Memphians' growing appetite for local craft beer is causing the kind of problem most businesses love to have — too much demand and not enough product.
Wiseacre Brewing Company has finished up an expansion of its Broad Avenue brewery to increase beer production in an attempt to solve that problem.
The additional production capacity — two grain silos that can hold 60,000 pounds each and 320 barrels of fermentation space — will allow for a third year-round canned beer to be released in a couple of months.
Wiseacre hired four more employees to work on the brewery side, and the adjoining taproom has added 16 new employees. They also recently completed an outdoor patio. The expansion project began in December.
Wiseacre brewmaster Davin Bartosch said two new brewers hired by the company "jumped at the opportunity" to join Wiseacre.
"That our peers respect and admire Wiseacre enough to move across the country to be here, on top of the fact that we can create jobs in Memphis, makes us feel great," he said. "We didn't want to just get a brewery open. We wanted to establish something great for Memphis that would grow with the community and, after months and months of hard work and 20-hour days, it's starting to feel that way."
Kellan Bartosch, one of the co-owners and part of the brewing brother team at Wiseacre, said they had to turn down orders from some restaurants and bars that wanted to offer Wiseacre's beers on tap because they couldn't produce enough beer to fill those orders.
"When you tell people we haven't been able to [meet demand], people tell you, 'Oh, that's a good problem to have,'" he said. "It certainly is instead of the alternative, but you still have a situation where you have to tell people no, and they don't understand."
The Bartosch brothers made the decision to expand last winter after realizing the popularity of their current year-round offerings, Ananda I.P.A. and Tiny Bomb, an American pilsner. Those are offered on tap and in cans in bars and grocery stores. They also produce a number of seasonal specialty brews that are available in the Wiseacre taproom.
"With the way things are going, you want to grow and hire people," Kellan said. "It became pretty evident that it would be a smart thing to take a step forward and make those moves."
Kellan said the way people are changing how they consume contributes to the growing beer culture in Memphis.
"People are more concerned about where their food comes from. Beer is part of the same thing," he said. "The breweries that are here, you know the stories behind them and you can see it being made. That part matters a lot to people. I think it's just an era of quality in general, choosing whether to eat at a chain restaurant or support someone who's striving in very authentic ways."
Kellan assured that the expansion doesn't mean the company is going anywhere else to sell their homegrown brew.
"We're still thinking about Memphis and making sure everybody's needs here are satisfied," he said.