Just six months after opening its doors, Platform Beer (4125 Lorain Ave., 216-202-1386, platformbeerco.com) is in the process of greatly expanding its brewhouse. Since opening day, brewer Shaun Yasaki has been working on a small 3-barrel system intended for the homebrewer incubator program. Soon, he’ll be cranking out a sea of craft beer from his shiny new 10-barrel system, which is being installed this week.
“The plan all along was to start with the 3-barrel system while Portland Kettle Works manufactured our 10-barrel system, which takes a lot longer,” explains owner Paul Benner. “Shaun has been brewing into 10-barrel fermentation tanks - essentially doing triple batches.”
While muscling all the new hardware into place is no easy feat, the owners planned ahead for this very day.
“When we laid out the space we did it in a manner where we gave ourselves room for incoming tanks,” Benner says.
But it’s not just the new brew system that visitors will spot on their next visit to Platform; the team also is installing a half-dozen new 15-barrel fermentation and conditioning tanks, not to mention a new boiler.
“This will take us from 46 barrels to nearly 150,” says Benner. “We’re hoping to hit 3,000 to 3,500 barrels in 2015. This will allow us to keep a nice, steady line up at the brewery, with 8 to 12 of our beers at all times. We’ll also be able to offer our seasonal flagship beers for four months instead of just one.”
Two new tanks will be dedicated to beers destined for distribution.
“We’re going to be very aggressive in our keg distribution, in addition to our New Cleveland Palesner and other seasonals in cans,” adds Benner.
Benner says he expects to have the new system up and running right after New Year’s.
Meanwhile, in Cleveland Heights, the two-and-a-half-year-old Bottlehouse Brewery (2050 Lee Rd., 216-214-2120, thebottlehousebrewingcompany.com) is in the midst of a major expansion as well. They recently have taken possession of a new 7-barrel system, which will be a huge improvement over the makeshift 2.5-barrel system, which originally was intended for brew-on-premises purposes. In addition to the new brew system, Bottlehouse added fermenters, bright tanks, glycol chillers, keg washers… “The whole nine yards,” says owner Brian Benchek.
“Obviously, we’ve been running ragged on this little tiny system, doing stuff that no small brewery has any business doing,” he says. “Not only will this system make our labor so much more efficient, but we’ll be able to start distributing.”
The jump from 350 barrels per year to almost four times that amount will allow Bottlehouse to get its draft craft beer into area bars and restaurants, and its bottles into stores like Heinen’s.
“Our model the whole time has been to service the community first and grow outward,” explains Benchek. “It took me a good year and half to just get comfortable operating the front of the house, which is a fulltime gig on its own. Now that I’ve got the right guys in place up front, I have more time to focus on the back.”
Consistently high demand for beers like Rising Star Coffee Stout and Erie Coast IPA, coupled with the fact that banks were eager to loan Benchek money, has resulted in this current expansion, he notes.
The new system should be fully functional sometime in the first quarter of 2015.
In other beer news: Brick and Barrel (1844 Columbus Rd., 216-331-3308, brickandbarrelbrewing.com), the long-delayed brewery in the Flats, finally is set to open its taproom to the public. This Wednesday, partners Karl Spiesman, Jason Henkel and Mike Dagiasis will welcome their first paying customers starting at 4 p.m.
Also, look for Portside Distillery and Brewery (983 Front Ave., 216-586-6633, portsidedistillery.com) to open its taproom this week as well.