Fresh off taking three medals at the New York State Craft Beer Competition in March, Lunkenheimer Craft Brewing Co. has announced that it is expanding.
The Weedsport brewery will move from its 1,200-square-foot space at 8920 N. Seneca St., which owners and brewers Derric and Kristen Slocum opened in September 2014. The brewery's new space will be closer to 3,000, Derric said Monday. Located about 50 yards away at 8931 N. Seneca St., the 1,550-square-foot former bank building there will be turned into a tasting room with a brick pizza oven. And an additional 1,700 square feet of space will be built for brewing, refrigeration and other uses, Derric said. He hopes to open the new space in June.
Lunkenheimer will keep using its 5-barrel system at the new space, Derric said. But with more capacity, including 10- and 15-barrel fermenters, the brewery will be able to make more beer. He hopes to double production this year. Some of that additional beer will go to Onondaga County, where Lunkenheimer recently arranged distribution through Party Source Beverage Center in Syracuse.
Assisting the Slocums with the expansion has been Dave Lunkenheimer, Kristen's father. The new space could also see the brewery expand its hours, Derric said. Another possibility is a canning line. Lunkenheimer will work with a mobile canning company for the first time this month, Derric said. When the funding's there, however, he would like the brewery to have its own line, he continued.
Derric said he and Kristen have been scouting new locations for Lunkenheimer for about three years. But keeping their brewery in Weedsport was important to them.
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"Weedsport's been very good to us," he said. "So we wanted to give back. The community has given so much to us. We wanted to make sure we grow there and help grow the community."
In an email, Kristen added, "When you support local, your spend stays local and allows small family businesses to expand and develop the community one lives in."
Meanwhile, Lunkenheimer will also expand outside Cayuga County when it opens a 1,000-square-foot tasting room on the south end of Sodus Bay. Staff is being lined up, Derric said, and the tasting room should be open by Memorial Day. No beer will be produced there, but Lunkenheimer will have its beer available both on draft and in cans. The Slocums also plan to feature beers from other New York state farm breweries there, Derric added. Lunkenheimer is able to open the tasting room and serve other state breweries there through its own farm brewery license.
Lunkenheimer's expansion takes place as the Weedsport brewery enjoys the momentum of its showing in the New York State Craft Beer Competition. The Slocums took gold in Strong Ale (Non-Belgian) for its Barleywine 2018, third in Fruit and Spice Beer (Non-sour) for its Toasted Coconut Porter and gold in the New York State Beer category. The third category, which fielded 353 entries, judged breweries that use at least 20 percent New York state hops, malt and other ingredients. Those medals joined several others in Lunkenheimer's trophy case.
Lunkenheimer was also one of only three New York state breweries — along with Auburn's Prison City Pub & Brewery and Brooklyn's Threes Brewing — to win three or more of the 74 medals awarded to more than 100 breweries at the recent competition. So Lunkenheimer is expanding at a time when the spotlight on it is perhaps brighter than ever.
"This has been in the works for awhile," Derric said, "but it happens that the timing's perfect."