Earth Rider Brewery is making moves to expand its reach around the edges of Lake Superior and beyond.
“We’re planning a phased approach to expansion with the success of the Earth Rider beer brand finding its niche in the area,” CEO Tim Nelson told WisBusiness.com.
The company started making beer last year with a $100,000 grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, and expanded capacity in April of this year to keep up with growing demand for the company’s beer. Nelson recently opened a $1.5 million funding round, per a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
“This is part of our growth plan,” he said, noting that as the company gains more ground, “we can accept more fermenters and tanks… we can plug those in as needed.”
When Earth Rider launched in November 2017, it became the first local brewery in Superior since Northern Brewing shut down in 1967. The project involved over $2.5 million in private investment, with support coming from the City of Superior, the Douglas County Revolving Loan Fund, the Entrepreneur Fund, Nelson himself and others.
Earlier this year, the company brought in new machinery for fermentation and other processes which was made by W.M. Sprinkman Corp., a Waukesha steel manufacturer.
Company leaders then announced plans to expand just over the state line in Minnesota — about 40 miles away from Superior in Wisconsin.
Nelson said the current growth strategy is to target “key accounts” in a 90-mile radius, including tourist-heavy areas, and branch out from there.
“We’ll drop into our little zone there, say Hayward, and have a major account there that lets us do other outreach to our retail partners in that area,” he said. “We’re going up north to get into Ashland, into Bayfield County in the south shore… Then go to Cloquet in Minnesota, on the north shore of Lake Superior.”
He added the company has plans to open up other routes throughout the Iron Range region around the lake.
“This is exciting, as our goal is to be a Lake Superior watershed brewery,” he said. “Our goal is to service this zone first and foremost — go as deep as we can here before we think about going wide. That fits into our investment strategy as we grow.”
Earlier this year, Earth Rider Brewery got a bronze award at the 2018 World Beer Cup, a global beer competition with over 8,000 entries this year from about 2,500 breweries. Awards were given out in 101 categories at the Music City Center in Nashville, where Earth Rider got a nod for its North Tower Stout.
–By Alex Moe