Thursday, October 23, 2008

Brewing Up More Tourist Attractions

The Post-Dispatch recently featured an article on O’Fallon Brewery and how it’s outgrowing its “little brewery in an industrial park in O'Fallon, Mo.” O’Fallon is looking for ways to fund an expansion that would increase its production from about 4,000 barrels this year to 15,000 to 20,000 barrels within five years.

Said O’Fallon co-founder Fran Caradonna, “We really could make this place a bigger brewery. We started thinking about what do we want to be?”

The company’s plans for expansion could involve incremental expansion or even the construction of a new brewery. If O’Fallon opts for the latter, downtown would be an ideal location.

With Tom Schlafly’s St. Louis Brewery on Locust, Morgan Street Brewery on Laclede’s Landing, and of course, Anheuser-Busch in Soulard, just south of downtown, relocating O’Fallon Brewery somewhere from downtown to Soulard would help reinforce St. Louis’ standing as a brewing capitol.

A location in an industrial park in St. Charles County is too isolated; a downtown location would raise the brewery’s profile substantially and provide exciting opportunities for tours and tasting events – perhaps even a bar or hospitality house – along with the natural synergies that come with being located in close proximity to other breweries.

With continued growth, O’Fallon could evolve into the St. Louis equivalent of Kansas City’s Boulevard. Boulevard’s brewery is located in an urban area near Union Station in Kansas City proper, and has become a popular destination for tourists and local beer lovers alike. It’s hard to picture it anywhere but in the city of Kansas City. Were it located in Olathe or Overland Park, it just wouldn’t be the same.

O’Fallon could become a similar attraction for St. Louis with a downtown brewery. Tourists and conventioneers who mostly stay downtown – not in places like O’Fallon – would provide a totally new market for O’Fallon’s beers.

Choosing downtown would be a win-win for both O’Fallon and the city. Come on, Caradonnas – make it happen!

Edit: According to STLHops, Boulevard produced 132,000 barrels last year and has the capacity to produce up to 700,000 barrels per year – obviously much bigger than what O’Fallon has its sights on right now. At a goal production of 15,000 to 20,000 barrels per year, O’Fallon would still be producing less than Schlafly does (about 24,000 barrels annually). Still, Boulevard – and Schlafly, for that matter – makes for a good role model for O’Fallon in a variety of respects, particularly their urban location.


Anonymous said...

Interesting article. I spent Friday and Saturday night in Ofallon MO this weekend. I was amazed that of the 5 places I went to only one of them carried Ofallon Beers. McGurk's on Main St.

I mentioned to every bartender, that I tried to order a 5 day IPA from that it surprised me that they would not carry local beers.

In contrast, just about every bar I go to in the city carries Ofallon beer. I think the city would be very welcoming to a great brewery like Ofallon.

shannon said...

I'd love to see O'Fallon open in the old Lemp brewery, and finally give that gorgeous property the boost it needs to get redeveloped. If the city was smart, they'd be building an incentive package to lure O'Fallon in, and working with Cherokee businesses to launch an overall neighborhood development effort.

Indianapolis has a really cool program for marketing cultural districts like Cherokee. It's a shame St. Louis doesn't have something similar.

Brian said...

I totally agree, Shannon. Actually, there's another good spot close to the Lemp that I will highlight in a future post!