E-Malt.com News article: USA, OH: Rhinegeist Brewery expands to meet racing demand for its production
Rhinegeist Brewery is investing $10 million to purchase their historic 112,000 sqft building, install a massive new brewhouse, and build a private event space & rooftop bar, Ohio.com reported on March 13.
Currently, Rhinegeist self-distributes its beer in Cincinnati and Dayton, and also sells its products in Northern Kentucky via Riverghost Distributing. Demand for their hoppy, sessionable beers is still outpacing supply, despite maxing out production on their existing brewhouse.
In fact the Brewers Association recently announced that Rhinegeist was the #1 top selling new craft brewery in the entire nation in 2014 (based on data from IRI, which compiles supermarket sales). That was a pretty shocking statistic, considering Rhinegeist only had its beer in a subset of regional supermarkets, and only for a portion of the year.
So, just 18 months into their operations, the Rhinegeist team put the wheels in motion on their 5-10 year plan to buy the building and construct a new brewhouse to increase capacity. The building was purchased right before Thanksgiving, with financing from Heartland Bank.
In order to fit a new brewhouse, 3 times the size of their existing one, Rhinegeist removed about 2/3 of the second floor, allowing the nearly 30’ tall fermenters to stand firm, while retaining a mezzanine for tours and additional offices.
Rhinegeist purchased a new 60 barrel brewhouse from BrauKon, and now the new brewhouse is already up and running.
This will allow Rhinegeist to grow from the near 11,000 barrels sold in 2014, to upwards of 30,000 barrels in 2015, and substantially more than that over time. The team at Rhinegeist has grown at a similar pace, from 5 people in early 2013, to over 50 today, with plans to reach over 100 by 2017.
The brewing squad, led by head brewer, Jim Matt, has grown to six people, including Cole Hackbarth and Chris Shields who moved from California and North Carolina, respectively, along with Rhinegeist veterans Luke Cole, Aaron Stryker, and Peter Mooney.
With that increase in capacity, Rhinegeist will start by expanding distribution in Columbus. The brewery is sticking to their self-distribution roots as they grow. They hope to finalize a lease shortly for 17,000 sqft near downtown Columbus, where they will build a massive refrigerator and host a fleet of colorful sprinter vans, along with a new 54’ freight truck, to ensure all beer is stored and delivered cold.
Rhinegeist is already in the process of hiring a sales and distribution team of 12+ people for the Columbus market, led by Mike Rutter and Dennis Kramer-Wine who have been managing distribution in Cincinnati, and John Fandrich who will manage sales. They are already trickling beer into the market, and expect a full launch of draft and package in late spring / early summer. After launching Columbus, Rhinegeist hopes to gradually extend its distribution into other regional markets over the course of the next 2+ years.
18 March, 2015