Yakima’s Oldest Craft Brewery Still In Expansion Mode

 

Yakima Craft Brewing Co. Adds New Equipment, Distribution Areas

By Molly Allen
Business is really hopping over at Yakima Craft Brewing Co.
Since the new owners took over the business in February 2017, the brewery has more than doubled its production and distribution, recently adding two new brite tanks to its brewing system in response to the business’ rapid growth.
The company is now producing 250 barrels per month, compared to 63 per month in 2016. That kind of increase requires the best equipment you can buy.
Brite tanks are integral to the brewing process. Once a batch of beer is fermented, it moves on to the brite tank for carbonation before packaging.
Fortunately for owners Jonathan Thomas and Aimee Quast, the original brew house at 2920 River Road was built to be expanded easily, allowing for simple installation of new tanks.
However, the additional equipment wasn’t necessary until now.
“At this point, we’re covering about 70 percent of Washington,” said Tim Butterfield, the sales and marketing director for the brewery. “We definitely have more of a presence in retail now.”
Distribution of Yakima Craft products has increased significantly over the last few months.
In June, the brewery expanded into Oregon territory.
“Once we went into Oregon, it was evident we couldn’t keep up with production with our existing equipment,” Butterfield said.
The move into Oregon was personal for Thomas and Quast, who are both from the state and currently live in Portland. Since taking over, they’ve wanted friends and family to have access to their products.
Owning the Yakima brewery has allowed them to realize that dream.
Prior to 2017, the brewery worked with just one distributor, reaching only the Spokane and Yakima areas.
Since then, the company has added five additional distributors, allowing Yakima Craft to round out its Washington distribution.
The brewery recently partnered with Fred Meyer, which will carry Yakima Craft products in 10 to 15 stores across Washington this fall. When stores do their fall reset, every Fred Meyer store in Washington and Oregon will be carrying Yakima Craft products.
At this point, the brewery is still looking into other expansion options after the addition of the two brite tanks.
Yakima Craft does not have a canning line on site, so that may be the next step.
According to Butterfield, the company has grown so much in such a short period of time that management is looking at additional areas of the production facility that may be able to accommodate more growth.
Yakima Craft Brewing is the oldest local brewery still in existence. It was established in 2007 and released its first beer in 2008.
Thomas and Quast took over in early 2017, bringing on Butterfield and Ashley Henry, the taproom and outside sales manager.
Since then, the company has been fighting an uphill battle to rebrand and change people’s minds about what defines Yakima Craft and what it can become, Butterfield said.
“It’s something we have worked really hard at,” he said, adding that opening the new all-ages taproom last winter was a major step for the business.
“With the taproom and distribution, we’ve more than doubled in size in the last year,” he added. “Just in the taproom, we’re doing more business in one weekend than we used to do in a month.”
Yakima Craft is still working on additional expansion plans, but the team is taking it one day at a time. For the time being, though, nobody seems to be slowing down.
The brewery has released 12 new beers over the last 13 months.
“We are still developing more and more,” Butterfield said. “And we’re certainly a lot different than we were even just a year ago.”

 

*Originally published in the Yakima Business Times

Originally published in the Yakima Business Times 

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