Alltech could double beer production with planned expansion

jpatton1@herald-leader.com,By Janet PattonMay 20, 2013 

Bottles are cleaned, filled and capped on the bottling line at Alltech's Lexington Brewing and Distillery Co. Photo by Mark Cornelison | Staff

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Alltech founder Pearse Lyons said Monday that the Nicholasville-based nutrition company was pressing forward with plans to expand its brewery in Lexington.

"We just ordered the equipment," he said.

The expanded brewery probably will be on Angliana Avenue, where Alltech stores its bourbon barrels.

The new 300,000-square-foot Town Branch brewery could be up and running by the end of 2014 if everything goes as planned, Lyons said.

"In 15 months from now, we'll either have it in Angliana Avenue or another location," he said. The brewing and bottling equipment will come from Germany in about nine months, he said.

And Alltech needs it, he said, because it needs the beer production.

The company's Alltech Bourbon Barrel Ale has become the biggest-selling craft beer in Ohio, according to its distributor, Lyons said.

His existing brewery can produce as much as 30,000 barrels a year, but with the expansion, capacity could nearly double, Lyons said.

He predicted that within five or six years, Alltech could become the fifth-largest craft brewer in the United States.

Lyons dropped the nugget of news into his speech to more than 2,400 people from dozens of countries who are attending the annual Alltech Symposium in Lexington.

The symposium discusses everything from marketing to animal nutrition, with an eye to the global business climate.

Alltech also will host a brewing and distilling symposium in Ireland in July.

The interest in brewing, Lyons said, comes from his roots: According to family lore, one of his ancestors was an original member of the guild of coop ers, or barrel makers, founded in 1594 in Ireland.

Lyons founded Alltech on his interest in yeast, and it has been the building block of his expansion into everything from Alzheimer's research to beer, and now bourbon with Town Branch Distillery.

"If you really want to get me excited, ask me about yeast," Lyons said at a news conference.

"Or whisky. Or beer," chimed in Mark Lyons, his son.

"It's all yeast," Pearse Lyons said with a shrug. "It has amazed me, the growth in the craft brewing industry in the United States. The beer industry in the U.S. is flat; the beer industry in the world is flat. But craft brewing is growing."

He said he recently attended a craft brewing convention in Washington with thousands of enthusiasts.

"What you sense was a cult, but a sustainable cult," Lyons said.

"Brewers are fun people to be around. ... That's our background. We're in the brewing business."

Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.Janet Patton: (859) 231-3264. Twitter: @janetpattonhl.

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