Hi-Wire Brewing: Aggressive Growth Possible When Done ‘Within Reason’

Using its mantra of: “overbuild within reason,” and using the extra capacity to expand into new markets, Hi-Wire Brewing is on the move to Ohio and with hopes of 60 percent growth during 2017.

Co-owner Chris Frosaker told Brewer that all the growth for the brewery since opening in 2013 has been aggressive. After maxing out its first facility, the Asheville, North Carolina brewery added a second brewery for 55,000 barrels of capacity.

“Everything we installed meets our needs now,” Frosaker said, “but [it] will also allow us to steadily grow production without significant capital expenditures or complete equipment replacement for a good amount of time.

Hi-Wire Brewing began launching distribution to the entire state of Ohio beginning this week with roll-out events scheduled through March 3 in Cleveland, Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton.

Ohio is one of three projected new markets Hi-Wire plans to launch in 2017.

“Ohio is a top-five craft beer state, and its beer drinkers have more commonly been making Asheville a must-visit location. We are honored to be able to “export Asheville” to these amazing beer markets,” Frosaker said in a release.

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When asked to explain how Ohio made it to the list of expansion territories for the brewery, Frosaker noted that many that visit the North Carolina town that is flooded with quality craft breweries that it leaves an impression on consumers.

“We find markets and towns where Asheville has a “buzz”, and go from there with market research,” he said.

Teaming with a craft and import distributor was important to the release as well, working with Premium Beverage Supply in Columbus, Ohio.

“We look a number of things, from how excited they are about our brand, to the other brands in their portfolio, and what the local beer scene is like,” Frosaker said. “Going forward, we are really looking for distributors that have both a strong market reach and strong knowledge and enthusiasm for craft beer.

Chris Lutkowski, the Director of Sales for Hi-Wire added that Ohio has a good number of retailers that prioritize craft beer sales and putting new brands in front of their customers.

“Regardless of whether or not it’s the bar down the street or the large box retailer that covers the country, the retailers take pride in understanding what the consumers want and what they are willing to try,” Lutkowski said.

Frosaker said that Hi-Wire is a strong believer in having experienced, local sales reps where it sells.

“In out of town markets, we typically look for someone that lives there and is familiar with their backyard and local beer scene,” he said, noting that in the brewery’s home market they just recently promoted a bartender from one of the taprooms to be an additional sales rep.

“In general, sales is where we are focusing the most amount of energy as a company right now,” he said. “We are proud of the beer we are making quality-wise, so the next step is to get it in people’s’ hands.”

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