By Brian Kaufenberg
In November of 2013, Excelsior Brewing Company announced their plans for an expansion project that would effectively quadruple their annual brewing capacity, triple their brewery footprint, increase their distribution across the Twin Cities, and revamp their taproom space.
During the last nine weeks, walls have come down, new walls have gone up, plumbing has been installed, and floors have been refinished. Installing the bar, the bottling line, and merging the two revamped spaces into one are next on the to-do list before the brewery opens its doors to the public for a Memorial Weekend Grand Opening celebration beginning May 24.
To fill the brewery’s demand, seven brand new 40 bbl fermentation tanks, two brite tanks, and a cold liquor tank will be added to the brewhouse, raising the Excelsior’s annual brewing capacity to 8,500 bbl. A brand new bottling line from the Czech Republic will increase their productivity by an estimated 600% according to Jennifer Johnson, senior brand manager for Excelsior, and allow the brewery to distribute six-packs to liquor stores all across the Twin Cities by mid-June.
The expansion project also includes a 4 bbl pilot brewing system, which the Excelsior brewing team will use to brew small-batch beers to fill the taproom’s 12–16 tap. The pilot system will also be used in a few special brewing events throughout the year that will bring the local community even closer to the brewery.
“The pilot system will occasionally be used for special events in coordination with our brewers and staff,” said Johnson. “…[W]e are hoping to have a few events throughout the year where we can invite experienced brewers in to collaborate and brew together.”
Excelsior Brewing, which sold 1,500 barrels last year, has built a loyal following over the past two years in the West Metro by focusing on meeting demand in their local market first before expanding beyond the Lake Minnetonka area.
“People loved the old taproom because you felt like you were in your best friend’s garage hanging out and having a few beers,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure we kept that laid back feeling with our new space, and think we’ve done a great job at it. We will have two garage doors that open in from the outside in to the new space, an alleyway patio where dogs are welcome and lots of bright light coming in to the space.”
Visit the brewery for their Grand Opening and Maibock release—the first beer in their new tanks—on May 24, and stop by the brewery this summer after a day on the water for a little taste of the Lake Life. You might find it suits you quite well.