Detroit's riverfront brewery, Atwater Brewing Company, which recently completed a $1 million upgrade to its current facility, is looking for an additional 70,000-sq-ft site in Detroit to expand its full scale brewery operations to produce approximately 100,000 barrels annually. The company also announced it plans to open "Atwater in the Park," a brew pub and pilot brewery in Grosse Pointe Park in the fall and said that it may convert the now closed Atwater restaurant into a tasting room.
Atwater owner, Mark Rieth, said that last year the brewery installed six 150-barrel tanks at its current facility, doubling annual production capacity to 30,000 barrels per year. Atwater produces more than a dozen different beers under a variety of labels including its most popular, Dirty Blonde. The brewery produces lager, stout, ale, pilsner, porter and specialty beer flavors that are sold throughout Michigan and in 12 other states. Atwater was named 2013 Best Brewery in Detroit.
"The craft beer movement has literally taken off in the U.S. in the past couple of years and our beers are competitive with everything on the market. Our equipment is world class and our processes are time tested by German brewers but aim to reflect the authentic heritage of Detroit brewers as well," said Rieth, who purchased the brewery in 2005. "By adding a second full-scale brewery, we're putting Detroit back on the national brewery map." In the 1850s Detroit had more production breweries than anywhere else in the country.
From its location in a 1919 warehouse in Detroit's riverfront district, Atwater has grown from humble beginnings in 2005 to become Detroit's largest craft brewer. Employment has doubled in just the past year to 18 and revenue has tripled from $1.2 million in 2011 to a projected $3.5 million this year. By the end of 2014, Reith is planning to add a micro-distillery to make vodka, gin, bourbon and whiskey.
"Over the past several years, we've been unable to keep pace with demand, so we think our growth plans are ambitious but still realistic," Rieth says. "We're involved in a number of exciting discussions and are eager to get our second full-scale brewery project underway."