(Lewiston, ME) – Baxter Brewing Co. has finalized a round of financing for a $2 million expansion that will result in new tanks and increased operating capacity beginning as early as next spring.
The brewer held a press conference at its facility on Monday morning to announce the expansion, one that will happen in multiple phases.
The first phase is targeted for completion by next March, just in time for Celsius Summer Ale production. The addition of three new 240-barrel fermenters will double current capacity of approximately 8,000 barrels.
Baxter CEO, Luke Livingston, says, “It’s an aggressive goal but a necessary one as we’ve only been able to fill 30% of orders this year.”
Over the course of the expansion, Baxter will add:
- six 240-bbl fermenters outdoor fermenters (similar set-up to the recent Allagash expansion)
- second Cask automated canning line allowing brewery to can up to 60 cans per minute on 2 five-head fillers
- automated six-packing unit
- second 60-barrel bright tank
- off-site 6-8k square-foot warehouse
- 15-20 more employees on top of current staff of ten employees
The remaining three fermenters will be brought in one at a time as it will require Baxter to hire additional brewers.
Baxter currently brews about four days a week but will be moving to a 24-hour production schedule 5-6 days a week.
By the time the project is completed, the company will have just about maxed out what it can do to the facility to increase capacity, expected to be 33,000 barrels at that point though Livingston said that the timeframe beyond the first phase is unknown.
The company is currently producing all the beer it can make and will brew 8,000 barrels this year.
“We’ve been up against capacity since the start of the year,” says Livingston.
The company currently distributes beer throughout Maine and Massachusetts. A plan to distribute to New Hampshire was nixed earlier in the year due, in large part, to demand outweighing supply in existing markets.
“Our first priority is to be able serve our current markets but this expansion should allow us to start sending beer to New Hampshire and Vermont. I think we’ll be able to ship beer to New Hampshire on allocation once the first phase is completed.”
Baxter signed with two MillerCoors wholesalers in New Hampshire, Bayside Distributing and Amoskeag Beverages, last year.
The expansion is being almost entirely financed from existing investors, a combination of private equity and private debt.
As for what the distant future holds once Baxter maxes out production at the Lewiston facility…
“My 5 and 10-year goals have become my 2 and 3-year goals and I haven’t necessarily filled [the 5 and 10-year goals] back in yet,” says Livingston. “We are absolutely committed to being in Lewiston and Auburn. It is a great community in which to do business and we’re excited to be part of the cultural revolution in Lewiston. I don’t envision that we are going to go anywhere else after 30,000 barrels but we’ll certainly have to get creative when the time comes.”