Lift Bridge Brewery, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary later this year, is looking to double in size with a new production facility and taproom as its business continues to boom.
The $10 million facility would have a taproom able to fit more than 100 people, a special-event space for weddings and parties that could seat up to 200 people, an expanded lab and production space.
"We're simply at overcapacity where we're at now," said co-founder Brad Glynn. "We've had great gains the last several years, and we want to keep that growth moving. The only way to do that is to get a new facility."
Glynn and the other owners are still finalizing the site for the new 30,000- to 35,000-square foot development, but want to stay in the same general area of the Stillwater industrial park where it is currently located so semitrailer trucks can easily get to and from the building.
The business is seeking the city's help, telling the Stillwater City Council earlier this week that they are hoping to get more than $1 million in tax-increment financing to help fund the project.
Glynn said he and his partners did explore other neighboring areas, including in Wisconsin where it could get cheaper land, but decided they wanted to stay in Stillwater where they live.
The brewery is named after the city's landmark vertical-lift bridge.
"We really love this community," he said. "We fell in love with the geography and the history. … Getting the city to help us with this development makes it easier for us to stay where our heart is."
Stillwater Mayor Ted Kozlowski said the city receives lots of requests for tax incentives, especially since the city has so many old buildings.
He added that Lift Bridge Brewery has been a valuable asset to the city.
"It's not necessarily about the employees or even the branding they bring to Stillwater, but they're pretty much the best community partner we have," he said. "They sponsor every festival and event. So it's really no surprise that we'd want to work with them and help them stay in Stillwater."
While the City Council didn't vote on a tax proposal for the project this week, it directed the city's staff to work with the brewery on helping to assess the various tax incentives that would be available at the different sites under consideration.
The co-owners of Lift Bridge Brewery hope to break ground this summer with the new facility and open it in the summer or fall of 2019.
Lift Bridge, which is among the top 10 largest breweries in Minnesota, has been in its current space since 2010. It expanded in 2014, but still only has 16,000 square feet that it owns or leases. Its current taproom accommodates fewer than 50 people.
Its sales have been booming, growing more than 20 percent last year as it expanded its distribution into more parts of Wisconsin, including Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. This year, it plans to expand to the rest of that state as well as to North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa.
Last year, it also started selling its root beer, which was previously only available by the glass from its taproom, at grocery stores around Minnesota and in nearby states.
Lift Bridge also is planning to launch a soda brand in the coming months, Glynn said.
Last year, Lift Bridge produced about 19,000 barrels of beer and expects to make 27,000 this year. Its goal is to get to 70,000 barrels in the next 10 years.
Reflecting on its first decade in business, Glynn noted that when the company first started in 2008, it was the only new brewery to open that year in Minnesota.
"Now that seems unimaginable because a new brewery is opening every few weeks it seems," he said.
Kavita Kumar • 612-673-4113