Expansion was always part of the plan for Barley Mow, the little Largo brewpub Jay Dingman owns with his wife and fellow brewer, Colleen.
But not this soon and not this big.
The original plan was to add a 20-barrel brewhouse at the end of the third year of brewing. Instead, Barley Mow Brewing Company will be adding a 30-barrel brewhouse in a few months and increase production eight-fold.
“That’s definitely in response to what’s going on in the industry,’’ Dingman said. “It’s kind of a race to get into that next chapter for us. We’ve worked really, really hard for two years and built a brand and dialed in our recipes.”
New breweries have grabbed much of the recent attention and continue to sprout around Tampa Bay. At least four new breweries are planned in the next few months: St. Petersburg Brewing, Motorworks in Bradenton, Angry Chair in Seminole Heights and Coppertail in Ybor City. But existing breweries are expanding to keep up with demand, in widely varying degrees.
Big Storm Brewing in Odessa added capacity last year to allow it to grow tenfold. Rapp Brewing aims to grow from 300 barrels last year to 500 in 2014. Tampa Bay Brewing Company hopes to open a large production brewery and tasting room in Ozona, its first outside Ybor City. And Cigar City Brewing will add thousands of barrels of capacity at the Brew Hub in Lakeland and at its continuing partnership with a brewery in Puerto Rico.
The new Barley Mow production brewery will be in a 20,000-square-foot building nearby, with three 60-barrel and two 30-barrel fermenters. Dingman aims to produce 3,000 barrels in the first year of production, from 450 barrels produced in 2013. Even that is just “scratching the surface’’ of the new system’s capacity, he says, but Dingman doesn’t want to grow too big too fast.
“it’s a big jump so we want to get acclimated to using it...It’ll be a nice change of pace,’’ he said. “We’re really excited.”
The increased capacity (locally built — the brewhouse is by BrewFab, the St. Petersburg company behind Cycle Brewing Downtown’s brewhouse) will allow Barley Mow to grow distribution locally from a handful of craft beer bars like Willard’s, Ale and the Witch and the Cajun Cafe on the Bayou. The demand at the original location consumes about 90 percent of production, leaving little for distribution, he said.
Because of zoning restrictions, the production brewery won’t have a tasting room, though tours are a possibility, Dingman said.
He plans to focus on a few core brands — The Quackalope IPA, the Huntsman (a hoppy red ale) and Unkindness, an American black ale — in draft only initially and then cans.
And while Largo may not be the center of the craft beer universe, Dingman is happy there. Mayor Pat Gerard poured the first ceremonial pint and city officials are excited to have a growing craft brewery. “We have a great relationship with the city,’’ he said.