Variety Over Volume Can Net Gains

During its growing phase, Triple C Brewing decided that double-digit growth​ wasn’t what it was cracked up to be.

“Double digit growth every year can be hard as a brewer to keep up with,” said co-owner Scott Kimball. “Single digit [growth] just makes it easier to keep on top of everything.”

But the Charlotte brewery has found that variety vs. volume is what has kept it steady at around 6,000 barrels of production per year.

“Before, we would focus focus on our core beers just to keep up and we would have seven or eight beers on tap,” Kimball said. “Now we have 16 taps going.”

​The brewery, which opened in 2012, is still churning out product on its original 15-barrel brewhouse, but the addition of a 7-barrel facility across the street in its event space has helped keep the brewery stocked with many kinds of beer.

“Being able to crank out bigger batches of the beers we can is great. But we love having the variety,” said co-owner Chris Harker. “Beer drinkers today are looking for more variety than when we even opened. So you have to cater or get lost.”

Although not one of the oldest breweries in the Charlotte area, Triple C is a veteran compared to many in the region and Harker said the brewery’s open to the sharing of its story and ideas to other newer breweries.

“I’m always like: ‘I’ll tell you how we did it, I don’t know if it was the best way to do it or not,'” he said with a laugh. “We’re pretty measured and haven’t been with our foot on the pedal as much as some people. We just don’t have quite the appetite for debt.

“We’ll see what happens in a few years when there is 60 breweries in town.”

For now that means growing when needed. The biggest expansion came all at once with the purchase of bottling and canning lines along with 60-barrel fermenters.

“We were blessed with this big building day from Day 1, this neighborhood didn’t used to look like this,” Harker said. “The rent was pretty low and we had a 20,000 square foot building from Day 1. We’re only using about a quarter of it, so we’ve been able to expand in the same place which has been nice.”

​Harker said margins are way better handing people beers ​in a ​glass than selling a keg, but ​”​we still love our wholesale position and want to be out there ​as a leader in the local market.​ … The vast ​majority of our beers is one of our sales guys in a Triple C van out there.​”​

Kimball​ said Triple C is ​finding ways to grow but without the old model of expanding your footprint concept and picking up distributors.

​”​We’re just making sure all of our beer is staying​ local and fresh,” he said. ​”​And keeping that quality.​”​

​Harker said they borrowed some money to open and everything else is has been earned by selling beer.

“So we grew and added tanks and added a silo, whirlpool and canning line and bottling line,” he said. “We borrowed money to make the taproom because we had the good credit at that point to do so.

“It’s been an adventure, a lot of fun doing it and we’re blessed to have a lot of the same employees for seven odd years now.”

​As the neighborhood of Southside Park has grown for Triple C, they are still primarily a “locals” brewery. They may not be flashy or following trends and promoting themselves as such, but that sort of outlook comes from experience. Online reviews have to be taken with a “grain of salt” Harker believes when looking at a brewery as a whole.

​”But if you are an all-IPA factory your probably going to be a little higher ​on Untapped than someone that’s got a lot of variety like we do​,” he said​. “But it’s a good measuring stick for sure.”​

Kimball​ added that consumers want not just new brands but they are seeking the new brewery as well.

​”​So I think the complex thing is you can ride that wave as long as you make good beer your first year,​” he said,​ “​but how do you stay relevant in Year Two and Year Three?​”​

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