Belching Beaver brewmaster Troy Smith stands in the company's large new production facility in Oceanside.
Belching Beaver Brewing has been in serious expansion mode this spring. In March, the company more than quadrupled its capacity by moving in to a 30-barrel production brewery in Oceanside. Meanwhile, its original 15-barrel Vista brewhouse will remain online, even as the final touches go in to a 10-barrel brewpub expected to open in Vista Village imminently. As if that weren't enough, within the next two months, it plans to open a new tasting room 40 miles south, in Ocean Beach.
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"We're kind of doing everything at once," says CEO Tom Vogel. "That was not intended — just the timing of the equipment getting here."
That said, the timing does coincide with a push to grow the brewer’s reach throughout California and beyond. A new bottling line allows Belching Beaver to branch out from 22-ounce bottle distribution to 12-ounce six-packs of its core beers.
"Since we've started brewing…we've opened up Oregon, Washington, and Northern California," Vogel says. "We're shipping out to Mexico now, Las Vegas, and we're looking to Arizona now as our next big push."
Vogel points out that he actually sold the rights to Belching Beaver's local distribution to acquire the capital to start this round of expansion. He expects the Oceanside facility to increase Belching Beaver's output from 10,000 barrels in 2015 to 40,000 this year — more if demand requires it. He says keeping up with demand has been a challenge for the nearly four-year-old brewery, prompting the new growth: "We basically had no beer, so we had to expand."
The patio in Vista offers a clue as to how busy the Beaver has been.
The brewpub has been in the works almost two years. The converted former bank building will feature in-house brews, a restaurant, and full bar, while a large patio will add an outdoor dimension to Vista Village's growing beer scene.
Brewer Thomas Peters is moving over from Belching Beaver's original site to work the brewpub, and Vogel says he has carte blanche to produce small-batch beers that will exclusively be available on site or in one of the company's tasting rooms.
Since brewmaster Troy Smith moved to Oceanside to build and oversee the scaled-up production, this leaves the original location to be run by former Toolbox brewer Peter Perricone. Perricone will produce one-off beers for distribution and is developing a sour program. With 280 oak barrels already at work, Perricone says he hopes to release bottles of his first sours with Belching Beaver as soon as early summer.
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That may roughly coincide with the opening of a Newport Avenue tasting room in Ocean Beach. Including its current North Park tasting room, and another being constructed at the Oceanside facility, the O.B. location will give Belching Beaver five locations countywide.
This will probably hold the Beaver for awhile. Though Vogel says there's room enough in the new production site to increase it to a 100-barrel system, Vogel and his team look forward to finishing this round of growth.
"We're hoping six months from now we're just going to sleep."