Breaking the 10,000 bbl Barrier

Yesterday I noticed long time employee Colleen Bitter eating her lunch in the new back section of the Myrtle Street KettleHouse. Ok Myrtle Street Taphouse (MSTH) to be technically correct, but I’ll get to that later.  Her sandwich sat where a 14 barrel fermenter sat last year, which is where a 10 bbl open fermenter sat inside a walk in cooler ten years ago, which is where a rack for drying pottery sat 19 years ago, which is where a car repair bay sat over 30 years ago.  Four weeks ago another previous employee, Jaimi White, was sitting at those tables ordering a pint of beer after 8 pm. When we started remodeling this former pottery place over 18 years ago, I never would have imagined the “K Hole” would evolve into what it is today. I never dreamed way back then that we’d be selling more than 10,000 barrels of beer per year now.

We had hopes of selling maybe 700 barrels out of the “KettleHouse U-Brew”.  Suzy and I started our brewery with the thought that folks would enjoy making their own high quality beer and reusing their glass bottles in the process.  Keeping things local and keeping waste out of the landfill were our guiding principles back then and still are today. We and our over 30 employees benefit greatly from the generous support we receive from you all. We’re humbled that Missoulians and Western Montanans  believe in keeping it local and the three Rs and CS: reduce, reuse, recycle, and Cold Smoke®!  Because without Cold Smoke® and our other award winning beers we wouldn’t be tasked with constantly remodeling, reinvesting, and growing.

So here we are today eating sandwiches where beer once fermented and ordering pints after 8 pm when customers once lamented (pause for collective groan).  And another change I’m really enjoying is my office is now back on Myrtle Street. I’m the new General Manager at MSTH working for my Mom! (see  Operation Close Our Taprooms for why I work for Mom)  I still have my other job working for the KettleHouse and I’ll also help Suzy out at Northside Brewing Company (NSBC). Ryan “the Dream” Dreamer will continue to lead our crack crew of craft beer servers at Myrtle Street.  You may see a few new faces both serving and making beer there as we continue adding jobs. So what else can you expect from the K-Hole moving forward?

For some background on why we had to reconfigure our business structure  see Drawdown Update.  It explains our predicament two years ago when we were approaching 10k bbls of sales and were faced with shutting down our taprooms to continue our wholesale growth.  For a review on how we hoped to restructure click Operation Close Our Taprooms .

Essentially Operation Close Our Taprooms was a mission accomplished.  Our new serving partnership with MSTH will operate much like the old.  Aside from peanuts, food is not available but you may bring your own food if you choose.  Please enjoy pints of cold KettleHouse beer at 602 Myrtle Street between the hours of noon and 9 Sun-Tues, and noon and 10 the rest of the week.  We will be serving last beers at 8:30 pm Sun.-Tues. and 9:30 pm for Wed.-Sat.  Those times are firm so kindly help us maintain our atmosphere of moderation by not pressuring our staff for an exception or “just one more”.  And while leaving please respect our neighbors’ rights to privacy  and a quiet evening.

At the NSBC located at 313 N 1st Street, hours and serving amounts will remain the same. Sarah and crew are happy to serve you no more than three pints between noon and 8 pm with growlers and pigs availble until 9 pm.   You can still call us the Northside KettleHouse, The North Hole, K2 or whatever suits you. We’ll continue on as if nothing ever happened except that our canning room will be running more often.  The Northside will continue making KettleHouse beers under contract.  You will soon see the following verbiage on our packaging: “Brewed by Northside Brewing Company in Missoula Montana, for Kettlehouse Brewing Company in Missoula Montana”.  But don’t worry- it’s the same people making the same award winning beer you’ve come to expect from us.

The other mission accomplished is we can now continue our wholesale growth. Soon bars and store shelves in the Flathead and Helena valleys will once more offer Cold Smoke®  Scoth Ale and Double Haul® IPA.  We will do our best to keep up with the demand that we expect will continue to outpace supply in the coming years.  I firmly believe that Cold Smoke® has the potential to sell 100 times our earliest projections.  So here we go again, planning another expansion in the coming years.  This facility will allow us to keep up with demand and add our full suite of products with seasonal offerings outside Missoula.

Things have changed in our business but our mission hasn’t. We opened our brewery in our home state to match the quality of our beers to the quality of the Montana outdoor lifestyle. By offering our beers in reusable or recyclable containers, we strive to hear our customers say: “Wow that was the best beer I’ve ever had!”  We’re fortunate to have a dedicated staff that believes in our mission.  A big heartfelt thanks to them and  to you.

Cheers and Sláinte

Tim O’Leary, co-Founder KHole, General Manager MSTH, Flunkie NSBC