Monday, October 22, 2012

Epic Plans Denver Brewery

It was a little over two years ago that Epic Brewing turned an old Asian noodle house into Utah's first all high gravity brewery since the end of prohibition.

Since then the brewery has exploded both in Utah and around the nation, so much that production out of the small - ever expanding State Street brew house is nearing capacity.

To keep up with demand, owners Dave, Peter & Kevin decided they needed a new brewery. The problem is, Utah - though a burgeoning craft beer market it's still not exactly a "beer friendly" place to do business.

Now Denver is a beer friendly city. 63% of all the craft beer jobs in the U.S. are located in Colorado. If your going to set up a brewery, there are far worse places.

Well the cat is out of the bag, Epic's Denver brew house is in the works and will likely be operational sometime in 2013. Many have speculated that Epic is making this move, due to the recent denial to rezone the street to the east of the brewery. This isn't so. The Denver brewery has been in the planning for many, many months, the timing of this recent decision just happened to coincide with the new brewery announcement. Salt Lake City didn't drive Epic to Denver they were already on their way.

This isn't all set in stone, Epic has been having difficulties securring property in downtown Denver. If these difficulties continue Epic could start looking at California to open its new brewery.

So I'll put some questions for you all  to debate. Will this new relationship with Denver alter Epic's Relationship with SLC?

Is Denver too close to close to SLC to make a difference in national distribution?

Cheers!

12 comments:

Michael said...

This makes little sense unless Epic is planning on phasing out brewing in SLC. If you build a large production brewery in Denver, what would the SLC brewery provide you? Certainly it would be cheaper to ship some bottles back this way rather than to continue brewing and bottling them here. They obviously have an excellent distribution network already.

The bottom line to me and others is that Epic has always been about markets outside of SLC. The amount of expansion they have seen is not due to Utah consumption. They came in with a serious business plan, and in my mind that plan was never to be a local brewery for long. It would be interesting to see what the split is on volume sold locally Vs. nationally for them. I imagine that no other Utah brewery comes close to what they are doing.

I don’t think Epic is evil, I like a lot of Epic beer, don’t get me wrong. However, I prefer to support other Utah brewers that focus on this market first even though the man can make it difficult.

Ed said...

"Certainly it would be cheaper to ship some bottles back this way rather than to continue brewing and bottling them here."

I don't know that that's true -- especially when they've already invested so much in the brewery on State.

DJ Benway said...

NOOOO!!! Utah's best craft brewer leaving Utah....and for Denver? Well at least we still have Desert Edge, they're not going anywhere.

Unknown said...

Feels a little like disloyalty to the soldiers and the fight going on in Utah. Will Epic find a better place and then more-or-less abandon things here in SLC?

russell jack said...

well, that's the nail in the coffin. i love utah's local beer scene, and when epic came, i thought it a welcome addition. as i followed them online, and went to their events, though, they seemed to be more interested in expansion and sales than getting involved in the culture.

also always felt a bit like their emphasis was more on sales rather than quality of brew (with a few exceptions).

Rio seemed really nice, though, and i'm hoping his new venture can speak more to utah's beer culture than epic ever did.

DC said...

Epic is not leaving SLC. Never will, it is our home.

We still sell over 80% of our beer in the State of Utah and see sales growth in our own state continuing to expand almost exponentially. We are successful because of Utah's sophisticated beer consumers; not in spite of them or the State. Utah is our history and will not be forgotten. We will keep making fresh, over the top beers for our friends and neighbors in Utah for decades, if not generations.

We want to invest even more in Utah, we need to make our SLC brewery bigger and keep most of that beer in Utah. The re-zoning story is not done yet and we have very high hopes to make at least one more expansion on State Street in the coming months. We want full strength beer on tap in Utah and will continue to push for that as well.

We hope more brewers like Rio are inspired to add to Utah’s fine, growing beer culture. He and I talked about his new project in the Aves during the City Weekly Beer Fest months ago; we talked about mutual support. I can’t wait to have beers at his place, near my neighborhood, especially after speaking at the City Council meeting in favor for changes to zoning making it possible for others to open pubs in cool spaces around town. I was there to push our culture and discredit the anecdotal evidence provided against the proposal by Eagle Forum types.

Yes, we appear to make “little sense” and are pretty happy doing so. Plenty of people told us we would fail and our idea was lame three years ago. Now with four GABF medals, over 20 other awards and a relentless focus on the liquid inside each bottle, I am glad we listened to Del, who told us “you guys don’t seem like morons so you will be fine” instead of the naysayers.

Nice story Mikey, the cat sure jumped out of the bag unexpectedly. I think it was Boozer the cat, he’s a troublemaker. Cheers!

KAGent777 said...

" We want full strength beer on tap in Utah and will continue to push for that as well."

Well said Dave. I wholeheartedly agree! My question is this: Do the local breweries that have a line-up of 4.0 ABV beer have the same support for full strength tap beer? An increased keg ABV limit may hurt business for them temporarily. I feel the 4.0 ABV keg limit is the most offensive beer law this state has, and would love to see it gone. It is nuts that I cannot consume a high ABV SLC brewed beer on draft here in Utah.

I also would buy more Epic it they were available in cans or 12 bottles.

Love what you brew, keep it flowing.

Cheers,
Scott

DC said...

Hey Scott
Almost every brewer in the State brews >4% brews. More and more 3.2 beer is coming into the state from other brewers as it is, so I think the time has come drop drop the ABV restriction. Utah makes great beer, no need to fear the outside world!

Who knows what we might do package wise if we had more space ;)

Cheers,

Dave

Michael said...

Dave, since we have you held captive to this thread, can you provide some details on what you are doing to get full strength beer on tap in Utah?
I know a lot of the fans of this blog are interested as well. What can we all do to help fight to make this a reality?

DC said...

Hey Michael, we regularly discuss our business and views with State lawmakers and ask them to make changes like full strength beer on tap, more liquor licenses, lower food ratios, and how about some bar licenses and so on and so on. We remain vocal, respectful and send a clear message that we seek reasonable and responsible change to Utah’s outdated liquor laws as often as possible. Peter and I sat on Peter Cooke’s panel during last session; he knows it is time for significant law and administrative change partly because many business leaders let him hear our difficulties and concerns. I believe that the report that was given to the media from this panel resulted in the state putting off the new wacky law that allows the sale and transfer of liquor licenses amongst private parties, which could price these artificially limited licenses into the stratosphere and prevent local businesses from obtaining them. It is the perfect time of year for all of us to call or write local and State candidates and ask them where they stand liquor issues and let them know your own opinion. FYI, we are arranging some meet and greets with some candidates at the brewery the week of the 29th with details soon on our facebook page. Come out and be heard.

KAGent777 said...

Dave,

You are absolutely correct in saying Utah makes some of the best 4.0 ABV beer around, I personally prefer Bohemian. Some of the Squatters/ Wasatch lineup misses the mark while some is outstanding. Utah makes great beer all around, no need to fear competition, let's increase or eliminate the ABV tap limit (I promise I will not share my World Wide Stout with your children :)

Thanks for the information regarding meeting up with candidates at the brewery. That could be very interesting to hear their responses to pressing questions about liquor in Utah. I will see what the candidates say by also contacting locals in my precinct races.

I would love to celebrate soon by ordering a snifter of BBB from a local restaurant! It will take a lot of work to get that far.

Cheers All,
Scott

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