On Feb. 11, 2014, Baranof Island Brewing Company was granted a $350,000 development loan by the Mayor and City Assembly of Sitka. The loan was granted from The Southeast Alaska Economic Development Revolving Loan, also known as the Stevens Fund.
This loan will allow the microbrewery to purchase a new grain mill and establish a beer-canning line.
Baranof Island Brewing Company was founded in 2009 by Rick and Suzan Armstrong, in a garage 2 miles outside of downtown Sitka. According to Mr. Armstrong, “Right now, our 310-gallon system is simply not large enough to meet the growing demand for craft beer from Sitka.” Mr. Armstrong notes that demand for Baranof Island Brewing Company beer has been growing, and last summer, the company was only able to fill half the Alaska orders for its various styles. “With growing Alaska demand and with our expansion into Washington State, Mr. Armstrong said, “this loan is crucial to help us scale up our production facilities.”
The Armstrong’s predict that new grain mill will increase current efficiency and will allow for 1,356 extra gallons of beer to be produced per month. New fermenting tanks will also be on the shopping list. These new tanks will allow the fermenting and conditioning process to occur in the same tank, reducing labor and cleaning costs.
The most important investment will be a canning line. Canning is gaining favor in the craft beer industry as an economical method to distribute beer while preserving flavor. Glass bottles are expensive to ship to Sitka empty and even more costly to ship out full. Aluminum cans will drastically lower shipping costs and will increase the shelf life of Baranof Island Brewery beers.
Baranof Island Brewing Company’s beers are available for sale throughout Alaska and in northern Washington State. The company currently produces six main unfiltered and unpasteurized American-style ales, with an additional rotating list of seasonal ales.