Bear Republic Brewing plans Cloverdale expansion

  • Bear Republic brewer Kevin Dougherty adds hops to a batch of Racer 5 IPA at their production facility in Cloverdale on Thursday, February 13, 2014.

    (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Bear Republic Brewing wants to give beer lovers a reason to go to Cloverdale.

The company recently bought 1.5 acres next to its Cloverdale production facility to create a "destination brewery," where people can see how beer is made, sample it and get a bite to eat.

"We're trying to create a spot where people say 'what do you want to do this weekend? Let's go up and take a tour of that brewery,'" said Richard Norgrove Sr., the chief executive, president and owner of Bear Republic Brewing.

The steadily growing company, buoyed by the rise of the craft beer industry and the popularity of its flagship "Racer 5" IPA, hopes to perhaps quadruple its current output at the Cloverdale location with an expanded brewery.

With 72,000 barrels produced last year, or more than 2.2 million gallons, Bear Republic has gone from its founding in 1995 in Healdsburg to become the 34th largest craft brewery in the country, and 45th if you include mass market behemoths such as Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors.

Of the 21 breweries in Sonoma County, only Lagunitas is larger. It produced about 500,000 barrels last year.

Norgrove said "we'd like to get to 250,000 to 300,000 barrels."

The new Cloverdale facility is expected to take three to five years to become reality.

Norgrove said it's too soon to say exactly what will be built on the vacant parcel the company bought in December for $950,000, or whether there would be a pub.

"If you're drinking beer it's important to have availability of food at the same time, so you're not just getting people inebriated," he said. "Whether it's a deli or brew pub, who knows?"

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