The largest craft brewer in Kansas is now positioned for both national distribution and hometown growth. Tallgrass Brewing Co. recently completed the $7 million build-out of a 60,000-square foot, state-of-the-art facility on the outskirts of Manhattan, Kan., in March, quadrupling the capacity of the largest craft brewer in the state.
Founded in 2007 by former geologist and homebrew enthusiast Jeff Gill, Tallgrass experienced rapid growth throughout the Midwest with its 2010 switch from bottles to 16-ounce cans and irreverent branding — which plays on a range of themes from classic video games to zombies and progressive designs. The company reached its brewing capacity in 2013 at 16,000 barrels per year.
High demand for its 8-Bit Pale Ale, Buffalo Sweat and Ethos IPA products and the limitations of its former 14,000-square-foot brewery set in motion plans for the new facility — a former call center Tallgrass acquired and completely renovated to accommodate rapid growth.
The new brewery, located adjacent to the Manhattan Municipal Airport, features a four-vessel, automated 50-barrel brewhouse and 3,000 square feet dedicated to developing Tallgrass’ future sour beer program. Tallgrass intends to push production to nearly 30,000 barrels (bbls) in 2015 for distribution in 13 states. The facility enables Tallgrass to produce 100,000 bbls per year and expand on a national basis.
“Increasing our production capacity is very exciting. This new and larger facility will give us the space and ability to be a dynamic and creative brewer of not only more beer, but also those specialty and limited edition beers that we have been dreaming of making since we started the brewery,” said Jeff Gill, CEO and founder of Tallgrass.
Beyond its core products, Tallgrass is introducing 16-Bit Double IPA in its traditional 16-ounce cans, 8-Bit Pale Ale Game Over 24-Packs in 12-ounce cans, and a Ginger Peach Saison, all available in early summer. Also notable is the upcoming specialty release of Wooden Rooster, a Belgian-style Tripel aged in rye whiskey barrels which is sold exclusively in 19.2-ounce cans — a first in barrel-aged brew history.
The new brewery is a working facility, though Gill intends to open a 3,500-square foot tasting room and offer public tours beginning in early 2016. To further appease the palate of the brewery’s growing fan base, Tallgrass also is building the Tallgrass Tap House, a 5,900-square foot brewpub and restaurant with seating for 280 in the renewed downtown Manhattan shopping district — making it the largest restaurant in the thriving university town, which ranks No. 21 on Forbes’ “Top 100 Best Small Places for Business and Careers.”
“Manhattan has one of the best economies of any smaller city in America,” Gill said. “Tallgrass’ success is a reflection of what’s happening in our community. The brewpub and restaurant will cater to the Midwestern tastes of our patrons in a fun and creative way.”