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Karbach set to expand

Good for them.

Fast-growing Karbach Brewing Co. intends next year to build a new brewery that will give it the capacity to make three times as much beer as it has made in 2013 and, eventually, several times that.

The $15 million project, to be announced Tuesday, will begin with a 1.2-acre tract adjacent to the current brewery at 2032 Karbach. The 19,000-square-foot, two-story facility will include a public tap room and kitchen that will be open daily and space upstairs that will be available for special events.

It also will include a brewhouse from German manufacturer Ziemann that is four times as large as the existing one, modern storage areas for grain and yeast and a laboratory for quality control testing.

Brewmaster Eric Warner said he expects to be brewing test batches in the new place next October or November and producing beer for sale in early 2015. He said stronger-than-expected growth has put Karbach on an “aggressive timeline” to get the facility ready to keep pace with demand.

“It’s just nuts,” Warner, a well-known figure in craft brewing before he arrived in Houston from Colorado 21/2 years ago, said of the red-hot market for craft beer here. “I’ve never seen anything like that.”

Karbach’s growth is rare even in the exploding craft segment, said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association trade group. With expected production of 19,000 barrels for 2013, Karbach is in the midsize group that starts at 15,001 barrels and goes up to 6 million.

Of the nation’s 2,600 craft breweries and brewpubs, only 120 are in that category. Herz said it typically takes startup breweries much longer to reach that status.

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Warner said Karbach considered going outside the city limits, where property is less expensive, but determined Houston is the better environment for a brewery. As land became available around the existing plant, the decision was easy, he said.

Preliminary renderings show a handsome brick fa├žade and steel building facing Dacoma with outdoor seating and an upstairs balcony, with views of the brewing and fermentation areas.

The front part of the downstairs will be largely for the public, who will be able to purchase beer for consumption on site thanks to recent changes in state law. Warner said the food menu won’t be extensive but will include items made with locally sourced ingredients.

Yes, another success of the craft beer legislation that finally passed the Legislature this time around. We’ll be celebrating that victory – and, I hope, adding on to it – for many years. I’m glad to hear that Karbach decided to stay within the city limits, too. I look forward to seeing the new place. Best of luck to them with construction.

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One Comment

  1. Bill Daniels says:

    Agreed. I haven’t tried their beer, but it is always nice to see business expanding. And the recent change in the law permitting craft brewers to sell on premises was a nice start, but what really needs to happen is the whole byzantine system of alcohol laws needs to be repealed. An alcohol manufacturer should be free to sell their product however they want. If they want to sell it onsite, great. If they want to skip the middleman wholesaler and sell it directly to retail stores, that’s great, too. Our alcohol distribution laws, like our automobile distribution laws, are another example of crony capitalism.

    “Sure, you can sell your product, as long as our campaign contributors get a cut of the action.” Something is rotten in Denma…..er, in Texas.

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