Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is ready to stretch its legs with an additional 20,000 square feet of space. The Downtown brewery has officially taken over the former Four String Brewing production facility at 660 N. Hague Ave.
Outgrowing its 215 N. Fourth St. complex, which includes the brewery, restaurant, taproom and event space the Hickory Room, the brewery had been looking for additional space for production and storage. When Four String’s space became available after its sudden closure in October 2018, WRB Co-Founder Bob Szuter says the facility not only made sense because it was built out, but included a canning line.
When WRB started distributing its beers in late 2015, the brewery steered towards bottles based on market demand and the flexibility the vessel afforded. Plus, largely confined to the basement of their Downtown location, they didn’t have room for a canning line.
Bob says they watched the market change rapidly over the next five years, going the direction of cans.
WRB will break into the can market with a selection of six brews – a mix of core beers and new, rotating selections. Up first are Daybreak, Night Method, Hop Pink, Heartlandia, Hefeweizen and Pack IPA. Daybreak, Pack IPA and Heartlandia, which will replace Clearsky and fill the light lager void, will be available year-round. Head Brewer Chris Davison, says from there, they’ll have a rotating IPA series that will change quarterly (currently Hop Pink), a new seasonal that will debut about every two months (currently Night Method), and six-month rotating runs of Hefeweizen and Hefe & Wedge, an orange Hefeweizen.
As they get a feel for their expanded capacity, “We’re going to sprinkle in other releases through year as we can,” Davison says.
That will likely include some 16-oz can cream ale infusions, like a Cherry Cordial Clearsky, Creamsicle, and the popular Cinnamon Toast Brunch.
Glass bottles aren’t going away completely, though.
“The bottle releases will still be predominantly glass,” Davison says. “I think bottles are more conducive to long-term aging which a lot of people tend to do with our stouts.”
That also means Dire Wolf, their Russian Imperial Stout, will still be available in glass-bottle four-packs.
The bottling system will remain Downtown for now, where WRB can bottle off the remaining tanks. Davison says over the last year, they did fewer speciality beers because core production had ramped up enough to demand most of the tank space. With roughly six times the brewing power, “The sheer capacity here allows us to not be constrained by batch sizes anymore,” Davison says.
The smaller tanks Downtown can go back to more speciality brews.
“It’s going to be kind of the playground,” Co-Founder Alan Szuter says. “We can do small batches and just have fun.”
WRB cans are available now and have already started rolling out to store shelves.
For more information, visit wolfsridgebrewing.com.
All photos by Susan Post