Summit Brewing's $13 million expansion in St. Paul gets busy

  • Article by: DEE DEPASS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 2:29 PM

The St. Paul brewery’s twelve new fermentation tanks will double its capacity, adding jobs and ending the shortages that hit last summer.

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Summit Brewing’s $13 million expansion continued Wednesday as giant fermentation tanks were lowered by crane into Summit’s new cellar in St. Paul.

Photo: David Joles, Star Tribune

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Patient customers awaiting more suds from Summit Brewing Co. are about to get their wish.

On Wednesday, two massive cranes hoisted four giant fermentation tanks into the sky, down through a roof hatch and into Summit’s new $13 million “cellar” in St. Paul. The team of men from Ambassador Crane & Rigging and PCL Construction will install eight more of the gleaming 600-barrel tanks in the next eight weeks.

The new cellar, which has put about 80 Minnesotans from seven firms to work, will double Summit’s production capabilities to 240,000 barrels of beer at any given time. It typically takes two to six weeks to brew a batch of ale or lager.

Each of the new stainless steel tanks stands 43 feet high, 12 feet wide and “holds 18,000 gallons of beer. That’s a lot of servings,” Summit founder and President Mark Stutrud said with a chuckle as he and 17 others braved the rain and cold to watch the tank installation Wednesday morning. “Our customers are driving us to do this, ” Stutrud said. “Last summer we really hit capacity.”

But soon, Summit, which sells beer to 17 states, will suffer no more shortages.

“They are expanding and that is good for the city. We are thrilled,” said Andrew Ahrendt, senior project manager with PCL Construction Services, the general contractor.

PCL was slated to start construction on Summit’s new 7,600-square-foot cellar in July 2013. But growing demand accelerated the project. PCL broke ground on the foundation in October and completed the building’s three-story shell in February. Now, construction is nearly complete.

Tanks go online in early June

The four newest tanks should be piped, outfitted with automated valves and operational in about 35 days, Stutrud said. The others should be online this summer. Each of the 12 tanks will hold 600 barrels of beer. Summit already has 24 smaller tanks that sit in a connected building, but they hold just 300 barrels of beer.

The entire project is a decidedly Minnesota affair. The fermentation cellar was built by PCL in Burnsville. Armstrong Crane and Rigging from St. Paul did the fancy crane work. Van Sickle, Allen & Associates in Plymouth did the engineering work.

Being local and employing Minnesotans is important, Stutrud said, noting that St. Cloud-based DCI makes all his tanks, while Pent­air in Golden Valley manufactured his automated process. Anderson Dahlen made the stainless steel piping that will run the beer from the tanks into bottles. “This will be one of the most automated breweries in the country,” Stutrud said.

But even with automation comes jobs.

Stutrud, who already has 60 full-time and 12 part-time workers, just hired another brewer and will add five new marketing, sales and administrative workers this summer. He’ll add another five workers next year, “which is not too shabby for a little business like this,” he said.

Lorrie Louder, business director for the St. Paul Port Authority, said “This means so much to St. Paul and the whole region. It is literally a goose-bump time for us.”

The Port Authority sold the brewery land to Stutrud in 1996 and made sure he had room to expand. “The site used to be owned by Texaco. … It was a classic brownfield site,” she said.

“But today, it’s a thriving business center.”

 

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725

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