(Photo: Ryan McVay, Photodisc)
By Anne Allred
MAPLEWOOD, Mo. (KSDK) - St. Louis has one of the largest craft brewery scenes in the country. There are more than 20 in the metro, and a new one, called Heavy Riff, opened up just this week in Dogtown.
But the brewery that started it all, Schlafly, is now busting at the seams and looking for a new location.
The walkways at Schlafly Bottleworks brewery in Maplewood keep getting narrower and narrower. Bottles and kegs are stacked to the ceiling, and tours inside the facility were stopped.
"It's just tight in there. You can see there's just not a lot of room to move," said founder Dan Kopman.
But the cramped quarters spell success. Te largest locally-owned brewery in the metro is brewing 55,000-60,000 barrels this year, but could potentially brew up to 80,000 barrels if they get new digs. But the search for the right 40 acre site won't be easy.
"We have to be patient because we have one shot at this," said Kopman.
Kopman says he's looking at several undisclosed sites in north St. Louis County or north city as part of developer Paul McKee's NorthSide Regeneration Project.
"They started in the city and we hope to keep them in the city and will continue to work with them as plans progress," said a spokesperson for McKee.
"That's an area we'll definitely continue to look at, and we'll continue to work with Paul," said Kopman.
Reporter: "That's the front runner?"
"What we've said is, we don't want to leave any stone unturned," said Kopman.
It's a must for the company that they own the land, something they estimate would cost anywhere between $15 and $30 million total, but they also plan to be patient, planning a two-year time frame to find a new site and three years to develop it, putting Schlafly's third location on the calendar in 2018.
The Maplewood and downtown locations will stay right where they are, but another reason this expansion could be great for St. Louis is right now Schlafly brews roughly 12 percent of its beer out of state, and this expansion would bring that production back to St. Louis.