Just one and a half years after opening their taproom, St. Cloud’s Beaver Island Brewing Co. is looking to break ground on a second facility geared solely toward production. With a tentative timeline to break ground at a new site near St. Cloud Regional Airport and Territory Golf Course, Beaver Island aims to have the auxiliary brewery running by spring with packaged beer on shelves by next Tax Day.
“The demand is higher than the supply,” says Nick Barth, a co-founder of the young brewery that has already exceeded expected growth. A second site was always the plan, Barth says, but Beaver Island expected to build it closer to their five-year anniversary than their second. Serving over 80 accounts in St. Cloud, Central Minnesota, and from Duluth up to Canada, the 5,000 square foot brewery is at capacity now.
While the new space will produce the majority of their beer, the current taproom will remain the face of the brand, much like at Fulton in Minneapolis. “The gem of our business is downtown here,” stresses Barth. “This is home base.”
The new location will start at 10,000-square-feet but comes on a 4.5-acre industrial lot that can be expanded up to four times that size, including the option of stand-alone units, should they desire a sour house or barrel-aging facility down the road. A five-year projection would put their production near 15,000 barrels per year.
“We thought we had more fermentation space than we did,” Barth admits looking at the current taproom. “But you add two more fermentation vessels and we’re buying malt in greater volume. We have empty and full kegs and chemicals, and the footprint gets pretty small pretty quick.”
— BeaverIslandBrew (@BeaverIslandSTC) April 27, 2016
Beaver Island produced 784 barrels in their taproom in 2015, and will roughly double the figure in 2016. Ripple Kolsch-style and ‘39 Red IPA already lead a diverse and unique lineup of beers, including a new summer session IPA, Fabulous Armadillo, but Barth, Studer, and Beaver Island see expansion as the key to meeting their high demand.
A new brewery doesn’t just mean more Ripple and ’39, it means packaged beers and new recipes. Barth says they’re still weighing their options, but they’re leaning toward introducing 12-ounce cans as soon as the new space opens. Both core brands would be packaged, he says, but also potentially Sweet Mississippi oatmeal milk stout and a rotating seasonal.
“It’s a space and timing issue,” Barth says. “We don’t have the resources because everything is being used to keep up with current demand.” With the new brewery handling the bulk of production, the original brewhouse location will be freed up for experimentation.
“[The new] facility will, for the most part, crank out our year-round stuff, and this will become a little playground for us,” says co-owner Matt Studer. While there are a few barrels currently cellaring onsite already, he envisions an expanded barrel program, lagers, more one-offs, and more beer all around.
The new building is located in the St. Cloud Airport Business Park, and they worked closely with the city to secure it. Roughly three miles from their taproom, the industrial park comes equipped for the needs of a production brewery: tall ceilings, roads paved for heavy equipment, high pressure water, electrical wiring and other infrastructure are already in place. Beaver Island is happy to keep the business fully in St. Cloud and notes that new jobs, both in production and potentially in the taproom, will be created as a result.
The expansion is still awaiting final approval from St. Cloud Economic Development Authority, which is scheduled to discuss it at an August 2 meeting.