Another Bend brewery is planning to expand both its brewing capacity and its tasting room this year.
Trever Hawman, founder of Bridge 99 Brewery, plans on replacing a 2-barrel brewing system with a 15-barrel system and enlarging the tasting room at the brewery on Layton Avenue.
It’s a significant step up for a business that started as a hobby, grew into a home occupation and in January 2015 moved into a leased warehouse space.
“We just kind of kept increasing, our demand keeps increasing,” he said April 10. “The problem right now is we have just too small a system. It’s a lot of labor to brew that much, where it’s about the same amount of labor to brew 15 barrels. If you’re going to spend the time, you might as well brew enough to make it worthwhile.”
Hawman purchased the new brewing system from Stout Tanks & Kettles, a Portland firm. Owner John Watt said Tuesday he still sees strong growth in start-ups and small breweries with expansion plans. Larger breweries seem to be holding onto market share or slipping.
“Bridge 99 and others are still able to grow and make gains, where the other big brewers are not,” Watt said.
A 2-barrel system can barely keep up with on-premise sales, he said. A 15-barrel system means a brewery can increase its distribution, he said, which is part of Hawman’s plan. Bridge 99, which reported selling 222 taxable barrels of beer in Oregon last year, could be brewing 10 times that much within a year.
“I’m behind right now. We can’t find new accounts because we can’t keep up with what we have,” he said. “Places from out of town contact us, but if you don’t have it, you can’t sell it.”
Hawman said he plans on expanding the tasting room into an adjacent building, from about 200 square feet to nearly 1,000 square feet. He also plans on adding cooler space for the brewery and tasting room. The timetable covers most of the year.
“We’re hoping to be able to get the final equipment in the next month, probably,” Hawman said. “It would take about six months to hook it all in. We’re hoping within the end of June to be able to work on the tasting room space.”
According to Bart Watson, chief economist for the Brewers Association, a Colorado-based trade organization, data suggests that microbreweries with tasting rooms grew faster in 2016 than those without tasting rooms. In a report released Monday, Watson wrote that microbreweries across the country sold more beer last year, between 11.6 percent and 33.7 percent more, on average, depending on size, than the previous year.
However, Watson pointed out, while the numbers suggest that small brewers with a tasting room have an advantage over those that don’t, the link may not be so clear. Market conditions and regulatory environments differ from state to state, and a tasting room may be an add-on to an already successful brewery, rather than an addition that helps improve the brewery profile among consumers.
Bridge 99, named for a landmark bridge familiar to flyfishers on the Metolius River, is among a handful of Central Oregon brewers with plans to grow.
10 Barrel Brewing, a property of Anheuser-Busch InBev since 2014, expects within two weeks to open a brewpub in San Diego, its fifth. It’s already moved into a new, 69,000-square-foot packaging and warehousing facility built adjacent to its existing brewery on NE 18th Street in Bend.
Part of the addition will be another brewpub similar in size to the original 10 Barrel pub on NW Galveston Avenue, said Garrett Wales, 10 Barrel vice president of pub development, Tuesday.
“We’re not ready to claim an opening date,” he said. The new pub, with seating for about 100 and a banquet area, could be open in May or June, he said.
Bend-based Worthy Brewing, Bend Brewing Co. and Silver Moon Brewing are all increasing their brewing capacity and broadening their distribution. Bend Brewing is adding an outdoor beer garden this year.
Kobold Brewing LLC, a small-batch brewer in Bend, is building a tasting room in downtown Redmond. In Terrebonne, Good Earth Brewing LLC announced plans to start brewing in the shadow of Smith Rock, possibly this year, and in Prineville, Crooked River Brewing LLC opened a brewpub in January. It recently received approval from the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau and expects to start selling its own beer within several weeks, said co-founder Jesse Toomey.
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