HenHouse Brewing spending $4.5 million to expand production across Bay Area

The Santa Rosa-based brewery expects to quadruple craft beer output over next two years.|

HenHouse Brewing Co. announced a $4.5 million expansion on Monday that will allow the upstart craft brewery to more than quadruple its production over the next two years to reach more of its fans in the Bay Area.

The Santa Rosa-based brewery plans to use the money to grow beyond the six counties it now serves - Sonoma, Napa, Marin, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Francisco - to San Jose to the south and north into Sacramento. The company intends to hire more than 40 people, boosting its total employment to around 90.

The brewery - which has generated a loyal following since its founding in 2011 because of the owners’ near-fanaticism for ensuring their hoppy beers are served fresh and do not sit on refrigerated shelves more than 28 days - said the production will increase from a little less than 10,000 barrels annually to between 40,000 and 45,000.

“We are staying focused on the freshness,” HenHouse co-owner Collin McDonnell said. “We have the most aggressive shelf life of any brewery out there.”

The funding, provided by Live Oak Bank of Wilmington, North Carolina, will help expand its Bellevue Avenue, Santa Rosa brewhouse and increase the capacity of its canning line there, including installation of an automated keg line. And lager-style beers will be added to the lineup.

At its Petaluma location that just opened this year, HenHouse will expand its sour and barrel-aged beer program. The brewery will be installing six large oak tanks, a blending tank from Criveller Group in Healdsburg and a bottling line.

HenHouse is unique among most within the craft beer industry for its self-distribution to better control quality, instead of relying on wholesalers. For instance, its hoppy beers always are refrigerated. “We see that as a big part of who we are and what we do in terms of quality,” McDonnell said.

Some of the expansion money will go to buy more refrigerated trucks from the Donahue Truck Center in Cotati. Thus, HenHouse will need more drivers to haul the beer on the longer routes.

HenHouse isn’t the only local brewery growing, despite an overall slowdown in the beer sector nationally that’s causing significant layoffs at Lagunitas Brewing Co. in Petaluma.

The Shady Oak Barrel House has opened its taproom just south of the Santa Rosa Plaza, focusing on barrel-aged beers. The taproom will be open for customers from Thursday to Sunday. Owner Steve Doty said Shady Oak has four beers on tap with an eventual goal of 12. No food is served on premises, but Doty intends to have food trucks outside.

In addition, Cooperage Brewing Co. of Santa Rosa has recently finished installing a new brewhouse. Prior to installation, owner Tyler Smith had to brew his beers off-site. The 30-barrel brewhouse, also made by Criveller, will increase production from 800 barrels a year to almost 3,000.

The installation has allowed Cooperage to fill to-go beers in crowlers and growlers, as well as take on additional retail accounts. Smith said the brewery will eventually start using a mobile canning company on-site to fill 16-ounce four-packs of beer for retail sales.

Bill Swindell

Business, Beer and Wine, The Press Democrat  

In the North Coast, we are surrounded by hundreds of wineries along with some of the best breweries, cidermakers and distillers. These industries produce an abundance of drinks as well as good stories – and those are what I’m interested in writing. I also keep my eye on our growing cannabis industry and other agricultural crops, which have provided the backbone for our food-and-wine culture for generations.

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