BERLIN — Heavy demand at Berlin’s Burley Oak Brewery has owner Bryan Brushmiller increasing his capacity and eyeing operations that could begin carrying his product in the near future.
“This is definitely the natural next step,” Brushmiller said last week when he added two more fermentation tanks to his operation.
Of the tanks, he said, “This gives us four more batches every two weeks.”
Since opening in August, Brushmiller said he has been stressed trying to match customer demand. Beer was going so quickly that he had to stall the sale of growlers, the 1,900 ml bottles that patrons can use to bring beer home, to ensure that the brewery’s bar didn’t run short.
However, as of earlier this month Burley is once again offering growlers on all of the beer varieties available. As of last Thursday, seven different brews were available.
With the two additional tanks, Burley Oak now has about 91 barrels’ worth of storage capacity.
With his ability to produce now stabilized, Brushmiller explained that he’s begun looking for local bars and restaurants that want to carry his beers.
“The goal is distribution,” he said.
No locations have been decided upon yet, said Brushmiller, but there is a long list of places making offers.
Initially, Brushmiller plans on finding a few bars in Worcester County and a few in Wicomico and wants to concentrate on locations specializing in microbrew beer.
“We’re definitely going to places that are craft-centric,” he said.
While Brushmiller is calling the capacity increase and move to distribution a “natural next step,” he admitted that Burley Oak’s timeline is advancing faster than he ever thought it would.
Brushmiller acknowledged expansion may mean more employees in the future for the brewery.
“I already had to hire a second bartender for Friday night,” said Brushmiller.
Mayor Gee Williams, a long-time advocate of establishing Burley Oak in Berlin, cited the brewery’s growth as proof that Berlin’s friendliness toward small business works well for all involved.
“Businesses that really see themselves as part of the community do better than the ones only thinking about themselves,” he said.
Though he noted the community has been supportive of Burley Oak, Williams explained that the success of the brewery is entirely because of Brushmiller and his staff.
“They’ve used the dollars they have extraordinarily well … He [Brushmiller] has some very talented people working for him,” said Williams.
With things moving quickly, Brushmiller said that he’s willing to apply the brakes if Burley begins to expand too quickly.
“We’re just trying to grow at an even pace,” he said.
According to Brushmiller, growing too big too fast could lead to sacrifices in product quality, a trade he promises he won’t make now or in the future.
“It’s all about the beer,” he said. “We just want to make sure the beer isn’t compromised.”