Business at The Vault, the Kobold Brewing taproom on SW Sixth Street in Redmond, is good so far, said husband and wife owner-operators Steve and Heather Anderson.
“I’ve been hoarding beer for my taphouse, and we are crushing it,” Steve Anderson said Wednesday. “We’re selling more beer than I thought we’d sell. It’s insane.”
Small, independent brewers in the U.S. increased production by 5 percent during the first half of the year, compared to the same period last year, according to a mid-year report on craft brewing released Tuesday by the Brewers Association, a not-for-profit trade group. The report shows that the craft brewing sector is maturing, that is growth continues but at a slower pace than years past. Craft brewing production increased by 8 percent for the same period in 2016, said Matt Sutton, a spokesman for the association.
“Plenty of breweries are having strong, double-digit growth, but not everyone is,” he said. “You can’t get double-digit growth for infinity. For some, 2 percent a year is a very big success.”
Anderson, whose Kobold Brewing Co. in May was No. 211 out of 246 Oregon breweries by number of taxable barrels of beer sold in-state, had curtailed his sales to other retail outlets in order to have enough beer to sell at the taphouse he opened Friday.
“I’ve been to those new brewery tasting rooms and it says ‘out’ on the tap list,” he said. “I didn’t wanna be that guy. I didn’t want to be Mr. Out.”
As a result, he guessed that his sales the first six months of this year suffered, but if early success is an indicator, he will more than make up for it the remainder of the year. Anderson and Kobold, like other Central Oregon brewers, are ahead of the curve when it comes to expanding their operations.
Small breweries like Kobold, Monkless Belgian Ales and North Rim Brewing, all based in Bend, are driving expansion in craft brewing around the country, Brewers Association Chief Economist Bart Watson has said.
Part of that phenomenon is due to the proliferation of breweries — 2,739 in planning stages and 5,562 in operation, according to the association. Adding a taproom is another way to boost sales and increase production.
Monkless Belgian Ales recently opened a new taproom in the unit adjacent to its production brewery on High Desert Lane, said Robin Clement, marketing manager for Monkless, the brewery her husband, Todd Clement, co-founded in 2013. Monkless in the past year has also expanded its distribution through Bigfoot Beverage Distributors, added a bottling line and started canning two of its products. As of May, the brewery had sold 133 taxable barrels of beer in Oregon this year, according to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
“We increased the amount we’re producing; we signed with Bigfoot and that has given us the ability to get more product out in the market,” Robin Clement said Wednesday. “We are working to keep up with demand.”
Likewise, North Rim Brewing, located not far from Monkless in Bend’s northeast industrial corner, is also increasing its sales this year, due primarily to the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse visible in Central Oregon. North Rim is licensed to sell beer and wine at The Symbiosis: Total Eclipse Gathering at Big Summit Prairie outside Prineville. Organizers told Crook County commissioners in April the event could attract 30,000 people. North Rim also canned four of its products for the first time, including an eclipse-themed dark session IPA, Moon Junky, said Jesse Sweetman, sales manager.
“We are one beer garden providing a very large amount” of beer, he said Wednesday. “This year over last year we’re looking at prospectively 200 percent (increase in sales). That’s mostly based on the event, the eclipse. That’s what’s making the biggest impact.”
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