NEW ULM - Schell's Brewery's major expansion plan will pick back up on Monday after being redesigned when some elements of the plan proved too expensive.
The original plan called for an expansion project of up to $6 million in two construction phases, with the first $2 million portion set to begin in May. The first phase calls for building a connecting building in the alleyway between Schell's two main buildings to create new space. This portion of the project will involve installing a new yeast propagation system, several hot and cold water tanks and six new "bright beer" tanks, which hold the finished beer before bottling.
The big change to the first phase, which delayed the start of the project, was the cancellation of a plan to build new space into the hillside next to the brewery's main building. The brewery was built over 150 years ago into the side of the hill, so space in the facility area has been limited for expansion.
Illustration/photos courtesy of August Schell Brewery
Schell’s Brewery is planning to expand its space by building a new building in the alleyway space between its two main building, linking the facilities. The work is part of $2 million expansion project that will begin tomorrow on Monday.
Schell's owner Ted Marti said this portion of the project was scrapped after it was determined that carving out space into the hill would be much more expensive than anticipated.
The redrawn version of this phase will begin on Monday. The hillside removal is the only part to be changed, and miscellaneous other work will be completed to keep the project cost around $2 million.
The project will also involve a second phase in September with the total cost unknown at this point. The maximum that will be spent on the phase will be $4 million.
The phase will involve a new canning machine be built in the new alleyway building from the first phase of the project. In the brew house, an energy recovery system will be installed to capture the steam generated by the brewing process and convert it back into energy to help save on costs.
The big change to this phase is the delay of installation of four 720-barrel fermentation tanks, which are similar to the one added last year. The changes in the plan removed the new space for the tanks that would have been built into the hillside.
However, Marti said this does not mean the tanks will not be installed. He said that they will instead be pushed back to 2014 to allow time to figure out how to fit them into the existing facility.
The original goal for the project was to expand the brewery's capacity by 100,000 barrels . This would push Schell's from its roughly 131,000 barrels per year production in 2012 to its end goal of 230,000 barrels per year. The goal of this expansion
With the changes to the project, Schell's expansion in its barrel capacity will depend on how well the project progress this year and how cost are managed. Marti said that despite the delays, they will still be striving towards their capacity expansion goals to meet heavily increasing demand for beer from microbreweries.
"The market has absolutely exploded in recent years," said Marti in a previous interview.
Schell's Brewery is also seeking to hire four new sales department employees to improve its competitiveness in the growing craft brewing market.