Ska Plans Major Expansion

Colorado brewery to build new 20,000 bbl plant

Colorado brewery Ska Brewing Co. plans to build a $4 million brewery in its hometown of Durango.

“We’re maxed out in our space right now,” co-owner David Thibodeau said. “We’ve crammed tanks into every nook and cranny.”

The new building should enable Ska to eventually expand its brewing capacity to 20,000 barrels annually from its current 7,000 barrels a year production.

“We can’t go into any new markets because we can’t brew any more beer,” said Thibodeau, who added Ska consistently turns away prospective distributors for lack of product.

Thus, Ska’s owners, Thibodeau, Bill Graham and Matt Vincent, are sinking their equity and bank loans into a $4 million gamble that Ska will continue to grow at double-digit rates for the foreseeable future.

“I’m nervous,” Thibodeau said. “It’s much scarier than simply starting the brewery was 12 years ago. It’s so much money.

“I think we’re all young enough; we just decided, let’s just go for it.”

Ska will focus on selling more beer locally because it brings a higher margin and keeps money in the community, Thibodeau said.

“We’ll make a lot more money selling beer in our tasting room than selling beer in Boston,” he said.

Thibodeau promises the building will be a good place to hang out. Think four stories on one side, two stories on another. Think beer garden. Think bigger tasting room with a dozen beers on tap, an increase from the current four. Think outdoor bocce games and Ska-B-Q.

The building will be substantial. Thibodeau said early plans project it will top out at nearly 50-foot high and include a beer garden, tasting room, outdoor bocce games and BBQ area.

The building will be constructed according to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards, but the owners will not immediately pursue costly LEED certification, Thibodeau said.

LEED is a leading certification of environmentally friendly commercial building design.