Short’s Brewing Company announced its “$3 million band aid” on Wednesday.
The company purchased two acres next to its existing production facility in Elk Rapids, which will help Short’s begin construction this summer on new brewing facilities. The brewery also bought a new water treatment system and bottling line.
Although there has been focus on the brewery’s recently announced $1.2 million expansion to its Bellaire pub, COO Matt Drake said the production facility upgrade will be crucial to the company’s growth.
“It’s part of a solution to the issue that we bumped into of maxing out our brewery,” Drake said. “We got as big as we could and we didn’t think we’d get to that point.”
Even with their mission of distributing in Michigan, the demand keeps growing at a quick rate, Drake said. Last year, the company brewed roughly 30,000 barrels, a sharp incline from when the production facility opened in 2009, as production volume has grown more than 30 percent each of the past five years. The facility underwent a $2 million expansion in 2012.
The new bottling line was designed by Krones, and will be an upgrade to its current “hodgepodge system.” It will fill 150 bottles a minute, a 300 percent improvement to the current filler. It’s been a $1.55 million project and will be operation on May 1.
The second addition is a 150,000 gallon aerobic wastewater pre-treatment system. The buy was to help ease the brewery’s effect on Elk Rapids, Drake said.
“We’re making so much beer, the waste water has to go somewhere,” he said. “So, we’ll put it in a pre-treatment center and deliver clean water to our village here in Elk Rapids.”
That water reuse will add to the system already in place that send its beer byproducts to the Freemont Community Digester which converts it into useable fuel. “So what will be generated from our brewing is clean what that we deliver and energy,” Drake said.
The moves will ensure they can continue to provide Elk Rapids with jobs and a community-based manufacturing business.
“There’s been a decade or more of continued growth on that site,” he said. “This is a really exciting announcement because it means we can stay here. We can build a campus.