Ninkasi Brewing continues to boom and grow

City: Eugene, OR

Eugene's Ninkasi Brewing's rapid growth is showing no signs of slowing down. In May, 2012, the company said it planned to embark on a $15 million expansion that will add 70,000 to 80,000 square feet of new production space, offices and a distribution center. The new production area will boost the brewery's capacity from 95,000 barrels to 200,000 barrels and is expected to be completed in 2013, company officials said.

In 2011, the company ranked as the 32nd largest craft brewery in the U.S. (it was No. 50 in 2010).

Ninkasi's astronomic growth has a lot to do with its successful partnership with Business Oregon. Since 2012, Business Oregon has worked on three financing deals with the company to help fund its expansions. As a result, since 2005, Ninkasi has grown from two employees to its current team of 57 employees. As of 2010, the brewery was the fastest growing regional brewery in the U.S., nearly tripling its production since 2009.

In 2011, the company completed a $4 million expansion of its West Eugene plant, which includes a new 60-barrel brewhouse (double the size of the one they installed in late 2008) and a new bottling line that can fill 12-ounce bottles (previously the company only sold 22-ounce bottles of its beer). The company has now pushed sales into Washington, Idaho, Alaska and northern California.

In November 2011, Business Oregon completed a new Oregon Business Development Fund (OBDF) loan of $400,000 to assist the company with the purchase of real estate and help fund improvements to the company's production of fine craft ales. The latest expansion project will create an estimated 19 new jobs over the next three years.

By 2011, Ninkasi had become the third-largest brewery in Oregon with sales of approximately 30,000 barrels of beer in 2010, an increase of 83% over the previous year. No regional brewery (a brewery producing at least 15,000 barrels annually but less than six million barrels) topped year-over-year growth of 75% in 2010, according to the Brewers Association, so Ninkasi appears to be the favorite to once again take the "title" of fastest-growing regional brewery in 2011.

Past assistance to the company included a $50,000 forgivable loan from the Governor's Strategic Reserve Fund helped the company put the final pieces of its financing plan in place in April 2010. In addition, in July 2010, Business Oregon funded a $502,000 OBDF loan for the company.

In 2009, Ninkasi graduated from microbrewery to a "regional brewery" designation. The company says the new facility has a maximum capacity of 90,000 barrels, or 2.8 million gallons of beer. Ninkasi now serves restaurants, bars, grocery stores and other customers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, Montana and San Francisco.