Third Space Brewing, a fast-growing Milwaukee-based craft beer producer, is aiming to double its production capacity with upgraded equipment and a new distribution partnership.
The company opened its doors in September 2016, and began canning its beer in March of this year. In its first full year, co-founder Andy Gehl says the brewery exceeded production goals, and will have sold about 2,200 barrels. Third Space also hired three full-time and 11 part-time employees.
“We had a really amazing first year,” he told WisBusiness.com. “Demand has been growing — that’s why we’re expanding.”
By increasing its capacity with bigger tanks — two 90-barrel fermentation tanks and one 90-barrel “bright” tank for storing and chilling the beer — the brewery plans to hike yearly production to 7,500 barrels. It’s located near Marquette University at 1505 W. St. Paul Ave.
“We need this capacity in 2018, because in peak times in summer, you need increased capacity,” Gehl said. “We’re expecting to significantly increase on that 2,200 barrels in 2018.”
The bigger tanks and a new whirlpool vessel in the brewhouse will allow Third Space to increase efficiency by brewing up to three batches in a single day, Gehl said.
“That allows us to produce a lot more beer in a shorter time frame so we can meet increased demand,” he said.
A new silo going up in front of the building will enable bulk deliveries of malt, which Gehl says brings down cost and sets up the company for further growth. And a new five-barrel pilot system will enable production of small-batch brews, making it easier to try out innovative flavor combinations.
“This gives us greater freedom for experimentation to test new recipes, new raw materials, and process improvements,” said Brewmaster Kevin Wright. “We also intend to use the pilot system to introduce some exciting new products in draft, cans, and bottles as part of our popular ‘In the Spirit’ and ‘Specialty IPA’ series.”
Gehl, who co-founded the company alongside Wright, runs sales and marketing for Third Space. He says they built the brewery with expansions like this in mind, so there’s no need to go looking for additional space.
Future growth will be supported by a wholesale distribution relationship between Third Space and Beechwood Sales and Service of New Berlin, which begins in January.
“Beechwood has an outstanding reputation for quality and customer service,” Gehl said.
Third Space currently sells beer onsite at its taproom and beer garden, as well as to about 250 draft and package customers in the greater Milwaukee area.
Dave Cartwright, craft manager for Beechwood, says the partnership will bring Third Space beers to a broader audience as it grows.
“I have known Kevin for several years, and have been a fan of his beers even before he started Third Space,” Cartwright said. “He and Andy make a great team, and have made Third Space a noteworthy player in the very vibrant local beer scene.”
Gehl predicts there will eventually be opportunities for growing distribution across the state, but for now, the company is focusing efforts on southeastern Wisconsin.
–By Alex Moe