Economy & Economic Development  June 10, 2015

Oskar Blues launches expansion of North Carolina brewery

LONGMONT — Oskar Blues Brewery this week launched a major construction project at its Brevard, N.C., facility that is expected to double its output when completed.

By the end of the year, the Longmont-based brewer’s North Carolina plant will have sent out more than 40 million cans of craft beer to 20 East Coast states.

Spokeswoman Ann Fitten Glenn said one of the first projects to be completed — by the end of this month — will be a second 50-barrel mash “tun” — “the big kettle where the grain, malt and water are mixed,” Glenn said. “It’s the first step in the hot side of the brewing process.”

Adding the second tun “will enable us to double our brewing schedule. We’ll be able to do 16 brews in a 24-hour period, as opposed to the eight we can do now. Each brew is 50 barrels.”

The North Carolina brewery is on track to produce 85,000 barrels of the various Oskar Blues beers and ales this year, Glenn said, but the expansion, when completed, is expected to boost that number to around 210,000 barrels a year.

Also part of the construction project is a 9,000 square-foot expanded wastewater-treatment system building and a 17,000-square-foot addition for fermentation tanks connected to the back of the existing 30,000-square-foot warehouse. Additionally, a silo to hold spent grain before transport, more administrative offices and a commissary kitchen for the CHUBwagon food truck will be added.

The additional wastewater-treatment system is the first part of a two-phase system that will remove the majority of remaining organic particulate from the wastewater. All spent grain, yeast and “trub” — the layer of sediment that remains at the bottom of the fermenter — from the brewing process is pumped into a silo and used as supplemental cattle feed. The spent-grain program has been in place since shortly after the brewery opened for business.

Glenn denied that the start of construction was fueled by cash from an investment in Oskar Blues made earlier this year by Boston-based Fireman Capital Partners.

“We’ve been planning this for more than a year. It was part of the initial plan when we opened the brewery,” she said. “We had hoped for this to happen last year. We were just waiting on permits.”

Started by Dale Katechis in 1997 as a brewpub in Lyons, Oskar Blues in 2002 became the first craft brewer to can beer. It opened a large production facility and taproom in Longmont in 2009. It has added three restaurants there, bought a farm in Boulder County and started a bicycle manufacturing and retail shop, and opened the Brevard brewery in late 2012. On March 27, Oskar Blues purchased Perrin Brewing in Michigan.

Spokesman Chad Melis confirmed in a June 2 article in online trade publication CompanyWeek that Fireman Capital had invested in Oskar Blues, but declined to say how big its stake was. “Details of the deal are not disclosed,” he told CompanyWeek, “but Fireman Capital has invested to help Oskar Blues meet its capital needs as we continue to engineer growth.”

Oskar Blues currently has 45 employees at the Brevard brewery, and more are expected to be hired as growth continues.

“We’re excited to continue our exponential growth in our second home of Brevard,” said Noah Tuttle, general manager of the North Carolina facility, in a media statement. “We appreciate the support of the community, city and county, and we love that so many of our friends and neighbors wander in for a pint or a brewery tour on a regular basis.”

Some of those neighbors will show up on July 17-18 when Oskar Blues hosts its annual Burning CAN Beer, Music and Sports Fest at the REEB Ranch, eight miles from the brewery in Henderson County, N.C.

LONGMONT — Oskar Blues Brewery this week launched a major construction project at its Brevard, N.C., facility that is expected to double its output when completed.

By the end of the year, the Longmont-based brewer’s North Carolina plant will have sent out more than 40 million cans of craft beer to 20 East Coast states.

Spokeswoman Ann Fitten Glenn said one of the first projects to be completed — by the end of this month — will be a second 50-barrel mash “tun” — “the big kettle where the grain, malt and water are mixed,” Glenn said. “It’s the first step in…

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