Originally Posted Online: Sept. 28, 2012, 9:22 pm
Last Updated: Sept. 28, 2012, 11:12 pm

Bent River Brewing grows to meet demand

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By Sarah Hayden, shayden@qconline.com

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Photo: Paul Colletti
Q-C residents enjoy locally-brewed beer from Bent River Brewing Company.

ROCK ISLAND -- People were laughing and beer was flowing as Bent River Brewing Co. celebrated the grand opening of its new distribution center and tasting room on Friday afternoon.

A week of festivities at 512 24th St., that began on Monday, concludes with a grand opening bash today, starting at 4 p.m., with live entertainment and outdoor grilling.

The brewpub is located in a former carwash, with the original rolling doors opening onto an outdoor patio area. Inside, a cool, industrial feel features exposed ventilation and a viewing window into the brewing room. Customers can watch brewers at work as they cook up seasonal beers such as Sweet Potato Ale, Batch No. 1 and Broadway Stout.

With the success of the original brewpub at 1413 5th Ave., Moline, Bent River found it could not keep up with demand. Opened in 1997, its popularity soared in recent years to where its owners realized an additional location was needed.

"We started talking about expanding four years ago, to look for something we could use as a wholesale operation," said managing partner Nick Bowes. "We saw sales double at our Moline facility and we couldn't keep up."

Several times, Bent River had to tell distributors they were out of beer, Mr. Bowes said. The new distribution center doubles its brewing capacity, producing 600 more kegs per month.

"This location has greater production capacity," said Joel Krogman, one of the four owners. "It also has future growth potential as we plan to add more tanks."

Bent River spent $1.75 million on new vats and renovations on the 10,000-square-foot facility that began last September and finished in May. Brewing began in June, using a process that includes 10 to 12 days of fermentation and 10 days of aging.

Five vats can ferment 30 barrels at a time, with two brite vats that allow carbonation used for aging. The added production capacity has allowed Bent River to sign contracts with distributors in Peoria, Galesburg, Cedar Rapids, Waterloo and Dubuque, said Mr. Krogman.

Along with the brewing room, the new facility houses a tasting room/bar that seats 100 people, a merchandise shop and a private reception area that can accommodate 60 people. An online store will be available in the next two months said Mr. Bowes.

"This is an excellent addition to the community," said Rock Island Mayor Dennis Pauley. "They've taken an old car wash and turned it into a viable business."

The former car wash came with extensive plumbing and a trench drain, which is used regularly to drain run-off, said Mr. Bowes. A bottling production line recently was added, and Mr. Bowes said Bent River hopes to have bottles in stores by Christmas.

Twelve people now work at the new location, with 12 more to be hired once the bottling line is running.

"To have their products in a bottle is amazing. It's a great way to expand," said Vanguard Distributing salesman Doug Berry. "Uncommon Stout is my friend."

For more information, visit bentriverbrewing.com.

Bent River's Best

Bent River swept the first three places at WQPT’s annual Brew Ha Ha in Davenport this year. Its winners included:

-- 1st, Uncommon Stout: A medium-bodied ale that infuses an oatmeal stout with coffee.

-- 2nd, Mississippi Blond: A light-bodied golden-colored ale.

-- 3rd, Jalapeno Ale: A light-bodied ale with sweet fruit and peppers.

The brewpub also is known for:

-- American Wheat: An amber-colored beer that is medium-bodied with the taste of wheat.

-- Pale Ale: A full-bodied ale rich with hops.

-- Oatmeal Stout: A dark beer with a roasted malt flavor.