STILLWATER, Minn. — Lift Bridge Brewery in Stillwater is expanding in a big way.
Company officials announced Tuesday, Jan. 2, that they plan to build a $10 million, 35,000-square-foot brewery and tap room in Stillwater. They are working with city officials in Stillwater and hope to get $1 million in tax-increment financing for the project, said Brad Glynn, co-founder and co-owner.
The brewery, which is currently located at 1900 Tower Drive W., needs more space, Glynn said. It has outgrown the 16,000 square feet it currently owns and leases, he said.
"We are completely out of space," he said. "We have had to rent an additional trailer for additional cooler space, which is really inefficient for moving things around for packaging. We need a bigger brew house, a bigger packing line, bigger fermentation tanks. Everything needs to get bigger and more efficient."
Lift Bridge will likely stay in the city's industrial area; they plan to announce the location of their new five-acre site within a few weeks, he said.
"The site needs to be five acres to accommodate visitors and truck traffic, so (staying) in the industrial area would make the most sense," he said.
Seeking space to grow
Lift Bridge, which was founded in 2008, is now the state's seventh largest brewery. In 2017, it produced just short of 20,000 barrels of beer. They expect to produce 27,000 barrels in 2018, he said.
"This new brewery will accommodate our growth up to about 70,000 barrels, which we expect in a 10-year plan," Glynn said. "We still want to grow steady — at about a 30 percent growth rate, which we have done for the past five years."
The five owners of Lift Bridge Brewery moved to Stillwater 17 years ago and met through mutual friends and through a neighborhood poker league. They shared a love of homebrewing. After two years of holding "brew sessions" in a garage — tasting their creations and swapping ideas — they decided to launch their company.
"We love Stillwater, and that's why we wanted to start the brewery here in the first place," said Glynn, 41, who has been homebrewing since he was 18. "It's super exciting. We thought that the craft brewery market could support us as long as we kept making great quality beer, and we were able to tell our story."
A draw for tourists
Lift Bridge Brewery has become a popular tourist destination and has even hosted a handful of weddings "amongst the fermentation tanks," he said.
"The experience of coming to the brewery and coming to the source where the beer is actually made makes for a really great experience for our customers and great brand connection," Glynn said. "It's great to be that destination when people come in from the Twin Cities and even locals to know where the beer is brewed, to actually see the equipment that it's brewed on and to really get our story here firsthand."
The new brewery and tap room is expected to open in the summer of 2019.