The town’s only brewery has started to expand on South Bedford Street, increasing its beer production from about 3,000 barrels a year to close to 10,000.
16 Mile Brewing Company, which opened in the summer of 2009 and features four year-round, English-style ales, will use its increased production to strengthen its Delaware customer base.
After hiring Sales and Marketing Director Claus Hagelman away from Dogfish Head earlier this summer and switching from 22-ounce aluminum bottles to the standard 12-ounce glass size, 16 Mile has gone on the offense in establishing its brand in the local markets.
“A lot of good things are happening here at the brewery,” said co-owner Chad Campbell. “We’re really excited to supply more. It’s all about the next level. We’re turning the page on things.”
In addition to 16 Mile’s “core four” ales — Amber Sun, Blues’ Golden, Old Court and Inlet India Pale Ale — Campbell said the popular fall seasonal, Harvest Ale, will become a year-round mainstay and some new seasonal beers, and perhaps a stout, will hit the market next year.
Despite the exploding craft beer industry, 16 Mile is purely focused on becoming established as a Delaware beer. A big step in establishing the brand was introducing the 12-ounce bottle. Though it means losing some individuality, Campbell said, it’s worth it.
“The 12-ounce package is an enabler, in a word,” he said. “The marketplace, statistically, is a six-pack world, whether it’s in a pub or in a package store. The 22-ounce aluminum bottle was unique, it set us apart, it helped us make our brand. The six-pack format will just catapult our efforts, and it will definitely take us to the next level.”
A large part of the next level will be a larger retail base. After all, it’s difficult to sell beer when liquor stores and restaurants aren’t buying it. That’s where Hagelman comes in.
“You need the two worlds to marry each other,” he said. “If someone goes to a bar and finds a beer they love, they want to go to the liquor store and buy it. If they don’t see it at the store, it takes the wind out of their sails.”
Some stores, like Banks Wines & Spirits in Millville, have been carrying 16 Mile for years and are looking forward to carrying more, especially seasonal beers, which are always popular.
“I’m glad to see a small business like them be able to expand in Delaware,” said co-owner Ted Banks. “I’m glad to see them going in the right direction. If they get into their seasonals, they’ll get more customers. It’ll be very good for our customers and for us.”
The expansion will happen in phases, Campbell said, with the tap room and cooler space done by the end of the year and the expanded brewing space to be phased in through April in time for the busy season.