Carrie Rengers

This Wichita brewery plans to make a lot more beer

As Aero Plains Brewing prepares to celebrate its second anniversary on Nov. 10, it’s also preparing to make a lot more beer.

“It’s a pretty big expansion we’re doing,” says partner Lance Minor.

The brewery purchased four new 60-barrel tanks.

“So that will double our production capacity,” Minor says.

“It’s going to allow us to produce the beer that customers have been wanting,” he says. “We haven’t been able to produce it fast enough to keep it on the shelves.”

Instead of producing 2,500 barrels a year, the new tanks will allow for at least 5,000 barrels, if not more.

“We built the brewery with this in mind,” Minor says of the 11,250 square feet the business is in at 117 N. Handley in Delano. “We’re actually about six months ahead in ordering all of this.”

Part of the demand has grown with a lot of changes the brewery has made this year, including hiring a new head brewer, Troy Bervig, who has made a lot of other changes.

“Troy has revamped almost all of the Aero Plains recipes,” Minor says.

“The craft beer scene has become very competitive, and we want to make sure we are putting out the best product possible and connecting with our customers in the best possible way,” Minor says. “I think we were trying to be too many things to too many people.”

Also, he says, “We have undergone some new branding.”

The business’ original logo tried to capitalize on Wichita’s aviation history and the Chisholm Trail and Delano.

“The model really just didn’t work,” Minor says.

Gardner Design created a new look.

Where Aero Plains is selling has changed as well.

Minor says he and his partners have collapsed their distribution footprint from around the state to around Wichita.

“We’re going to focus on growing the Wichita market first,” he says.

Aero Plains had been selling two kinds of beer in bottles for distribution to liquor stores.

Now it switched to six cans of different kinds of beer.

“Bottles are just more expensive to produce,” Minor says. “The craft beer industry is really shifting to more cans.”

Minor says it’s better for the product since there’s no light to affect the beer, and cans can be recycled more easily.

Aero Plains had been selling to about half the state before scaling back.

Some of the excess beer from here is being sold in Newton, Salina and Hutchinson, and Minor expects to expand to Topeka and Emporia before the end of year.

He says some particularly eager sales reps in Salina are wanting sales there now, too.

Then Minor says he expects to expand outward around the state again.

“Absolutely, we’re working towards that.”

Reach Carrie Rengers at 316-268-6340 or crengers@wichitaeagle.com.
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