101 Alexander Ave, Pompton Plains, NJ 07444
FAIRFIELD – It’s been a little more than a year since Magnify Brewing exploded onto New Jersey’s beer scene, but after dozens of brews, tap takeovers and bottle releases, they’re ready to expand and nearly double production.
“We had a pretty great first year,” Magnify owner Eric Ruta said. “But we’re ready for bigger and better things in year two.”
To make those things a reality though, Ruta needs more space.
“Basically we just don’t have enough beer,” Ruta said. “Obviously you plan for growth, but we started at a decent size. We were big enough to be making a good amount of beer from day one, but, for example, we have four sixtel (kegs) of Vine Shine for the weekend, and that’s going to go fast.”
Ruta said in addition to supplying beer for the tasting room and limited releases at the brewery in Fairfield, he has more than 200 bars and restaurants he delivers to. But he can’t take on any more at the current capacity.
“We’re having trouble fulfilling the accounts we already have,” Ruta said. “The last three months we haven’t sought out anything new.”
Magnify also sells a limited number of bottles and cans at select local chains – Bottle King, Gary’s Wine and Marketplace, Total Wine, and Wegmans – but there is a wait list of more than a dozen other stores he doesn’t have the volume to sell his beer to.
“We recently got a salesperson and we don’t have beer for them to sell,” Ruta said. “I’m humbled and shocked that we’ve grown so fast. I know our beer is good but the fact that it’s moved like this is shocking.”
Which is why Ruta said it’s time to magnify Magnify’s operation. His brewery is already taking up the maximum amount space the Bloomfield Avenue industrial building can hold between the brew house, storage, and tasting room.
So he’s leased a second location in the Pompton Plains section of Pequannock Township, a 2,000-square-foot building that will be used exclusively for storage and distribution once its license is approved by the state.
“I’m not doing this to open in any new markets. I’m trying to satisfy the market we’re in,” Ruta said. “We’re going to be making a good amount of beer and it should be sooner rather than later.”
Moving storage to a separate location will provide extra space in the brew house – which currently houses four 20-barrel fermenters and two large oak foeders (wooden fermenters) – and will allow Ruta to bring in another 20-barrel and a 40-barrel fermenter, increasing fermentation by 75 percent.
“Right now every square inch of this place is used to the fullest,” Ruta said. “And it will be again when the new fermenters come. We’re lean and mean and want to make every bit of space count.”
Those fermenters are expected to arrive on July 25 and also increase efficiency in the brew house. Ruta said Magnify made about 1,300 barrels of beer last year, and expects that to grow to 3,000 in the coming year.
“It’s going to keep us at a great size, right where we want to be,” Ruta said. “Big enough to be relevant but maintain quality and allow us to brew small batches and one-offs. That’s the reason why I started the brewery and the reason why our (head brewer Erich Carrle) comes to work every day. And it’s great that people seem to be as excited about that as we are.”
Ruta said one of his two oak foeders is now devoted to lagers, which take a longer time to brew than ales. The first is expected to be released in August.
“It’s going to be called ‘Uncharted Territories,’ ” Ruta said. “I’m pretty sure we’re the first lager ever fermented in oak.”
He also hopes to add a canning line in the fall, which will allow for more in-house releases. Currently, Magnify bottles and cans its beer through a separate service.
And even though the tasting room is regularly filled to capacity on weekends, don’t expect Ruta to leave his Fairfield location any time soon.
“We’re not looking to pack up and leave in six months. We’re going to be here a while,” Ruta said. “When we get too small for this next capacity, we’ll have to figure that out too, and I’m looking forward to it.”
Follow Magnify on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @MagnifyBrewing or visit www.MagnifyBrewing.com for updates.