STURGIS | Bryan Carter can’t keep up with demand for his selection of Knuckle Brewing Co. craft beers.
And expanding his present brewery located inside the Knuckle Saloon at the corner of Harley Davidson Way (Second Street) and Lazelle Street in Sturgis isn’t a feasible option either.
”We just can’t make enough beer,” Carter said.
So, he recently closed on the purchase of 1.6 acres in southeast Sturgis, a former campground along Anna Street within sight of traffic passing by on Interstate 90.
His plans are to break ground this fall on a new 15,000 square foot brewery, taproom and gift shop, and hopes to be brewing more beer by early next year.
He is also looking at restaurant options for the new facility along with the potential for another business to join in under the same roof as well.
The Knuckle Brewing Company opened in 2014. Carter said a 2016 addition to the Lazelle Street location doubled the brewery’s fermentation capacity but even that expansion didn’t last long, he said.
Within a year he was running out of beers before the end of the summer season, which includes the big month of August and the motorcycle rally.
His current two-vessel system is capable of brewing 10 barrels of beer at a time. The system planned for the new location is a four-vessel system with a 30-barrel brewing capacity.
“Using a two-vessel system, multiple stages of the brewing process have to take place in one vessel, therefore it’s slow,” Carter said.
“This new system will be a four-vessel system, so we’ll be able to brew 30 barrels in less time that we can brew 10 barrels right now,” he said.
The Knuckle’s planned expansion takes advantage of a new state law passed earlier this year expanding the legal capacity of craft breweries from 5,000 barrels to 30,000 barrels.
Carter is thinking his new brewery will take him to the range of 15,000 barrels of beer brewed annually.
“We’re building it so we can expand it if we need to,” he said.
The new law also allows craft breweries to bypass use of a distributor and directly market up to 1,500 barrels of their products to other bars.
With the property purchase in hand, Carter needs to put his building plans aside and concentrate on the upcoming 78th Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, from Aug. 3 to Aug. 12.
Brewery employees are already stocking existing coolers, including a refrigerated trailer parked behind the building, with as much beer as they can.
“We need the rally to be really big this year,” Carter said. “That’s what makes this all happen.”