"I'm not going to lie, it's slightly nerve-racking," admits Market Garden Brewery's Sam McNulty. "We're going to have to sell all this beer."
McNulty is referring to the roughly 60,000 barrels per year that his new 35-barrel brewhouse will crank out from the "Palace of Fermentation," the 43,000-square-foot facility he's renovating just north of the West Side Market.
In terms of brewhouse size, that lands the new MGB production facility squarely between Great Lakes Brewing (75 bbl) and Fat Head's production brewery (25 bbl). In contrast, the Market Garden Brewery brewpub system is 10 barrels.
The equipment, officially ordered this week, will be fabricated in Germany and shipped to Ohio City this fall.
"It's a bit of a lead time," explains head brewer Andy Tveekrem. "We've been researching this move for well over a year. We flew over to Germany and visited various fabricators. We liked what these guys had to offer and took tours of some of their installations over there."
Similar equipment is not readily available over here, he notes.
"It's a step up in terms of process, control and efficiency from our system at Market Garden Brewery," he says.
While it might sound counterproductive to build a whole new brewery just yards from the brewpub, Tveekrem says the opposite is true. "It's more efficient to have a brewpub and production brewery," he says. "It allows the brewpub to focus on specialty beers and the production brewery to focus on flagship beers like Pearl Street Wheat, Citramax IPA, Wallace Tavern Scotch Ale and Progress Pilsner."
In addition to traveling to the brewpub, beer brewed at the larger brewery will be bottled, kegged and self-distributed throughout the region.
Tours and tastings will be a large component of the new operation, says McNulty. "A lot of breweries add tours and tastings as an afterthought," he says. "We're thinking about that from the start."
The brewhouse will be visible from the two-level tasting room. Catwalks winding through the brewhouse will give visitors a bird's-eye view of the tank farm. And retail space will offer the full line of MGB beers to go. The new façade of the building will be clad in glass.
"This really helps us bring a lot more people to the area, where they can tour our breweries and others in the area," says Tveekrem. "This will really make it a destination for a lot of people."
This brewery will be the sixth that Tveekrem has helped design and put into operation, he says, and each is better than the last. "Each time you build another, it's a chance to do something different, better," he says. "You keep learning and say to yourself, Okay, this time we're really going to do it right. Ultimately, you do what your budget allows."
"It's going to be pretty remarkable, I think."
Photo courtesy of Bob Perkoski.