(St. Louis, MO) – Schlafly Beer Co-Founder and CEO, Dan Kopman, joined a live chat hosted by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Evan Benn on Friday. Kopman provided a candid look behind the company going into 2013 and beyond…
We are exploring the possibility of opening a small brewhouse, pub and store in Chciago. We are not close to making this a reality but it is a way in which we believe we could introduce Schlafly Beer to Chicago. We will keep you posted. (The company does not currently sell beer in Chicago).
On expansion in/around StL:
We are almost at capacity for our two breweries in StL at 50,000 bbls per year (and Kopman tells BeerPulse they have a production plan of 60,000-65,000 barrels in 2013). We are now looking for the land that would be needed for a new production brewery in StL. In the long term, a much larger brewery could need as much as 40 or 50 acres. There are few if any craft brewers with this type of footprint in an urban area. We very much want to avoid building a 3rd brewery and find down the road that we do not have enough land. With such a challenging search but a willingness to take on post-industrial urban land we are allowing 5 years from the start for the search to any production coming from a new brewery in StL.
On expanding distribution:
Our goal in 1991 was to be a local brewer. In 2005 we decided that Schlafly Beer can be relevant in a region that extends 300 miles from StL. Today we also send Schlafly Beer to the DC Metro area and in 2013 we will send some beer to the NY/NJ Metro area (the company already works with Hunterdon in NJ and could not comment on NY as nothing has been finalized). I still believe that local beers make towns and cities unique and that this is one of the most positive aspects of the growth of American craft beers.
On partnering with other breweries:
In order to continue to meet growing demand we have created partnerships with three breweries outside of StL to brew and package more beer. In 2012 we have brewed about 4,000 bbls of draft Pale Ale at the new Blackstone Brewery in Nashville. Their head brewer, Dave Miller was our first head brewer and therefore he is very familiar with Schlafly Pale Ale. When Blackstone was looking to build this brewery we worked out this agreement that has helped them to get the brewery built and helped us to get this capacity. We will continue to brew this quantity of Pale Ale in Nashville in 2013. We have a similar agreement with the new Backpocket Brewery in IA City. We will be brewing draft Summer Lager and Oktoberfest their in 2013. Lastly we have an agreement with Stevens Point Brewery to produce some of our beers in cans and we are now installing some new equipment at Stevens Point to make this happen. The combination of these partnerships should allow Schlafly Beer to meet increased demand over the next 5 years.
On new cans:
In 2013 we will be expanding our portfolio of beers in cans. In addition to Helles Style Summer Lager and Hefeweizen in 12 pack cans, we will be introducing a new series of “canned sessions” – beers in 12 ounce cans in 6 packs that will all be 5% abv or less. This will begin with two beers that we have produced as draft beers for a number of years; A session IPA based on the best of two recipes that we have produced – one that was know in DC as House in Session and the other an Amarillo IPA that was on tap at Schlafly Bottleworks. And American Brown Ale that we have brewed for a number of years at The Schlafly Tap Room and is on draft at select accounts in our trade area. Then in the fall of 2013 we will introduce a seasonal beer in cans as well.
Schwarzbier is the beer that we are considering for the first seasonal in the 6 pack “canned sessions” series. It would be available in the fall of 2013. A summer seasonal would follow in 2014.
The new canned Schlafly beers will come from Stevens Point as well. As we continue to look into what a new Schlafly brewery might look like, we need to both buy some time in regards to capacity by brewing some beer with partners, and figure out if a canning line is even something we want/need long term. Expanding our canning operations in Wisconsin in 2013 helps us with both.
On sour program:
We have started a sour beer program at the Tap Room in an area of the cellar that is separate from other fermentation areas. We have beers currently in barrels that have been innoculated with various strains of wild yeast and bacteria. We hope to have some of these beers available at the Tap Room only in 2013. We are years away from bottling any sour beers produced with wild yeast or bacteria. Brewers spent a few centuries trying to keep these little critters out of their beers so if we move to bottle these we want to ensure that there is no chance of cross contamination with other beers.