Something's Brewing in Wyoming

Sunday, May 01, 2016

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Across the United States, people are raising their glasses and building an industry based on quality craft beverages. Wyoming is no exception. The number of breweries grows each year. Wyoming’s distilleries are also growing. And, where there is demand, supply will follow. The economic development value is twofold. Beer and alcohol tourism is a growing part of the travel market and Wyoming offers over two dozen destinations. The actual process of brewing craft beverages and distributing it on a larger scale provides quality jobs, often in smaller communities looking for growth.

In just a few short years, Sheridan’s BLACK TOOTH BREWING COMPANY has grown to the largest brewery in Wyoming with around 10,000 barrels of beer produced in 2015. The brewery has plans to reach 50,000 barrels a year with distribution across Wyoming and into seven surrounding states. The fast expansion is made possible by truly fantastic beer and aggressive marketing to new areas. Construction of an 8,500 square foot microbrewery was completed last June, and their sales were up 40 percent year-to-date for the first half of 2015.

CHEYENNE & LARAMIE BEVERAGE , which expanded to its own 51,000 square foot distribution center in Cheyenne’s Niobrara Industrial Park this year, has partnered with Black Tooth to deliver the microbrewery’s beer to southeast Wyoming.

One of Wyoming’s earliest brewers, SNAKE RIVER BREWING , is also expanding its distribution. It has partnered with Utah Craft Beverages, LLC, to move its brews in the Beehive State. Readily available around Wyoming, beers including Pako’s IPA, Zonker Stout, Snake River Pale Ale, Jenny Lake Lager and Monarch Pilsner will be available in restaurants and bars in Salt Lake and Ogden area. Liquor stores could be a next step.

The Town of Alpine applied for and received a $2,949,425 Business Committed grant from Wyoming Business MANUFACTURING CONTINUES GROWTH continued The business of happy hour is proving to be a big opportunity for Wyoming entrepreneurs. continued Council to install infrastructure for the expansion of MELVIN BREWING . Melvin Brewing’s beers, currently available at Thai Me Up Restaurant and Brewery in Jackson, have earned a long list of awards including the industry’s top honor this year: Small Brewpub and Small Brewpub of the Year from the Great American Beer Festival.

The grant is paying for construction of a 20,000 square-foot building and utility extensions to the site. Alpine will own the land, building and infrastructure, and develop access to the site. The town will lease the facility to Melvin Brewing. The brewery will increase production with a custom made brewing system. The partnership is expected to work well for both sides. Up to 30 quality jobs and added tax base will strengthen existing community infrastructure, and support future economic development projects.

GRAND TETON DISTILLERY is considering moving its headquarters—currently in Driggs, Idaho—and a production facility to Alpine as well.

Late in 2015, Laramie County received a $2,859,784 Business Committed grant and a $557,935 Business Ready Community loan to construct a 20,000 square-foot building for WYOMING MALTING COMPANY. The building will include a manufacturing and warehouse facility with business offices. The building will be constructed on a 10-acre parcel in the Pine Bluffs business park located north of town. Cheyenne LEADS will own the facility and lease it to Wyoming Malting Company and PINE BLUFFS DISTILLING.

Wyoming Malting Company will be the first craft malt house in Wyoming. The company is hoping to meet the demands of area breweries, possibly including breweries in Wyoming and 200 in Colorado. There are currently only 31 malt companies in the country. The majority of the malt for Wyoming and Colorado is transported from the northwest, Wisconsin or imported from Canada. JACKSON HOLE STILL WORKS , a small batch spirits distiller, indicates they are interested in buying malt from Wyoming Malting as soon as the product is available.

Pine Bluffs Distilling will distill craft whiskey and other spirits with a portion of the malt that is manufactured. Cash flow from the malt house will sustain the distillery while the products age and can ultimately be sold.

Family farms, such as PURDY FARMS , will grow the grains used to malt and distill. Additional farms in the Pine Bluffs area have indicated interest in selling grain as needed. Wyoming Malting will have an initial capacity of 600,000 pounds per year which is roughly 64% of the Wyoming market and 1% of the regional market.

Waste products can be used as feed for farm animals.

The company will start out with three full time jobs and plans to increase to nine new quality jobs within five years. The project fits Wyoming Business Council’s goals for business development and agricultural diversification particularly well. The business plans to promote agri-tourism by making the facility a destination for visitors. The products will also be marketed as Wyoming-made through the Wyoming First program.

WYOMING WHISKEY continues to develop a reputation, winning five awards in whiskey competitions around the country in 2015. The stamps of approval are a good sign for the company as it continues to ramp up production and make moves to expand its market. The company hired a specialist this year to take a taste of Kirby to the east coast. A tasting room in Jackson will also help take Wyoming Whiskey into other markets. Products can also be seen in the television show “Longmire.”

KOLTISKA , out of Sheridan, has taken a slow and steady attitude about growth since beginning production in 2005. Distribution encompasses Wyoming with fingers of growth into Montana, western Nebraska and other surrounding areas. The liqueur company moved to a new facility this year, nearly doubling the size of the operation. The expansion reflects a new, focused attitude about growth into a more national market.

And, in its first year, BACKWARDS DISTILLERY in Mills is making a splash with Ringleader Vodka, Sword Swallower Rum, Contortionist Gin, Strongman Gin and Milk Can Moonshine. The family-run business has grown steadily since opening last January.

The business of happy hour is proving to be a big opportunity for Wyoming entrepreneurs. It offers growth for the individual and benefits several economic sectors. It’s an investment to which we can all lift a glass.

Category: Success Stories