebook

Copper Trail Brewing Co. has also found a new home in a bustling downtown. On April 4, they announced their move from 410 30th Avenue to a larger location on 205 Broadway Street in historic downtown Alexandria, Minnesota. The new spot is an existing building that they’re remodeling to include a 150-seat taproom, outdoor patio space, and a much larger production area than they had in their original building.

“We ran into limited capacity,” says Dave Gibbons, co-owner and co-brewer. “We only had a seven-barrel brewery. We felt landlocked.”

Copper Trail’s new facility is about a block from the Central Lakes Trail and, at roughly 8,000-square-feet, is approximately four times the size of their old space. This will allow them to triple their seating and upgrade from their seven-barrel system to a 15-barrel brewhouse.

“We used to see people drive by or walk in and then leave because there was no room for them,” Gibbons says. “Our new place will have more room, a whole lot more character, outdoor seating, and even private event space.”

Adam Graf, co-owner and co-brewer, adds: “Plus, it’s in the heart of downtown surrounded by shops and restaurants, so we’ll be a part of the community and we’ll be able to add to the atmosphere of the town.”

Their current location will be open and in operation until the new facility is ready. The plan is to have the new brewery space up and running by late summer 2019.

This spring, AEGIR Brewing Company in Elk River, Minnesota, moved into their new brewing facility. Head brewer and co-owner Jeremy Jones says he saw a need for more space right away when doors opened in March 2018.

AEGIR Brewing’s original taproom in Elk River, MN. Photo by Kayla Lee of Kayla Lee Photography + Design.

Although the brewery is named after a giant in Norse mythology, the taproom—at a mere 1,100-square-feet—doesn’t take up a whole lot of space. While the former cake shop-turned-taproom is still in use, AEGIR added a 2,600-square-foot brewing facility to the operation. The expansion is located a couple of blocks from the taproom and has allowed them to upgrade from a three-barrel brewing system to a seven-barrel system. With their new and improved brewhouse, they will be able to open the taproom an extra day during the week.

“Because the space was so small, we used to be closed on both Monday and Tuesday so I could brew,” says Jones. “But now I can brew when it’s most convenient for me and we can have the taproom open to the public on Tuesdays.” He says depending on how things go they could eventually be open seven days a week.

The new facility has been in use for a little over a month. Along with approximately 120 square feet of extra room for seating and being open on Tuesdays, Jones says the extra space brings AEGIR that much closer to their goal of distributing in the near future, beginning with bars and restaurants.

Pitchfork Brewing Company in Hudson, Wisconsin, is currently in the process of building an entirely new facility from the ground up. The building, which will be a couple of blocks from their original spot, will be three times the size at approximately 6,000-square-feet. Farm-themed and hyper-local, the space will include an 84-by-14-foot patio space, a 10-barrel brewhouse, and a large parking lot—all of which will aid in the brewery’s ability to keep pace as needed.

“We were at our production peak,” says co-owner Mike Fassino. “It got too difficult to keep up with distribution as well as [supply] product in the taproom.”

Pitchfork’s original brew room will be traded in for a brewery three times the size of the original // Photo by Aaron Davidson

The expansion will also include a kitchen, allowing both Fassino and co-owner and brewer Mike Fredricksen to utilize their cooking skills via an outdoor smoker and an electric pizza oven. In addition to beer, they are also hoping to add wine to the menu.

Currently in its early stages of development, Pitchfork’s plan is to have their new space up and running by mid-fall 2019.

“With the expansion, we want Pitchfork to be more of a destination,” says Fassino. “We’ll have food, more space, and possibly even live music in the near future. We also plan to increase distribution.”

From increased distribution goals to new buildings, these breweries are finding ways to grow and make their mark in an increasingly competitive craft beer scene.

 

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