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Atwater Brewery adds 5 people as it expands on riverfront

Atwater Brewery's recent growth can be characterized as one of those good problems to have. The microbrewery along Detroit's riverfront doubled its capacity and plans to do so again, but is still trying to keep up the demand for its craft beers.

The 14-year-old brewery doubled its production capacity to 15,000 barrels earlier this year. It plans to double again by next year and has its sights set on producing as much beer as Stroh's did in its heyday in the long-term.

"It's really just meeting our current demand," says Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery. "We can only fill half of our purchase orders and we had to pull out of five states last year to meet demand."

Atwater Brewery has grown to 18 people and a summer intern after hiring five people over the last year. It expects to hire 25 more by 2014 as it continues to be a leader in Michigan's emerging craft brewing industry. Despite some big local names like Bell's and Founders taking prominent space in shelves of bars and supermarkets, micro brewers only account for 4 percent of the market share and only half of that 4 percent comes from Michigan-based breweries, leaving a lot of room to grow.

"It's a great industry from a growth standpoint," Rieth says. "The craft brewing industry has had double-digit growth for seven years in a row."

Rieth says his company is looking at potential sites for its expansion in the city. That could be a simple as expanding its current footprint along the riverfront to include a packaging and storage facility. It could also be somewhere else in the city, but Rieth maintains it will be in Detroit proper. He is also optimistic that Atwater Brewery will open a tap room in the Grand Circus area of downtown Detroit once it locks down the right spot.

"We're firmly grounded here," Rieth says. "I want to be part of the rebirth of the city."

Source: Mark Rieth, owner of Atwater Brewery
Writer: Jon Zemke

Read more about Metro Detroit's growing entrepreneurial ecosystem at SEMichiganStartup.com.
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