Wolf’s Ridge Brewing is taking over the former Four String Brewing production site — a move that will allow the Columbus brewery to transition from bottles to cans, increase capacity and deepen its distribution in Central Ohio.
“We’re excited about it,” co-owner Alan Szuter said.
Wolf’s Ridge — known for beers such as Clear Sky and Daybreak, along with special bottle releases — has applied through the Ohio Division of Liquor Control for a brewing permit at 660 N. Hague Ave., which housed Four String until it closed suddenly last fall. The 30-barrel brewing system, 120-barrel fermenters and canning line are still at the site and brewer Chris Davison described the location as “largely move-in ready.”Get the news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and evening newsletters
It’s unclear, though, when Wolf’s Ridge will start brewing at the site, with that depending on the state and federal regulatory approval.
Szuter and Davison said Wolf’s Ridge had been looking for a site for a production brewery for awhile. The current brewery, along with the tasting room and restaurant at 215 N. Fourth St. downtown, is operating at capacity.
“Outside distribution has been growing very steadily for the last couple of years and we have been dealing consistently with capacity constraints,” Szuter said. “It’s been a real challenge for us.”
Wolf’s Ridge produced about 2,900 barrels last year and expects to hit about 3,600 this year. The new production brewery has capacity for about 20,000 barrels, giving Wolf’s Ridge plenty of room to grow, Davison said.
The brewery plans to use the new brewery to beef up its self-distribution in the Columbus market.
“We’re not trying to take over the world,” Davison said. “We don’t even have any plans to be statewide in the next couple of years. If it happens, it happens. We plan to grow deeper in Columbus and probably expand south. ... We’re just taking it slow and trying to do it right.”
Four String operated a tasting room at the site, but Wolf’s Ridge has no immediate plans to open a taproom there, as the location doesn’t fit the style of Wolf’s Ridge, Davison said. Instead, it will shift some 45-barrel fermenters from its downtown location to the North Hague site to free up more space in its existing taproom.
Wolf’s Ridge is especially excited about transitioning to cans.
“Cans are a huge part of the market,” Szuter said, noting that some accounts don’t even want to sell bottles. “We have been looking for some way to get into cans.”
He said Wolf’s Ridge fans shouldn’t expect major changes ahead with the new brewery — outside of the cans, of course.
“It’s not going to lead to a significant change in what we do,” Szuter said. “We’ll continue to innovate with new beers and offer a lot of small batch releases and unique beers in bottles. That’s going to continue.”