This has been a "known" rumor among Chicago's beer community, and was reported by BeerNews.org in August. Now, Goose Island Beer Company has officially announced an agreement to brew some of their beers at Redhook Ales' facility in Portsmouth, New Hampshire over the next three years. The agreement should help Goose Island meet increasing demand while it lays plans for an expansion of its brewing capacity back home in Chicago.
"Brewing beer at Redhook Ale Brewery in Portsmouth is an important first step in the long term growth of Goose Island," said John Hall, president of Goose Island, in a news release. "The Portsmouth brewery's track record of quality control and trusted brewing methods makes them an ideal partner to Goose Island during this expansion period."
With more than 20 percent growth in 2010, Goose Island has almost reached the capacity of its Fulton Street brewery in Chicago. Built in 1995 for a maximum output of 100,000 barrels annually, the brewery is now capable of producing 130,000 barrels (four million gallons) of beer. "The capacity increase this agreement will provide us is necessary to meet the growing demand for Goose Island's beers in the short term," continued Hall. "More importantly it allows us time to plan for a future expansion facility here in Chicago, one that will bring new jobs and beers to the Chicago community for many years."
The article notes that Goose Island's brewers are in Portsmouth working on pilot batches of their Honker's Ale and India Pale Ale, with full production expected to begin in 2011. The beers made at Redhook would not be sold in New Hampshire, but they'd be shipped back to Goose Island's current distributors.
Goose Island has already had an established relationship with Redhook. In 2006, Goose Island sold a 25% ownership stake to Widmer Brothers Brewing Co. of Portland, Oregon. The move helped the Goose pay off some of its original investors, and got their beers wider exposure through a network of independent Anheuser-Busch distributors. Redhook purchased Widmer the next year as part of the publicly traded Craft Brewers Alliance. CBA's stake in Goose Island has increased to 42%, according to beernews.org.
Goose Island has ridden the wave of increasing craft beer popularity, based lately on its 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Increased demand has seem the brewery drop lagers like its Pils and Oktoberfest from its retail lineup, since they require more time to produce. Goose Island has also had to retire older brands like its Nut Brown Ale and Oatmeal Stout, though they will still turn up on draft at their two brewpubs.