Thursday, March 23, 2017

Beer Production for 2016 in Oshkosh and Beyond

The Department of Revenue has finally released the complete set of 2016 beer production reports for Wisconsin breweries. I'll share the local numbers in a moment, but first here's some background on what we'll be looking at.

The reports show the number of barrels of beer a brewery has produced for sale in any given month.
   • A barrel contains 31 U.S. gallons of beer.
   • That's the equivalent of 13.6 cases of beer.
   • Meaning each barrel contains about 330 twelve-ounce servings of beer.

Now to the meat of the matter. The big story locally is the continued rise of Fox River Brewing Company. In 2016, Fox River was among the fastest growing breweries in the State of Wisconsin.

The Oshkosh Brewhouse of Fox River Brewing Company

Fox River Brewing Company: 2546.64 barrels
That's an increase of more than 26% over last year's production. That's also the most beer Fox River has ever produced in a single year. There's more.

Over the past three years, production at Fox River has risen by just over 90%. The sharp increase coincides with the brewery's 2014 decision to get back into distributing its beer beyond its brewpubs.

The lion's share of Fox River's beer was produced in Appleton, where the brewery maintains its bottling line. In Appleton, Fox River produced 1,500 barrels in 2016, an increase of 34% on its 2015 output.

In Oshkosh, Fox River produced 1,046 barrels. That's an increase of 17% over the Oshkosh brewery's 2015 production.

Bare Bones Brewery: 438.5 Barrels
Bare Bones didn't begin showing up in the state reports until October 2015, so there's no meaningful comparison to the previous year's output. That said, there's something in the numbers worth noting.

The peak month production-wise for Bare Bones in 2016 was December when the brewery reported producing 63.75 barrels of beer.  That level of production defies most assumptions made about the brewery when it launched in 2015.

The consensus among many was that Bare Bones would thrive during the summer months when the WIOUWASH Trail was open. Conversely, business would slow when colder weather would keep bikers off the trail. The predicted winter slump appears not to have materialized. Production through the latter half of 2016 was strong at Bare Bones.

Now, on to breweries nearby...

Lion’s Tail Brewing: 220.76 Barrels
The Neenah brewery didn't begin reporting its output until 2016, so there are no year-to-year comparison points. However, I think it's safe to say production at Lion's Tail will increase in 2017. The brewery plans to expand its capacity and put more emphasis on distribution this year. That should translate into increased production.

Stone Arch Brewery: 2881.32 Barrels
They're holding steady at Stone Arch. The brewery produced 28.56 more barrels in 2016 than it produced in 2015. That's an increase of about 1%.

Appleton Beer Factory: 301.75 Barrels
ABF is the only brewery in the bunch that saw its production decline in 2016. The brewery's output was off by more than 25% in 2016. ABF produced 103 fewer barrels in 2016 than it did in 2015.

Knuth Brewing Company: 103 Barrels
Knuth Brewing in Ripon entered the state production reports in August 2015, so a year-to-year comparison isn't possible. Production has steadily risen at Knuth, though, since the installation a new 6-barrel system in August. This is another brewery you can expect to see grow in 2017.

Rowlands Calumet Brewing Company: 241 Barrels
A nice increase of 35 barrels – 14.5% more than the brewery's 2015 output. That's good to see. Established in 1990, Rowlands is the Grand Dad of modern brewing in our area. Rowlands, continues to have a dedicated fan base in its hometown of Chilton.

Overall, it's been another good year for beer in Oshkosh and the breweries in its vicinity. While the larger, nationally distributed craft breweries report sales declines, the local scene here continues to grow.

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