Among America's Fastest Growing Breweries
So, some good news this week. We’ve been named one of the fastest growing small and independent craft breweries in America by the Brewers Association—the trade group representing small and independent craft brewers.
We’re chuffed about this distinction, of course, but to be honest we only care about growth insofar as it’s the goodness inside the glass that’s leading more and more Alaskans to pick up a BRBC brew. As Jake says: “The growth happens naturally if quality is at the forefront.”
A few stats here from the Brewers Association: we were ranked 41 among 50 small and independent breweries. Median growth from 2016 to 2017 for these breweries was 216 percent. These brewing companies represent 5.5 percent of craft’s growth by volume for 2017 and include eight brewpubs, 40 microbreweries and two regional craft breweries. Obviously, we fit into that larger category of a microbrewery.
And here’s what Bart Watson, Chief Economist of the Brewers Association, had to say about the ranking: “With 5 percent growth overall for small and independent brewers in 2017—and microbreweries and brewpubs delivering the majority of that—we wanted to spotlight some of the breweries driving that growth. As the growth base for craft becomes more diffuse, these fast growing brewing companies illustrate that a diverse set of success stories still exist.” In other words, small, locally focused craft breweries are making it happen in the US economy, and what’s happening in craft beer across the USA is happening in a big way in our State, too. If you’re a craft beer drinker, there’s never been a better time to be an Alaskan.
So, how has the BRBC grown? Well, rather than hitting you with some mind-numbing stats, we thought we would offer a short photoessay, with captions. Here we go:
Since the Brewers Association’s ranking recognized growth in 2017, we won’t mention where we first started, with an empty warehouse:
We also won’t mention the work that went into constructing the brewery and the taproom, transforming our 4605 E. Palmer-Wasilla Hwy space from this:
We also have absolutely no intention of mentioning Jake’s early homebrewing years, where cut his teeth with super small batches week in and week out:
We probably shouldn’t even mention the Kickstarter campaign where tons of amazing folks from all over the world helped us raise the cash we needed to open the taproom:
No, when thinking about the brewery’s growth in 2017 we should probably start back in 2015, with the delivery of our first compliment of kegs, which Jake picked up in his old beater:
That’s how we started out: self-distributing kegs to all the friendly nearby bars and restaurants who took a chance to put us on tap. Here’s Jake driving some of those kegs around, with the hydraulic arm he installed on his pickup:
The next step in the brewery’s evolution – and this was a big step! – was our partnership with the awesome team at Specialty Imports, who started out selling kegs of Frontiersman IPA, Mat Maid Milk Stout, and Sluice Box Belgian Ale from Fairbanks down to the peninsula:
With the advent of this partnership we ditched Jake’s hydraulic keg-lifting arm and got ourselves a forklift, perhaps one of the most popular toys in the brewery:
Shortly after partnering with Specialty Imports we started bottling the Frontiersman IPA and Mat Maid Milk Stout:
And Specialty helped us get those bottles out on the shelves:
For our next big move we wanted to get our beer into cans, which involved bringing in some larger tanks:
And of course a canning line:
This expansion also included a project with the great team at Saltwater Creative, who designed our new can and bottle labels:
And of course we worked closely with Specialty Imports, who has been helping us get 6-packs out to all of you:
We’re now canning our special release beers as well, our most recent being the Pacific Gravity Mexican Lager:
It goes without saying – but we’ll say it anyway – that we wouldn’t have made it this far without the awesome team we have at BRBC. Here are their smiling faces:
So, what’s next? Well, in short, more delicious beer. We have a few new projects in the pipeline, and with these – as with everything we do – we will be guided by the hop-muse, inspired by our local community of fellow beer-drinkers, and driven in a quest to make the next batch of beer the best batch we have ever made. Here’s Jake, gazing out of a beer window, pondering the future:
Brewers Association Methodology: The list presented includes only small and independent breweries with all of their production at their own facilities. Breweries had to have opened 12/31/2015 or earlier to be considered. It only includes breweries that reported to the Brewers Association’s annual Beer Industry Production Survey; breweries with staff estimates or data from state excise tax reports were not considered. Finally, breweries must have had data from at least three years to be considered.