The Alchemist, Makers of Heady Topper – Why Don’t They Just Make MOAR BEER?
The Alchemist Pub & Brewery, makers of one of the most sought after Double IPA in the country, responds to the question of “What don’t you just make more beer.” Russian River gets asked this, Hill Farmstead gets asked this, as do other makers of highly sought after, stratospheric leves of hyped beer, etc. Here is the well thought out response from the Alchemist’s blog. Cheers!
By far, the most common question we receive is ‘why don’t you make more beer?’
We continuously run out of Heady Topper each week and our consumers and our retailers continue to request more beer.
Since opening our production brewery 2 short years ago, we have increased production 600 percent. We are currently making 180 barrels of Heady Topper each week. Although we are a small, independently owned brewery, this is a LOT of beer. If you told us 2 years ago that we would be able to sell this much beer in our small, local distribution territory, we would have called you crazy. The ever increasing demand for Heady Topper is quite unbelievable.
So- why don’t we just add a few more tanks and make more? Well- it isn’t that simple. Of course we realize we need to bump up production in the future to meet local demand. However, there are some very critical issues and initiatives that we need to tackle before this can happen.
- INFRASTRUCTURE! We have a building permit and a plan in place to build a new structure on our property. We have received permission from the state wetlands specialist to fill in the back of our property for this building that will give us extra storage, refrigeration and public bathrooms. We will also have a larger parking lot that will be paved with marked parking spots for improved traffic flow. At this point, we are going through the appropriate steps to get final Act 250 approval for this plan.
- HOPS! Heady Topper is delicious because it is packed full of premium Pacific Northwest hops. Anyone who is familiar with commercial brewing understands how difficult it can be to acquire some of these flavorful and aromatic hops varieties. All of the hops in Heady Topper are difficult to acquire in large quantities. John spends a lot of time contracting hops so that we can ensure we always have enough to brew Heady Topper. We are fortunate enough to have solid contracts though 2014. We have invested a large amount of money on deposits and pre-purchases to guarantee we will be able to continue brewing without any break. We are already working on our contracts for 2015.
- MINIMIZE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT! We have grown as much as possible in a short amount of time. Before we add any more production, it is imperative that we focus on initiatives to lower our environmental impact. Making beer is not a low impact industry. We use a lot of water and we create a large amount of wastewater. Although we compost all biosolids, we still have some work to do to lower our overall BOD’s. We are investigating many options that will help bring our wastewater levels down to the levels of a household.
We understand that the demand for Heady Topper far exceeds our current supply. We appreciate everyone’s enthusiasm and understand that our consumers want us to produce more. We will make moresomeday. However, we will not simply start pumping out more at the expense of quality. We will not skimp on hops. We will not break environmental regulations imposed by the state. We certainly will not dirty our streams, rivers and lakes. We simply can’t get ahead of ourselves.
Thank you to everyone who has offered up financial assistance or expressed interest in financial investment. However, please understand that finances are not what is holding us back. Also, please remember, Heady Topper is delicious because it is made in small batches with the utmost care. It would not be the same if we were pumping out 50,000 barrels a year. Although we are unable to guarantee you can always find it, we can guarantee that when you do find it, it will be fresh and delicious. This is the best we can do for the time being.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and better understand our current production levels. I’m ready…