Make us your home page

Lakeland's Brew Hub to bring a crafty approach to big brewing

Brew Hub Florida opens in Lakeland in May. Its business: “partner brewing.”

Artist rendering via Facebook

Brew Hub Florida opens in Lakeland in May. Its business: “partner brewing.”

Before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, Dixie Brewing Company was a city landmark, producing roughly 1 million cases per year from the only large-volume brewing facility operating within the city. The brewery was destroyed in the hurricane, but Dixie Beer is still on the shelves of beer stores nationwide.

This is because Dixie utilizes a practice known as contract brewing. In this case, the original recipe is now brewed at the Joseph Huber Brewing Company in Monroe, Wis.

While Dixie was forced into contract brewing, some craft brewers opt to brew some or all of their beers at external facilities for a variety of reasons — increased output potential, expanded distribution, even environmental logistics. Mattson Davis, president of Hawaii's Kona Brewing, cites the state's decades-long drought as the impetus for having much of his beer brewed at a contract facility in the Lower 48.

However useful this arrangement may be to small or remote breweries, the practice is often demonized within the craft-beer scene. Some enthusiasts feel that the practice is misleading to consumers at best, and in some cases damaging to the quality of the brands themselves.

Tim Schoen is the CEO of Brew Hub, a chain of production facilities that's launching in Lakeland in May. He aims to change the way people look at contract brewing by providing a service far removed from traditional contract brewing. According to Schoen. Brew Hub is not about contract brewing — instead, it's partner brewing.

"We're turning that perception 180 degrees," Schoen said. "We're going to promote it and embrace it. We view ourselves as real stakeholders with our partners."

Brew Hub's Lakeland facility — the first of six regional facilities planned across the country that will host between five and eight partner breweries each — will emphasize a customized approach to partner brewing. This will include custom-built facilities designed to replicate the processes at the partner brewery's current facility, as well as the hands-on cooperation between the partner brewery's brewmaster and Brew Hub's brewmaster, Paul Farnsworth.

To Schoen, the Brew Hub concept is not simply a convenience to partner breweries, but a necessary step for craft beer's continued growth.

"The industry is projecting that (craft beer) is going to be anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of the total volume of the beer industry by the year 2020," he said. "The current infrastructure cannot handle 10 to 15 percent volume throughout the country."

Brew Hub will announce six breweries that have signed on to brew in Lakeland by the end of the year, with the tasting room opening shortly thereafter. The facility will start brewing in March, with an official grand opening on May 1.

Aside from production and packaging, Brew Hub also will offer services ranging from brand consultation to distribution overseas, allowing brewers to ship beer as far as China and Australia. While traditional contract brewers don't get involved in marketing their clients' beers, that will be a crucial component of Brew Hub, where the tasting room will feature merchandise — and, of course, beers — from the partner breweries on site.

Will Brew Hub change the way enthusiasts look at contract brewing? Perhaps more important, does it matter? If the growth that the craft-beer industry has experienced over the past few years continues, Schoen's warning of a currently unsustainable infrastructure will seem more urgent. It's possible that the Brew Hub concept may be just the thing to keep craft beer thriving well past 15 percent of the domestic beer market.

[email protected]

Lakeland's Brew Hub to bring a crafty approach to big brewing 09/11/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, September 11, 2013 11:08pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  2. A scene from "Epiphany."
  3. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22


    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21


    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media
  5. McDonald's soft serve in Florida is made with handshakes and happy cows


    Floridians licked nine million McDonald's vanilla cones last year.

    Calves play with a rubber toy at the Milking R Dairy in Okeechobee, FL. Owners Sutton Rucks, Jr., and his wife Kris Rucks sell their milk to SouthEast Dairies cooperative, Edward Coryn of Dairy Mix in St. Petersburg buys it, transforms it into soft-serve ice cream base, and sells it to all the McDonald's. SCOTT KEELER   |   Times