2015 was a different time. Three years ago the largest craft brewer in Kansas was positioning itself for both national distribution and hometown growth. In 2015, Tallgrass Brewing Co. completed a $7 million-plus build-out of a 60,000-sq-ft, state-of-the-art facility on the outskirts of Manhattan, Kan., quadrupling its capacity. 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.
But apparently the high demand for Tallgrass Brewing’s beer — brands like 8-Bit Pale Ale, Buffalo Sweat and Ethos IPA — have dramatically slowed with the insane amount of competition in the market. According to MHK Business News, which highlights businesses in Manhattan, Kan., Tallgrass suspended operations indefinitely this past Friday, August 24. Employees were to be “furloughed,” the company would be looking for new funding, but the Tallgrass Tap House would still remain in operation (it’s apparently a standalone entity). From the article:
“When I started this in 2007, there were 1,200 craft breweries in the country. Today, there are 6,600. The craft beer market is extremely challenging for smaller regional breweries right now,” said Jeff Gill, founder and former CEO of Tallgrass Brewing Company.
“A few short years ago, craft beer drinkers were going to the liquor store to buy their beer. As craft beer became more prolific, people started frequenting their local taproom or brewery instead of buying regional or national craft brands from the liquor store. For a small, regional brewery like Tallgrass, that shift hit us really hard,” said Gill.
According to the article, Tallgrass will be seeking new funding via private investors over the next few weeks but if unsuccessful it may be forced to shut down permanently. These are trepidatious times for the beer industry.