(Fort Collins, CO) – Though New Belgium Brewing and Odell Brewing tend to grab headlines on Beernews.org more often, there is another small brewery making a national name for itself in Fort Collins.
Business at Fort Collins Brewery is booming these days. The brewery opened up a brand-new facility last summer enabling annual production to grow up to 60,000 barrels. An excerpt from last week’s CBS Local coverage reads, “‘The sign of that are going to be these new 100 barrel tanks. Before this, the largest tank we had ever bought was a 60-barrel,” Smith said. ‘It brought us from a 600 barrel capacity fermentation space to a 1,000 barrel fermentation space.’”
Year-over-year growth for 2010 passed the 40% mark and production now exceeds 10,000 barrels a year according to FCB representative, Margaux Dart. The big year catapulted Fort Collins into a place among the largest 100 craft breweries in the U.S..
The brewery planned for excess capacity from the get-go but Dart said that they’re being careful in how they fill that capacity and are exercising caution with respect to spreading distribution. New Planet Beer is one company that is helping fill it under an alternating proprietorship agreement.
As with many other breweries mentioned as of late, Fort Collins’ ride hasn’t always been a smooth one. FCB has pulled out of a half dozen states in the past couple years. Despite the brewery’s much larger facility, Dart said that there is currently no plan to re-enter these markets. Meanwhile, the brewery has entered South Carolina and Louisiana over the past year, furthering its reach in the country’s fastest-growing region for craft beer sales (per Symphony IRI data).
The latest distribution exit is Wisconsin, a move that was finalized within the past few months. Fort Collins was distributed there by Beechwood Sales and Service. Avery Brewing, Dogfish Head and Stone Brewing are other Beechwood clients that announced in recent months that they are no longer distributing in Wisconsin through Beechwood. [Update: Worth clarifying that Dogfish Head and Stone were also distributed by General Beverage in WI.]
Change is also evident in Fort Collins’ product mix. The brewery launched a new quarterly line of beers earlier this year called The Incredible Hop, a set with a highly-hopped, high gravity slant. Imperial Black IPA was the first release and Imperial India Red Ale just arrived over the weekend. Imperial Wheat IPA will be introduced in Q3 and Double Tripple will be introduced in Q4.
In addition, 1900 Amber is now available in 6-packs for the first time and with a new label.
Looking ahead, Dart declined to comment on any future distribution news but said that the brewery is always considering new opportunities. She estimated that 2011 production may reach 12,000 barrels.