At 6 p.m. on Thursday, there is hardly an empty seat near the bar in the taproom at Columbia’s Logboat Brewing Co. Still, people keep coming, and soon the indoor taproom and several picnic benches just outside are filled.
Inside the brewery, thousands of gallons of beer are produced where dozens were made when the company first got into business five years ago. But now, for the sake of experimentation with smaller batches of beer, Logboat is opening a second Columbia brewery dedicated to the creation of new products.
“The idea behind it is, ‘Let’s have a space where we can experiment,’” said Logboat CEO Tyson Hunt, sitting in an upstairs room overlooking the brewery. “And we can do trial and error, we can do R&D, we can figure out new products in the beer line that we can’t really pilot here … because of the size of our brew house.
“It’s hard to experiment on a 1,000-gallon batch of beer. So we needed a space where we could make smaller volume, bring it to the people that then give us feedback, and see if it’s something that we want to continue making.”
The new facility will also be used to add barrel-aged beer to Logboat’s offerings. There is no room for storing such beer in its current facility.
The project has been a couple of years in development, Hunt said, with a decision about location taking considerable time. Finally, they settled on an 8,000-square-foot facility north of Business Loop 70.
“We wanted to be close to the Business Loop,” Hunt said. “There’s a lot of excitement and investment and attention being brought to that part of town. We hope that us being over there would help spur more development, more growth, and just more attention to the Business Loop itself.”
Last week, Logboat began the process of seeking bids from contractors. Hunt hopes that the work on the facility will start in July, and the facility could start operating by the end of this year.
That could mean the company will add a couple of full-time positions to its existing team of 27 employees in the next few years.
With one project in the works, the company is focusing on the next.
“I think the next big thing that we want is to look into solar energy,” Hunt said. It’s an expensive upfront cost. … It has a price tag up front, but it pays for itself over time.”