18th Street Brewery will double its production by the end of 2014 — less than one year after opening its doors — while also becoming the first Northwest Indiana brewery to have its own canning facility.
Owner Drew Fox is investing in larger equipment and a canning line, combined moves that will allow the Gary, Ind., brewery to increase production from roughly 500 barrels a year to more than 1,000. That growth will also mean an increased ability to distribute throughout the state of Indiana, as Fox has also reached an agreement with Starlight Distributors to deliver more of 18th Street’s beers in the Indianapolis area. 18th Street has also reached Europe, after a recent collaboration with Mikkeller, a Copenhagen, Denmark-based brewer. Fox said he is now working to identify a distributor to continue that relationship and keep 18th Street beers flowing in Europe.
“Even before we opened our doors, we’ve had nothing but incredible support from so many people,” Fox said. “Since we opened last winter, that support has been overwhelming. We really can’t thank people enough for that. We’re ecstatic.”
18th Street currently operates with nine 7-barrel fermenters at its production facility. Over the next four months, each of those fermenters will be removed and replaced with nine 10-barrel fermenters.
Fox has also purchased a new canning line, currently being assembled by Calgary-based Cask Brewing Systems and set to arrive in late September. That will allow 18th Street to transition from 22-ounce bottles to canning nearly all of its beer, with bottles reserved for special releases.
“It takes us about eight hours to bottle just one 7-barrel tank,” Fox said. “These moves will make us much more efficient, even as we’re growing.”
Unlike a mobile canner, the canning facility will be the equivalent of a small manufacturing facility emerging in Gary, creating four new jobs with it. It will be built directly across from the brewery.
“We want to be part of a cultural and economic renaissance in Gary, but we also want to help bring small manufacturing back to Gary,” Fox said, “By adding the canning facility, it shows that small manufacturing still has a place in Gary, Indiana.”