Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Beer Production in Oshkosh – The First Half of 2016

Kevin Bowen, Brewmaster at Fox River Brewing Co., in the Oshkosh Brewery
The Wisconsin Department of Revenue reports on beer production in Wisconsin are now complete for the first six months of 2016. Hiding in the stream of numbers is an interesting story developing in Oshkosh. I’ll get to that, but first let’s get to the raw data.

This is the amount of beer produced in Oshkosh through June of this year. The figures are reported in barrels (a barrel of beer is 31 U.S. Gallons, or about 13.75  cases).

Bare Bones Brewery: 157.75 Barrels
Fox River Brewing Company – Oshkosh Brewery: 502.03 Barrels
Total amount of beer produced in Oshkosh: 659.78 Barrels

Let’s get behind those numbers. We'll start with Fox River Brewing.

The production records that were set last year at Fox River are in the process of being obliterated this year. Production at the Oshkosh brewery is up just over 26% in comparison to the same period last year. That’s just part of the Fox River story. At Fox River’s Appleton facility, where the brewery operates a bottling line, production has increased over 50% when compared to the first six months of 2015.

Fox River Brewing Company – Appleton Brewery: 687.78 Barrels

The trend appears even more extreme when you look at Fox River’s growth over the past four years. Production this year is up 133% in comparison to the first six month of 2013. At this point Fox River Brewing has to be among the fastest growing breweries in the state. That could become a problem.

At the end of last year, Fox River was nearing capacity at its two facilities. It’s difficult to see how they’ll be able to sustain this level of growth without expanding their production capabilities in some substantial way. It’s going to be an interesting second half of the year.

Now over to Bare Bones: The brewery didn’t begin producing beer until July 2016. That leaves us without a month-to-month comparison for the first half of the year. So, we’re left looking at average monthly output. And in this case that’s not a good comparison point. Most breweries, tend to produce less beer during the first half of the year than they do in the second half.

With that in mind, there’s good news coming out of Bare Bones. Average monthly production last year was just under 22 bbls. Through the first six months of this year it’s just over 26 bbls. That’s a trend that bodes well for the brewery.

OK, I like numbers, so let’s take a look at a few nearby breweries and see how they’re faring

Lion’s Tail Brewing, Neenah: 103.57 bbls.
Lion’s tail didn’t begin showing up in the state reports until this past April. Its first beers were produced at the Appleton Beer Factory. Now that production has been brought in-house, the second half of the year will tell us much more. From what I’ve seen, it looks as though things are going quite well there.

Knuth Brewing, Ripon: 40 bbls.
Knuth began reporting production in January 2016. The brewery just installed a new, larger brew system, so we’re bound to see increased production coming out of Ripon.

Appleton Beer Factory: 146.25 bbls.
That’s down about 10% over the same period last year.

Stone Arch/Stone Cellar, Appleton: 1379.57 bbls.
That up almost 9% over the first six months of last year.

Rowland’s Calumet Brewing, Chilton: 110 bbls.
An increase of 13% over last year’s first six months.

Overall, we’re seeing encouraging signs for brewing in this part of the state. Good news for all of us who like to drink locally made beer.

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