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Craft Brewing and Distilling News for April 5, 2016

April 5, 2016

•New Belgium Brewing has begun production at its new 500,000-barrel, 127,000-square-foot brewery in Asheville, North Carolina. The craft brewer’s Asheville site will focus mainly on producing flagship label Fat Tire Amber Ale, with production of other brews ramping up according to demand. The output of the Asheville brewery, combined with that of New Belgium’s Fort Collins, Colorado home base, gives the company a total annual capacity of 1.5 million barrels.

•Narragansett Beer is planning to bring brewing operations back to its home state of Rhode Island for the first time since 1983. The craft player has been contract brewing its beer through Genesee Brewery in Rochester, New York and Buzzards Bay Brewing in Westport, Massachusetts. This week, Narragansett will be relocating its offices to Pawtucket, Rhode Island, with a brewhouse slated to open at the site later this year. According to a brewery spokesperson, Narragansett plans to continue contract brewing a portion of its brews—including its flagship lager and some seasonals—and will initially focus on producing limited edition and small-batch offerings at its Rhode Island facility.

•A combined tiki bar and rum distillery called Potomac Distilling Co. is planned within a new mixed-use development called The Wharf on Washington D.C.’s southwest side along the Potomac River. Backed by the Eat Good Food Group, which owns the local Restaurant Eve and a bar called PX, Potomac will be headed by the PX’s current mixologist, Todd Thrasher, who will be the distiller. His plan is to acquire a 200-gallon still and produce four different rums—white, traditional spiced, rum for aging and a non-traditional spiced. Among his spices, he expects to employ cardamom, lemongrass and mint. The facility will encompass three bars, including a grassy rooftop space with a fire pit and tiki torches, with seating overall for 100 people. Restaurant Eve’s chef, Cathal Armstrong, will create a 20-item small-plates bar menu designed to be paired with rum-based cocktails. There will also be a retail shop for sale of Potomac rums by the bottle. The new venue will open in 2017, with no precise launch date fixed as yet.

•Illinois-based Few Spirits is expanding distribution of its namesake 84-proof Breakfast Gin following a successful run in the Chicago area, where the gin launched last summer. Retailing at around $40 a bottle, Few Breakfast Gin—flavored with juniper, lemon peel and Earl Grey tea—is now available in seven states, Washington, D.C., and the U.K., with more markets slated to follow. It’s geared toward brunch cocktails such as the Ramos Gin Fizz and French 75.

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