ESCANABA — A U.P. Brewery that made its first sale less than a year ago reports that their expansion process is slightly ahead of schedule.
The original layout for Upper Hand Brewery in Escanaba allowed them to brew approximately 5,000 barrels of beer per year. With the growing popularity of the beer along with the dedicated work from the employees, that amount was made in about six weeks. So expansion was necessary to fulfill the demand from the U.P. The expansion is focused on increasing both fermentation and warehouse capacity.
“This will become the fermentation cellar behind me,” said Upper Hand Brewery Production Manager Sam Reese, “with an additional thousand barrels of fermentation capacity. So that’s ten 100 barrel tanks, that’s bigger than any of the tanks that we currently have. The warehouse expansion is increasing that space and that usable cold and warm storage, plus adding some outdoor storage. That overall increases that by about 300%”
Upper Hand Brewery is a division of Bell’s Brewery, which makes it no surprise that they’ve had success so far. This construction project will allow them to spread their product to a larger audience.
“We’re going to start expanding our geographical sales, so we’re going to start moving west,” said Bell’s Brewery President Larry Bell, “that’s always been our original plan so next up is going to be Northern Wisconsin, and then we hope over time to get to Minnesota and North Dakota. But we wanted to make sure that first and foremost, we want to take care of the U.P. The whole thing is about celebrating Upper Peninsula culture through beer.”
With the added space for fermentation and storage, Upper Hand Brewery will be able to do just that featuring ingredients from the U.P.
“We’ll be bottling ‘Yooper’ in 2016, we’ve had that out in draft,” added Bell, “that’s made with oats grown here in the U.P. We just got approval for our Christmas Time Oatmeal Stout that will be out in November and again made with good ol’ U.P. grown oats. It’s a real pretty package and will be a nice firm beer for the cold holiday season.”
The project is expected to be complete during mid–December.