Last updated on July 3rd, 2019 at 07:22 pm
Just three and a half years after first launching its production, Milwaukee-based Enlightened Brewing Co. LLC is already preparing for a second expansion by year’s end.
The craft beer producer, currently a tenant of the Lincoln Warehouse in Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, plans to open a larger production facility and taproom nearby in the former Louis Allis manufacturing plant at 427 E. Stewart St.
The new 14,000-square-foot space is a step up from the brewery’s current 1,800-square-foot, ground-floor production area and taproom at 2018 S. 1st St. When Enlightened first moved into the Lincoln Warehouse in 2015, it occupied a second-floor 500-square-foot space, and could only brew a half-barrel, or 15 gallons, at a time.
The brewery in summer 2016 expanded, opening its taproom and larger production space, which increased annual production to 250 barrels. Within a year, its current three-and-a-half barrel brewing system proved insufficient for growing demand, so co-owners Tommy Vandervor and James Larson set their sights on a larger location.
“We need to grow,” said Vandervort. “We want to do more wholesale, produce a wider variety of beer, and expand our footprint with tastings and festivals.”
And Vandervort, who founded Enlightened Brewing in 2013 after discovering his passion for home brewing, is hopeful that the expansion will allow the brewery to do just that.
With a 9,000-square-foot production space and a new 10-barrel brewhouse, made by Marshfield-based Quality Tank Solutions, the brewery can produce up to 3,600 barrels annually. About 1,200 barrels are expected for the first year, Vandervort said. It will also add four more brews to its current eight-beer repertoire — four year-round and four seasonal.
“We will have room to add several more tanks to take our capacity up even higher,” he said. “That’s the best thing about the new spot is that we’ll have some space to grow into.”
The hunt for real estate, that was both affordable and spacious, wasn’t easy Vandervort said. He had hoped to expand the brewery without leaving the Lincoln Warehouse, but it didn’t have the necessary space. The building houses a variety of small businesses, including Twisted Path Distillery, Mor Cafe & Bakery, Bittercube, and La Pavia Beverage Co.
Ultimately, Vandervort didn’t want to relocate outside of Bay View, so he is pleased with the under half-mile distance between the two locations.
The brewery’s current taproom will remain operational, and possibly take on a new concept, after the new 9,000-square-foot taproom opens next year. As for the current production facility, that will still be utilized for small-batch experimentation and developing new beer, Vandervort said.
Enlightened’s taproom is currently open on Sunday from 1 to 6 p.m., Wednesday from 4 to 10 p.m., Thursday from 4 to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 3 p.m. to 12 a.m.