How Crooked Can’s Business Model is Expanding

Developing its plan from a napkin business plan drawn up on a plane, Crooked Can Brewing is growing in a new way.

After a trip back to the Orlando​, Florida​ area from Colorado in 2014 and inspired by what Oskar Blues had built, Crooked Can Brewing was developed. The brewery is franchising a second location in the Columbus, Ohio area in 2020. Along with being a brewery, the facility hosts multiple vendors for food and goods.

​”We started looking for properties then we found this one​,” said co-founder Andrew Sheeter, pointing at the long former apartment complex​. ​”At the time we thought, you know, this property is way too long for just a brewery. ​We like it, but what are we going to do here? And so we came up with the idea to make it a combined artisan market (called Plant St. Market) along with a brewery.

​”People who come into the restaurants are going to drive people to the brewery and the people come in for the brewery are going to be driven over the restaurants. And it’s created this synergy.​”​

The business model has worked. When the brewery opened in early 2015, business would die down after 7 p.m. because the food vendors had not opened yet. Sheeter said once the vendors started to open up, the brewery’s sales went up ​30 percent ​after 7 p.m. as well.

“My one partner Robert is a chef and has been in the food industry,” Sheeter explained. “He said we do not want to do a restaurant. It’s not an easy thing to do. And so it worked out well by leasing these spaces out because we own the whole building.​”

​Now, Sheeter and a group of friends from Ohio are franchising the brand to a suburb of Columbus in Hilliard​, Ohio with Sheeter having part ownership of the new facility as well.

Sheeter and his new group are taking many of the positive aspects of the facility and learning from some of the snags they had to open in Florida.

“​What we did ​[in Florida] is we have smaller spaces and larger spaces and we have about 20 here​,” Sheeter said​. ​”​There​, we have ​10-12, but all of them are larger. And that’s going to help a lot because it gives you more flexibility in your space.

​”​We’re also doing a flex space that can be used for events. We have a high demand for events [here]. We have a space now but we didn’t when we first started.​”

That space can be a Farmer’s ​Market​ in the warmer months and a Christmas Village in the winter.

​”​We’ve found that that the food vendors have done well​,” Sheeter said​. ​”​We had more non-food vendors here initially and some of them have closed, but we only have a few non-food vendors here now and they really they enjoy being here.

​”​But the food venues have all been home runs.​”​

The 15-barrel brewhouse is manned by Head Brewer Todd Glass who has been with the company since the start and has seen growth year after year to 6,600 barrels at the end of 2018.

​Glass’ team ​works with a 15​-​barrel​ brewhouse and started with six 30​-​bbl fermentors​ and one 30​-​bbl brite tank. ​The second expansion was two more 30​-​bbl fermentors​ and another 30​-​bbl brite ​with the last expansion ​saw the addition of six 45​-​bbl fermentors and two 45​-​bbls brite​s​.

​”We’re out of space at this point​,” he said​. ​The brewery used to have a canning line ​on-site, ​but after outgrowing it, they have partnered with Brew Hub for canning and some draft.

The portfolio has altered as well, but it’s changed over the nearly five years because the education of the central Florida consumer is growing.

​”​A lot of our one-off beers became what are now year-round beers​,” Glass said​. ​”​It’s one of the things you never really know what’s gonna take off and what ​is​ your market.

​”​Every couple of months were making a new style we haven’t done before to see if people are receptive to it.”

​Canning has been big from the start, but Sheeter admits distribution is a tough game.​

​”Managing supply and demand, trying to forecast that and just the fact that there’s a lot of competition out there,” Sheeter said. “I think we’re in 132 Publix locations, we’re at Disney and SeaWorld.

“Actually we just got an order from the convention center for 800 cases of High Stepper (the brewery’s IPA),” he said. “That’s the challenge. That order came in at the last minute. We had no notice and we got lucky because we happen to have a new batch coming out.”

Photo courtesy Crooked Can Facebook page

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