Truckee’s FiftyFifty crafting new brewing facility, eyes mass production (VIDEO)
At a glance
• New location at 10434 River Park Place would employ 5-10 people, working across various shifts. Location would not be open to the public.
• FiftyFifty’s current capacity is 1,200 barrels of beer per year. Full build-out of new location would allow for roughly 30,000 barrels a year.
• Priorities for new location include increased focus on local draft accounts, additional 22-ounce bottle production and draft support of close metro areas.
Source: FiftyFifty Brewing Company. Visit fiftyfiftybrewing.com to learn more about the business.
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Back in 2005, Andy and Alicia Barr, living in Roseville and working as engineers for Hewlett-Packard at the time, decided they needed a change of scenery in more ways than one.
“We kind of woke up one day and said we want to do something that inspires us more,” said Andy Barr.
While brainstorming ideas for what direction to pivot, the Barrs eventually landed on a new place to live (Truckee) and a new industry to tap into (craft brewing).
“We had done home-brewing and we knew we loved Truckee, because we had been coming up here for years for skiing and enjoying the awesome summers,” Barr said. “We wanted to do something that had direct engagement with an end user, instead of working for a company.”
Thirsty to live in a mountain town and open a brewery, the Barrs quit their company jobs, uprooted from Roseville and planted roughly 80 miles northeast in Truckee that same year, 2005.
After roughly a year and a half of planning, in May of 2007, their change of scenery came into full view when they opened the doors to their very own brewery within The Rock commercial center — FiftyFifty Brewing Company.
STAYING IN TRUCKEE
Eleven years after moving to Truckee, with a thriving brewpub and numerous beer awards and accolades to their name, FiftyFifty is on the cusp of opening the doors to a second facility, a project that was OK’d by the Truckee Planning Commission last month.
“I’m thrilled that we were able to find a space and get in a production facility in Truckee — that’s always been important to us,” said Andy Barr, who, along with wife Alicia, the former Truckee mayor and current town council member, has been planning to expand for more than five years.
After all, FiftyFifty currently distributes in 17 states and eight countries. Specifically, the brewery allocates its Eclipse Barrel Aged Imperial Stout, which last year was awarded the European Beer Star Awards Gold Medal and named one of Esquire Magazine’s “Top Ten Beers You’ll Never Taste.”
“We have been trying to expand for awhile, but one of our criteria for expansion has always been to stay in Truckee,” Andy Barr said. “So we’re delighted to be able to do this now in Truckee. And we really think we’ll be up and running this year.”
‘WE HAD OUTGROWN THE SPACE’
A year ago, the Barrs’ expansion plans were to build an 18,500-square-foot brewery at the end of West River Street, where they had purchased a piece of property.
However, last fall, they retracted the application. Simply put, FiftyFifty faces time constraints as it attempts to meet growing business demands, and building a brewery would take too much time — “we have to say no to a lot of requests at this point from a distribution standpoint,” Barr said.
Instead, the Barrs submitted a plan to remodel an existing 12,000-square-foot building at 10434 River Park Place and turn it into a 1,000-gallon brewery. Remodeling to the building will include implementing flood drains and isolating air spaces, Barr said.
Unlike the current FiftyFifty brewpub at 11197 Brockway Road, which Barr said will continue operation, the new facility would strictly be a brewery — a site for brewing, barrel aging, storage, and shipping and receiving. Meaning, there would be no restaurant or food sales, tasting room, or any other retail sales.
Currently, FiftyFifty has a mere 800 square feet of brewing space and uses multiple offsite locations — roughly 8,000-square-feet worth — for storing everything from barrels to forklifts.
In other words, “we had outgrown the space,” Barr said.
‘OUR GOAL IS TO MAKE BEER’
That will no longer be an issue in FiftyFifty’s new facility, where everything entailed in the brewery’s production and distribution will live under one roof.
What’s more, the gallon system will be more than three times the amount of the current FiftyFifty operation. In all, the new brewery will have a capacity of 30,000 barrels of beer per year at full build-out.
While producing beer in higher volumes is meant for distribution locally, nationally and internationally, Barr said FiftyFifty is first and foremost focused on putting their bottles and cans in the hands of locals.
“The part we’re most excited about is being able to support Truckee-Tahoe accounts,” he said. “Because we haven’t been able to produce enough volume in the past to be able to support it outside of the restaurant very well. And our goal is to make beer, not just run a restaurant.”
Shooting to open the doors of their new facility by the end of the year, Barr said they’re currently in the process of ordering equipment, securing ingredients and hiring employees.
“Essentially, the vast bulk of the work is putting our equipment inside,” said Barr, adding that he expects the equipment setup to take place as early as August.
“We’re close,” he added. “We should have product that has been produced at the new facility ready for sale this year.”