After two very successful years in business, River Rat Brewery has a “huge expansion” planned for the first quarter of 2016, according to owner Mike Tourville.
Tourville plans to add a 3,000-square-foot facility at the business’s 1231 Shop Road location.
“Our manufacturing facility behind our taproom is getting close to being over capacity and we’ve got no room to expand, so we need to put up another building to store our grain, our merchandise and house our bottling line,” Tourville said.
The facility will also house offices and River Rat’s new canning line, which will enable the brewery to sell some of its most popular brews in cans.
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“That’s going to excite people,” Tourville said.
The new facility will allow River Rat to increase its capacity to 7,600 barrels annually, Tourville said. In its first year, the brewery made 1,300 barrels; this year it expects to top 2,600.
“Our current capacity is only 3,300, so if we grow at the pace we’re growing, we won’t have enough equipment to keep up with the demand in our current space,” Tourville said, adding that he has already ordered two 60-barrel fermenters and a 60-barrel bright tank, which adds carbonation to beer. He expects to brew more than 4,000 barrels in 2016.
An additional component of the expansion will be a food truck, Tourville said.
“We’re getting a food truck instead of building a kitchen,” he said. “We hired a new chef, Devin Maes, a couple of months ago and in January we’re going to increase our menu and start serving brunch.”
All of the additions will total close to $500,000, Tourville said.
“This is our big step to get us to the next level so we’ll see where it takes us,” Tourville said. “A lot’s happened in a short amount of time.”
This will be the second expansion for River Rat, which was founded by Tourville in 2013. Tourville named the brewery River Rat for the Congaree, Broad and Saluda rivers and the working-class group of men who labored on them more than a century ago.