Thursday, August 18, 2011

Upland Brewery expansion press release and informal letter

A link to Upland Brewery's expansion official press release can be found here

Below is a informal letter written by Doug Dayhoff, president of Upland Brewing.

To the Friends and Family of Upland:

Thirteen years ago the Upland Brewing Company launched in an old building which originally stored ice that would be distributed to local homes by horse and cart. In 1998 few people ventured beyond College Ave and Sixth Street, where downtown Bloomington effectively stopped, and Indiana’s entire beer production was measured in the hundreds of barrels. Much has changed since then: the buzz of new construction fills the neighborhood, and Upland alone brews over 10,000 barrels, including Upland Wheat and Dragonfly IPA, two of the best selling craft beers in the state of Indiana.

Through the great recession of the last five years, our sales have tripled. Gigantor, the 150-barrel (nearly 5,000 gallons) fermentation tank installed last fall, was the last tank we could squeeze into our building (and it doesn’t really fit, since it sticks four feet out of the roof). Just six months later we’re having difficulty keeping pace with demand yet again. We owe a tremendous thank you to those who have helped sell and drink all that beer we’ve brewed, and raise a big toast to our fellow brewers who have helped to change the beer culture of an entire state!

A few years ago we bought the adjacent property preparing to build a new brewery beside that historic ice house. But while finalizing plans to expand our current location, we came upon an opportunity to acquire a big but dilapidated building in a neighborhood that looks a lot like 11th Street did 13 years ago – and we couldn’t help but consult the old play book.

Now the plan is to move our production brewery equipment to that new location by next January and install a smaller pilot brewing system in our current location where our Brewpub restaurant will remain. The pilot brewing system will enable us to experiment with new recipes and develop small-batch, specialty beers for limited distribution. The new brewery location will have plenty of room for adding many more tanks, upgrading our bottling and kegging equipment, and storing the tons of hops, malt, and packaging materials that go into our unique beers. We are also very excited to dedicate a space the size of our existing brewery solely to the production of our barrel-aged sour beers, which are regarded as some of the finest American examples of these very old Belgian beer styles.

The new location at 301 West Grimes Avenue sits one mile south of our current location and is adjacent to the new B-Line Trail and a huge brown-field railroad switchyard that the City of Bloomington has targeted for restoration into a beautiful park sometime in the next decade. The building is a monument to 1960’s era industrialization, as it was built as a warehouse for RCA television sets, back in the day when our town was a national hub of domestic TV production.

This dinosaur building covers 47,000 square feet on 1.8 acres. It has no heating, cooling or insulation, and sports little in the way of internal improvements other than a couple toilets. The water utility servicing the building dates to 1929, and the poles running along its east side were installed for telegraph wires, not even telephones. Needless to say, we have our work cut out for us. Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan and the City administration (including economic development, planning, and parks departments) have been very supportive, and the McDoel Gardens neighborhood gave our plans a warm reception.

Of course this vision is subject to regulatory approvals and a herculean amount of work from our team, many of whom already work 55 hours every week. But this extra work will give Caleb and crew the opportunity to layout the new brewery in a way that optimizes quality and efficiency, and few of us in the craft beer industry ever have the opportunity to start from a blank slate twice.

We hope the community will rally around this redevelopment project and support our move. 11th Street will always be the hub of our retail business, and maybe we’ll use the extra space to start a little distilling operation or some other related venture one of these days.

One final request: while Upland and the other members of the craft beer fraternity have grown a tremendous amount in recent years, we are still a rounding error in the overall beer market of Indiana, where craft beer represents less than 2% of the total market. Growing breweries are very capital intensive, and none of us are yet making much of a financial profit (and nearly all of us re-deploy any profits back into more and better equipment). Please continue to support local breweries and encourage your friends to try our beers, too!


Doug Dayhoff



“Upland sales have tripled in the past five years, and this rate of growth has been possible because we have re-invested all profits back into the business, maintained modest salaries (thanks to a staff that is more passionate about quality beer than big paychecks), and squeezed capacity out of our original facilities and equipment in a ‘scrappy’ fashion. However, Indiana’s craft beer sales still lag neighboring Wisconsin and Michigan by many multiples, so it’s great to see new breweries opening and helping to encourage consumers to be thoughtful about drinking locally brewed beers and eating locally grown foods.”

“Upland was a pioneer business in the historic Showers Factory neighborhood 13 years ago, and we’re excited to be a pioneer again along the new B-Line corridor. Hopefully we’ll see a rapid change in the properties adjacent to the trail and an explosion in use of the trail for recreation and commuting – our brewery tours are filled with dozens of tourists every weekend, so we can help draw those people south of downtown too.”

“Compared to the large, multinational corporate beer companies, we think we have a very good track record of producing quality, hand-crafted, flavorful beers that are enjoyed responsibly, and of giving back to our communities, including over $40,000 annually in donations to Indiana’s land trust conservation movement, music and arts, and other non-profit organizations.”


“We have experienced steady growth over the past five years, and the writing was on the wall when the last tank we installed stuck out of the roof by four feet. The decision to move the main brewery to a larger site will enable Upland to grow three fold over the next decade in a comfortable manner, with room to add more equipment, stock and organize more inventory, and install fancy lockers for employees’ brewing boots.”

“The renovations and installation of a smaller pilot brewing system at our original location will give the brewing staff the ability to try out new recipes in small batches for our test market, which has always been right on the other side of the Upland bar. That direct feedback influenced what we brew today, and will continue to help figure out what new beers are developed for our fellow Hoosiers in the future.”


“Big Red was Upland's first wholesale customer, and our sales of their beers have grown every year since. This growth has come about due to the dedication of their staff to making high quality craft beers that lead the way in Indiana. We are excited that they are making a further significant investment in their Bloomington facilities which will benefit the community for many years to come”


“This business decision to expand brewery operations in this location is the first tangible sign that the City’s efforts to transform the former rail switchyard into our community’s central park will not only produce an unparalleled recreational amenity for our citizens but will also absolutely spur new economic development activity in the area. It’s never easy for the trailblazer, but their success will be the community’s success and so I am thrilled to be working with this homegrown local business to see how the City can help in its growth.”


“Upland’s brewery expansion in the former RCA Thomson warehouse will continue the tradition of industrial activity at the site, but will also add a new and exciting cultural dimension, one that builds upon the bustle of the B-Line Trail. Without a doubt it will be a catalyst project, a headstart on realizing a new community vision in the area. “



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