Apparently Lift Bridge has been working on a relatively hush-hush expansion project since last winter. As the ambitious initiative to nearly double the brewery’s in-house production capacity approaches completion, the cat finally got out of the bag earlier this week. And the details are pretty impressive.
More beer = Bigger footprint
Where to start? The headline here is that Lift Bridge is expanding its in-house brewing capacity by about 75 percent, but that only begins to tell the story. The expansion will back a concerted push into outlying areas of Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wisconsin, where the brewery’s beers are technically available but often scarce. Discerning drinkers in places like Fargo, Grand Forks, and Green Bay could soon enjoy the steady supply of Farm Girl and Hop Dish.
To keep up with demand, Lift Bridge is deploying some impressive hardware. They’re adding five 60-gallon tanks to the arsenal. For those unfamiliar with the scale of commercial brewing, that’s equivalent to adding 800 cases of production to every batch brewed. Lift Bridge is adding new hot and cold water tanks into the mix as well, roughly doubling the size of its previous system. And the brewery is punching out its brewing floor and fermentation cellar to make room for all the tasty beer that’s about to pour out of its bigger-and-better equipment. All told, an additional 5,000 square feet of warehousing space is about to come online in Stillwater, both for storing raw materials and finished product.
Lab Coats Optional
Lift Bridge is also taking the opportunity to step its technological game up a notch. It’s putting in a new, semi-automated bottling line that looks to be both more efficient and higher-capacity than the previous system. A larger, cleaner lab and better yeast-propagation facilities will hopefully lead to more consistent, tasty beers as well — and may eventually set the stage for a sour beer program. One addition to Lift Bridge’s beer programming is set in stone, though. The added space and spiffier facilities will allow the brewery to expand an ambitious barrel aging program that could begin to bear fruit early next year. Oh, and it’s also hiring a full-time brewer — so polish up those resumes, homebrew enthusiasts.
If you want a firsthand look at the new and improved Lift Bridge, the brewery offers regularly scheduled tours on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. They’re free, but you need to pre-register and arrive promptly. If you just want a beer (or two), head down to its taproom during open hours:
- Tuesday-Thursday 5-10 p.m.
- Friday-Saturday 12-10 p.m.
- Sunday 12-6 p.m.
Right now they’ve got Farm Girl (duh), Hop Dish IPA, Chestnut Hill Brown, Gateway Pilsner, Crosscut Pale Ale, and Crosscut Nitro on tap, with growlers of everything but Crosscut Nitro available. Selections are subject to change, so check the above link before visiting. And get ready for a whole lot more Lift Bridge beer in a store near you.