New Belgium New Expansion

New Belgium Brewing Co. its biggest capital expansion ever – a building and equipment addition tagged at $21.5 million.

Following a 12 percent growth rate last year, the Ft. Collins-based craft brewers will start work on a new bottling and packaging facility on June 1.

The company has seen double-digit growth the past several years, said Bryan Simpson, New Belgium spokesman.

“We just added a market in Chicago, and it’s gone better than expected,” said Simpson. “We’ve also recently entered the San Diego market.”

The company will spend $11.5 million on a 55,000-square-foot building, and the remaining $10 million on new equipment, said Jim Spencer, director of engineering for New Belgium.

“As we continue to grow, the only bottleneck we have for expansion is in our bottling capacity,” said Spencer.

An automated, high-speed bottling line will be installed in the new building. KHS, a brewery equipment manufacturer based in Germany with a presence in the United States, was hired for the equipment installation.

By May 2007, the microbrewery will put out 700 bottles a minute, compared to the current 300 bottles per minute, said Spencer.

The brewery is on track for an estimated 400,000 barrels produced this year, said Simpson. With the expansion, the microbrewery could eventually reach up to 800,000 barrels maximum per year.

Known for its environmentally advanced operations, New Belgium will employ eco-conscious construction techniques. Recycled steel components and recycled concrete will be used. A recycle program will funnel some construction waste away from the landfill.

Natural lighting will be built into the building. The heating-ventilation-cooling system will not use Freon, said Spencer. Instead a direct-indirect evaporative cooling tower will be installed.