Zero to 12,000 in 3 Years
When’s Leon coming out?
When’s your next barrel aged beer going to be released?
Why can’t I find County Line IPA in a store near me?
When are you going to release The Shape of Hops to Come again?
These are pretty common questions being asked around these parts lately, not to mention through social media and Email. Hopefully you’ve had a chance to stop by our lil’ corner of the Internet lately and you’ve seen some of the pictures of the construction, expansion, and arrival of new equipment. If not, here’s an update on why we haven’t made an announcement about a 2015 Leon release, when our next barrel release is going to happen, and why it’s so damn hard to find our beer at your favorite watering hole.
Ok, so let’s start at Leon. Leon, for those that don’t know, is our Russian Imperial Stout brewed with chocolate, marshmallow, and graham crackers. It’s one of most popular seasonal offerings. The past two years we’ve shipped Leon by the end of February for an early March availability. Obviously, that didn’t happen this year. Why? More on that below. When is it coming out? Very soon. In fact, we’re finally getting around to brewing Leon this week, but unfortunately, we’ve had to cut back on production of Leon for 2015, so there’s not going to be a lot. How much? Roughtly 60 BBLs worth. It won’t be a lot, so keep your eyes peeled for an announcement on it’s availability.
As for our next barrel aged beer release, that too will be our 2015 Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Aged version of Leon RIS. We’re eager to get this beer out of the barrels and into some bottles and kegs, and as soon as we get a free tank to do some transfers, this will happen. Tank space is at a premium right now, so we don’t have a set time or date on this at the moment, but it will be soon, and this will be extremely limited. More than likely the 2015 release of BBA Leon will be limited to 500 bottles or less, as well as a very small amount of draft that we’ll be making available at some events that we’ll be announcing soon, including our 3rd anniversary party in June and select Philly Beer Week events.
After that our next barrel aged beer will be our 2015 Philly Beer Scene Awards beer, Buffalo Trace Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Creekfestbier Lager. We took our traditional Märzenlager, Creekfestbier (aka Ziggy Zaggy Oktoberfest Lager), and built a meaner, bolder beer brewed with brown sugar and blueberry honey. Then we decided to let it slumber in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels for six months before we condition on blueberries for a month. The first chance to taste this beer will be at the 2015 Philly Beer Scene Awards show in May, and we’ll have a very limited amount of bottles available at the brewery as well.
To answer the questions on why you can’t find Neshaminy Creek beer in a store near you, that’s pretty simple: we just can’t make enough.
In 2014 Neshaminy Creek Brewing brewed 4552 barrels of beer. If you’ve been keeping track, that’s nearly double our 2013 total of 2585 barrels, and roughly four times more than the 1156 barrels we brewed in 2012. That’s a lot of growth, especially considering we didn’t offer our beers in an 12 ounce format until June of 2014. In a state like Pennsylvania where the case is ‘King’ (or at least, was until this month’s PLCB ruling on 12-pack sales in distributorships), that’s a fair amount of beer. Two-thirds of our 2014 total were done between June and December and due in large part to the arrival of our canning line, so you can see the effect that offering our 12 ounce can six-packs and cases have had on our production.
On the employee side of things, take this into consideration: Neshaminy Creek Brewing started 2014 with one full-time, paid employeed. We currently have a staff of 15 full and part-time employees, and will be adding five more necessary positions in the months to come.
March 2015 will see Neshaminy Creek brew just over 800 barrels of beer, just under 20% of our entire 2014 total in just one month. We’re now brewing two or more shifts a day, five days a week. Currently, 90% of our beer is packaged and shipped within four days. FOUR DAYS. Most of the time we’re scheduling distribution pickups based on when beer is being packaged, in particular, County Line IPA, J.A.W.N. Pale Ale, and Churchville Lager, our three most popular brands. So, while we don’t have date codes on our cans and bottles yet, our beer is as fresh as it can get if and when you see it in stores.
To help meet this demand we’ve just begun another brewery expansion project that we hope to have completed by Summer 2015. Three weeks ago we received a shipment of six additional 30 BBL fermenters which now puts us at 600 barrels of total fermentation capacity as far as stainless steel is concerned. In the next three months we’re expecting delivery of five 60 BBL fermenters and four additional lagering tanks (ranging between 30 and 60 barrels each) to help increase our production, and maybe, just maybe, expand our distribution past our current footprint of 29 counties in Pennsylvania, and all of New Jersey. Once online, we expect these additional tanks to push our yearly production to nearly 15,000 barrels and it’s altogether possible that we’ll reach 12,000 barrels produced this calendar year.
That’s a lot of beer, right? We’re gonna get too big, and commercialized, right? We’re gonna sell out to the man, right? WRONG. Wake up. That’s barely a drop in the bucket compared to many breweries we look up to here in our area; Yards, Troegs, Victory, and Dogfish Head are making upwards of 10 times (or more) than that amount, so we’ll still be a itty-bitty brewery. Sure, we’re certainly bigger than many of our newer brewing friends here in SEPA, but that doesn’t make us some faceless brewery churning out gallon after gallon of uninspired beer. On the contrary…
We’re really excited about the expansion of our Sour beer program here at Neshaminy Creek. With nearly 200 barrels now in house in addition to three beautiful 45 hectoliter Foudres, we plan on pushing our skills and tastes in several different directions in the months to come. We have five Sour beer releases happening in the next 12 months, with a lot more planned as well.
And you thought I forgot about The Shape of Hops to Come? First, we want to thank eveyrone on the feedback of the 2015 release of Blitzkrieg Hops. From what we’ve heard, you guys are liking it. We’re really happy that we got our numbers dialed in for this years batches and are glad peole are enjoying it so much. We’ll continue brewing Blitzkrieg Hops for another five weeks and then the first batches of 2015 The Shape of Hops to Come will hit the tanks in mid-May.
Why do we only release these beers for six-months at at time? Why not make The Shape of Hops to Come a year round beer if people like it so much? Again, simple answer: hop contracts.
Right now Neshaminy Creek is contrated out until 2017 for our hop needs. Take into consideration the amount of growth this brewery has gone through in less than three years and you can see it’s been nearly impossible to estimate (or predict) how much of any hop we’re going to need, let alone hops for a beer that far exceeded any expecation we could have ever had for it. Our hop contract went from being the cost of a really expensive BMW in 2013 to more than the mortgate on my house in 2016, so needless to say, when you’re making those types of calculations and committments, sometimes you have a tendency to be conservative. Thrown in the introduction of new hop breeds like Equinox and things get even more difficult. Luckily, for the hops we use in The Shape of Hops to Come we’ll be more than able to brew this beer without any raw material issues for the next few years, and we even contracted hops for some other hop forward beers that you’ll see in the coming months.
So, sit tight, we’re working on it. Hopefully you won’t have any trouble finding your favorite Neshaminy Creek brew at your local watering hole or craft beer one-stop soon. Rest assured, we’re working on it!
Taking all of this into consideration, we would be remiss not to acknowledge that the things we’ve been able to do as a brewery in the past 2+ years is all because of your support, not to mention the hardwork and dedication of our distributors in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. You were crazy enough to take a chance on a brewery that uses water from the Neshaminy Creek, and we can’t thank you enough. Without you, none of this would have happened. THANK YOU.
Like always, I’m sure that doesn’t even scratch the surface, so you’ll just have to stop by and see all the changes for yourself! Cheers!