DuClaw Brewing Co. is plotting a major Harford County expansion, part of a plan to push its line of beers into states up and down the East Coast.DuClaw founder/president David Benfield had briefed me on the general expansion strategy last week, over a 2005 DuClaw Repent at Max's Taphouse, but safe to say the cat's now out of the bag. The building in question is located just southeast of the junction of Rt. 40 and Post Road (Rt. 7A), on the other side of the industrial siding tracks from Stancil Field Park, in the "industrial" southwest corner of Havre de Grace.
The 15-year-old suds maker and restaurant chain has outgrown 10,000 square feet of brewery space in Abingdon and has a contract to acquire a vacant 165,000-square-foot building in Havre De Grace to help meet its expansion goals. DuClaw plans to occupy roughly half of the 26-acre property, at 1601 Clark Road, and lease the bulk of the excess space to contractors and vendors it does business with.
According to information provided by a DuClaw publicist, renovations to the new site will begin in April, with hopes to have the building ready for brewing by next fall, and immediately expand production from the current 8-9,000 barrels to around 25,000 barrels annually within a year. The building affords the space for a potential production of around 125,000 barrels, which if realized would place DuClaw in the same league as Flying Dog, Victory and Troegs. Also projected is an immediate expansion of distribution to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Virginia, and the District of Columbia; expanded bottle packaging and draft accounts at non-DuClaw bars has increased to reflect 35% of its sales in late 2012, up from a mere 1% from last year's 22-ounce-bottle sales.
Benfield is also planning an expansion of its beer-restaurant chain through a franchising arrangement similar to Dogfish Head's Alehouses and the pending Heavy Seas Ale House, beginning with an initial Maryland location, possibly in Baltimore City or Montgomery County, Md., with potential future locations in Delaware, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.
UPDATE: More from the Baltimore Sun's Explore Harford County page, including comments from Jim Richardson, Harford County's director of economic development, who notes that a deal for the property, which has been vacant for several years, has still not been signed.