Bigger and Better: Minnesota Breweries Build for the Future

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Indeed Brewing Company also recently announced plans to increase its capacity to around 20,000 barrels, with plans to brew around 12,000 barrels in 2014. Unlike Surly and Fulton, Indeed’s expansion doesn’t require it to look for more space. The room for potential growth was a major factor that drew Indeed founders to the old factory space the brewery currently occupies. The company is in the process of converting an old boiler room to house 120 barrel tanks that will be installed in 2014. Indeed Brewing co-founder Tom Whisenand said the expansion is needed to keep up with the company’s growth, which is exceeding expectations.

“Obviously the demand is greater than our supply,” said Whisenand. “In order to meet the demand, we will basically continue to add tanks throughout the next year. This is the beginning of a continuous slow expansion. We’re also investing a lot into equipment that will further increase the quality of our beer. And we’re also expanding our distribution footprint.”

Even one of Minnesota’s biggest breweries has found that it has plenty of room to grow. Following the completion of a massive new cellar last year, Summit Brewing Company recently announced the purchase of the Twin City Tile and Marble Company property, a 3.5 acre site with a 40,000 square foot building directly behind Summit’s existing brewery. The new building will house Summit’s sales, marketing, and administrative staff and eliminate the need for offsite storage. Consumers will notice a big change as a result of the new facility—the new location will house a canning line by early 2014, allowing Summit to can beers for the first time.

One interesting element of Summit’s expansion is how beer will be transported from the cellar to the new building, a distance of around 300 feet. A two-inch insulated pipeline will emerge from the middle of the cellar wall and extend over the green space Summit uses for its Backyard Bash parties to the new building, where it will run through the wall and deliver cold beer to a buffer tank for the canning line.

For Summit founder Mark Stutrud, the pipeline technique recalls the days when Summit was an upstart brewery undergoing a more modest expansion.

“The interesting thing is that when we were on University Avenue and we had two buildings, we started with 7,500 square feet on University Avenue, and then we got the lease to a second building that was behind an alley from the first one,” said Stutrud. “We connected those two buildings with a pipeline too, so this is kind of like Back to the Future. This is something we have done before.”

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Will any of Minnesota’s new generation of breweries have a similar moment recalling their humbler beginnings 15 years from now? Time will tell, but with so many breweries expanding it’s not hard to believe that one or more could have a Summit-sized expansion in its future.

In Marshall, Minnesota, Brau Brothers Brewing recently opened a new 37,000 square foot facility. Big Wood Brewery is working on a taproom in White Bear Lake. Dangerous Man Brewing Company is adding a walk-in cooler that will allow it to have more beers on tap at once and sell more of its in-demand growlers. The Growler is also aware of several other local breweries with expansion on their minds that are not yet ready to share their plans.

The flurry of expansions suggests that the state of Minnesota’s brewing scene is quite healthy. Brian Hoffman, co-founder of the expanding Fulton Brewing, agrees.

“It’s not just brewery expansions, but new breweries are opening at an amazing rate, and out-of-state breweries are coming to market here as well,” said Hoffman. “The amount of options we now have behind the bar and at the liquor store are exponentially greater than what they were five years ago. All of this shows we have a strong, ever expanding market here in Minnesota, the growth of which I don’t see slowing down any time real soon.”

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