Atwater Brewery's production, which grew dramatically in 2014, is set to reach even higher heights this year as the company becomes a national brand in craft brewing.
The riverfront-based brewery sold in excess of 40,000 barrels of beer last year, raising its sales by 68 percent compared to 2013. It expects to hit 60,000 barrels of beer this year. Atwater Brewery is also in the process of opening up two more remote production facilities across the U.S.
"We would have done more if we had more capacity in 2014," says Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Atwater Brewery was one of Michigan's early craft breweries, opening in 1997. Rieth took over the operation in 2005 and set the brewery on a strong growth track. It is now the biggest brewery in metro Detroit and the third-largest brewery in Michigan on the strength of the sales of its popular beers like Dirty Blonde Ale and Vanilla Java Porter. Atwater Brewery has also expanded its staff, making eight hires in marketing, sales and production over the last year. It now employs 38 people and plans to hire 20 more to keep up with its production goals.
"We're going to add 10 people this year and 10 in 2016," Rieth says.
Those new employees will be working in the soon-to-be-newly expanded production space on Jos. Campau close to where the street dead ends at the Detroit Riverfront. Atwater Brewery is adding 40,000 square feet of production space to that facility, installing new state-of-the-art German Brewhaus equipment.
It is also building a new brewery in Austin, Texas, to handle its West Coast expansion. Next year it plans to open another brewery in North Carolina. Atwater is also working to enter Canadian markets next year, along with Colorado, California, New York, and New Jersey. The goal is to hit 300,000 barrels of production within five years.
"We are looking at doing 150,000 barrels in Detroit," Rieth says. "We are looking at two other locations in Austin, Texas and North Carolina, which should come online by the end of 2016."
Atwater Brewery is also working to expand its product offerings. It will launch new Atwater Spirits and Detroit Dry Cider brands this year and plans to begin offering 16-ounce can options for some of its beers. Most of its new products will only be available at its local brewery tap rooms and Atwater in the Park
brewpub in Grosse Pointe.
Source: Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke