Schlafly to open new brewery in St. Louis area

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MAPLEWOOD, MO (KTVI)-- For Dan Kopman, this is the brew kettle where it all began.

"So 22 years ago this is where we started, 15 barrels at a time," says Schlafly co-founder Dan Kopman.

In 1991, in Schlafly's tap room they produced about 1,000 barrels of beer that year.

Today, their Maplewood Bottleworks is making between 55 to 60,000 barrels a year. Not bad for an Avant garde ale house.

"Long before terms like craft beer and gastro pub and farm to table and all these terms were part of the modern day food lexicon," says Kopman.

And the little brewery that began with four beers now makes more than 50 varieties, and has a plan to expand.

"We need about 40 acres to make this project work in the long term and we want to do that either here in the city of St. Louis or St. Louis County," says Kopman.

The estimated $20 million expansion could begin next year with a facility opening by 2017 or 2018.

In the meantime, the Maplewood location will see about $1.6 million in improvements beginning next year.

"We're doing some things in Maplewood to improve the amount of beer we have inpackage," says Kopman.  "We produce a lot of beer but we have some filtration losses and other things.  So there`s a little bit more than can come out of Maplewood in terms of beer, but not a lot."

Kopman says there`s no need to fear, there's plenty of beer in the future for the tap room and the Bottleworks.

Those locations won't close, but the new facility will allow for more growth while some things will remain the same.

"So we're all getting a little older and a little slower, but we still enjoy what we do," says Kopman.  "We still enjoy coming to work every day."