Catawba Brewing Co.’s 2018 expansion project is right on track. Just two months after announcing their purchase of Palmetto Brewing of Charleston, S.C., the brewery installed two new 240-bbl external fermenters at their existing production facility in Morganton, N.C. Two more identical vessels are scheduled to arrive in Morganton next week. The 11,000-lb tanks were custom-built by Marks Design and Metal Works of Vancouver, Wash., at a total investment cost of $300,000.
Plans for the new equipment
The new tanks are slated to remain full at all times with the company’s four best-selling brands: Catawba White Zombie White Ale, Catawba HOPness Monster IPA, Palmetto Huger Street IPA and Palmetto Amber Ale. Fermentation capacity will be increased by more than 50 percent as a result of these tanks alone — from the current level of about 20,000 bbls per year to more than 30,000 bbls with the new tanks.
The brewery plans for all canned products for both Catawba and Palmetto to be produced in Morganton, effective April 1. Finished goods facilities for shipments and pickups will be located at a new warehouse in Morganton and at the Charleston brewery. A dedicated 53-ft refrigerated tractor-trailer will move fresh product daily between these hubs for finished goods to facilitate timely delivery to distributor warehouses in six states (NC, SC, TN, GA, AL, VA).
In addition to equipment upgrades, the company is investing in new personnel. Notably, a full-time product manager was recently added to their commercial and operations teams to oversee the smooth execution of new product introductions. A full-time quality control and assurance manager will soon be hired to oversee all lab and testing work in Morganton, and more jobs will be created by the expansion in the months ahead.
While the production brewery in Morganton focuses on canned product, most Catawba and Palmetto draft beer will originate in Charleston, S.C. Later this month, the Charleston brewery will add a third brewing vessel to its existing 25-bbl brewhouse, along with five brand new 100-bbl fermenters. This phase of the expansion will raise fermentation capacity by 83 percent in Charleston, scheduled to be completed by late-April.
Pilot brewhouses in Asheville and Charlotte will continue serving the need for weekly Small Batch beers, test batches and specialty series — like the upcoming Cloud Cover NE IPA releases. Additionally, the brewery’s Barrel Program will be a point of emphasis in Charlotte, with plans for a number of canned and bottled releases to arrive throughout the year.