Categorized under: Brewery, Expansion

Expansion – Steam Works Brewery

Steamworks expands into Midwest
By Chuck Slothower

Steamworks Brewing Co. is moving into three new markets as it seeks more customers for its craft beer.

Customers in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn., were added to the brewery’s territory March 31; Long Island, N.Y., opened to Steamworks beer May 1, and Wisconsin is next in line for the brewery.

“The market for craft beer is continually expanding throughout the United States and has now reached 5 percent of the total beer market in terms of dollars,” said Brian McEachron, director of marketing and sales. “Tastes are evolving, and beer drinkers now appreciate the nuances and flavor of a variety of craft beers.”

Steamworks already distributes beer in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. The brewery started distributing in New Mexico in January 2005, in Arizona in summer 2006 and in Texas in fall 2007.

Steamworks was founded in Durango in 1996, and opened its Bayfield site in 2004.

The brewery is rolling into the new markets with six-packs of Steam Engine Lager and Third Eye Pale Ale, plus 22-oz. bottles of Colorado Kasch, The Conductor and Lizard Head Red. Keg sales will be limited initially. Steamworks is also gearing up to market a 12-pack sampler in the new markets, McEachron said.

The brewery will later offer draft beer, said Kris Oyler, co-founder and CEO.

But how will Midwesterners, accustomed to Schlitz and Miller Lite, take to Steamworks beer?

Oyler said the Midwest is “an underserved market.”

“I’m excited about those two Midwestern markets, because they’ve been a little bit behind the curve in getting into the craft beer market,” Oyler said. “And they’re waking up to it, and they’re hungry for it.”

Freshness can become an issue when shipping beer across the country, so Steamworks is taking steps to ensure it arrives fresh in the farther-flung markets, Oyler said. The brewery tries to ship beer in refrigerated trucks whenever possible, and also tries not to keep beer in its own coolers too long.

Steamworks beer has no preservatives and is not pasteurized.

Oyler said freshness was a matter of “just trying to find good distribution partners who are going to take care of the beer.”

Ska Brewing, Durango’s other large craft brewery, distributes beer in Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Illinois and North Carolina.

The brewery is growing fast in its markets, including triple-digit growth in Arizona, said co-founder David Thibodeau.

Ska is constructing a new headquarters in Bodo Industrial Park. Thibodeau said he hopes the building will open in September. Texas may be the next territory for Ska to enter, he said.

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  • Owner of our local homebrew shop was up at Steamworks last Friday during happy hour and witnessed them hand bottling their beer in the evening. They were even using a 4 bottle filler and hand capper, I don’t know if it was a problem with the regular bottling line or just they are that small, I suspect the former.

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