Finch’s Beer Co. announced that 2012 proved to be a lucrative year, with 130-percent growth for the Chicago-based craft brewery and there are no signs of slowing down in 2013.
Last year, 13 additional 30-barrel (bbl) fermenters were installed and capacity grew by 35 percent, well in advance of demand. Overall, 65 percent of the product was sold to local markets, with southern markets, including Georgia and Tennessee, accounting for 15 percent of gross sales. The beer was shipped to a total of nine states and 13 new distribution partnerships were established.
Internally, several changes were implemented. Michael Demetrus, brewer and operations manager, became an owner, now alongside Richard Grant, head brewer and owner. Full-time sales representatives for Atlanta, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin were hired, as well as a part-time representative in Pennsylvania.
In early 2013, Finch’s expanded into an 11,000-square-foot facility for receiving and shipping, while the brewery facility will be reserved exclusively for production and packaging. Also, Finch’s plans on adding five additional 30-bbl fermenters in 2013, achieving the increases in capacity necessary to stay ahead of demand in its distribution markets.
The first quarter of 2013 saw the launch of distribution in North Carolina with Next Generation Beer. Deals with the L. Knife & Sons Network servicing the entire Northeast, Arkansas Craft, servicing Arkansas, Brown Distributing — 2012 Craft Distributor of the Year — servicing Richmond, Va., and ChesBay Distributing servicing Tidewater, Va., are in motion for the second quarter.
Currently, the projected demand for sales is at 8,000 to 10,000 bbls. In only its second full calendar year since inception, Finch’s considers this to be a promising estimate.
Finch’s ownership continues to grow as Mike Finch, who manages East Coast sales, becomes an owner. As the brand continues to grow, ownership recognizes the importance of specialized support in each unique market.
“We are one of the only microbreweries that places a rep in each market, showing the importance we place in our brand’s success across the country,” Mike Finch said.
Planning for a new production brewery with a tasting room has already been discussed, but official planning will begin at the end of 2014. The future facility will include a 100-bbl brew house, among other upgrades. This new facility should be in production by early 2016, with an estimated 40,000 bbls of production for that year. Finch’s will begin to scout locations in Illinois towards the end of 2014, with a location secured by the second quarter of 2015.
“We love what we’re doing, and we’re all in,” said Ben Finch, owner and managing member. “We can’t wait to bring liquid through the front of our brewery for the first time … we know Chicago has asked for that, and so we’re making that happen at the next brewery in Chicago. We have so many beers we want to brew, and this will help us do so, while still being able to supply our distribution network properly and sufficiently.”
The portfolio of beers was increased to five core brands: Threadless IPA, a collaboration with locally based online artist community and t-shirt design website, Threadless.com, launched in June 2012. Secret Stache Stout, a traditional American vanilla stout, was added in November 2012, along with Fascist Pig Ale, a double red ale. The reviews of these additions have been extremely positive, with the Threadless IPA and Secret Stache Stout receiving a 92 and 98 total rating on Ratebeer.com, respectively.