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Turnkey Breweries Offer Another Path to Growth

A defunct brewery up for sale can be ideal for others looking to open or expand quickly—but this often comes with compromises on location, size, and space. Here, brewery operators who’ve recently been down that road share some lessons learned.

Ben Keene May 10, 2021 - 15 min read

Turnkey Breweries Offer Another Path to Growth Primary Image

Jackie O’s on Fourth in Columbus, Ohio, is preparing for a 2021 grand opening after taking over the former abode of Elevator Brewing, which closed in mid-2020. Photo: Courtesy Jackie O’s

“It’s like building an airplane while you’re in the air,” says John Dantzler, describing the experience of repairing and upgrading the large, neglected brewing facility he and business partner Joe Correia acquired in 2018.

The two friends behind Torch & Crown Brewing had begun looking for a location in New York City two years earlier. They ended up seeing 300 different places before purchasing the assets and assuming the lease from Chelsea Craft Brewing Company in a bankruptcy auction. Located in the Bronx, the 10,000-square-foot space included a 30-barrel brewhouse along with 30-, 60-, and 90-barrel fermentors. It was more capacity than they needed—and it wasn’t in Manhattan, where they ultimately wanted to open—but the price was right, and it immediately set them up to work toward a long-term goal of wider distribution.

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Author of The Great Northeast Brewery Tour, a contributor to The Oxford Companion to Beer, and former editor of BeerAdvocate, Ben Keene has judged beer competitions across the US and has spoken at industry conferences and conventions. He lives in Seattle.