ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When he was starting out, Marble Brewery President Ted Rice figured 5,000 square feet of space would give him enough room to brew 5,000 barrels of beer per year.
The problem — if you want to call it that — is that 5,000 barrels wasn’t nearly enough to sate the state’s appetite for the beer Rice and his crew were making. Marble Brewery, founded in 2008, quickly exceeded Rice’s initial expectations and has for years been making more than twice that amount at the same Downtown Albuquerque building it started in eight years ago.
Marble, in fact, produced 14,700 barrels last year.
“Fifteen thousand barrels in 5,000 square feet is somewhat remarkable,” said Rice, also Marble’s brewmaster and co-owner. “We’re looking forward to having some breathing room and building some efficiencies.”
Marble finally has that breathing room, now that work is wrapping on a $4 million expansion at its Downtown flagship at 111 Marble NW. The project added 7,000 additional square feet of production space and enough new equipment that Marble, which has struggled for years to make enough beer to meet demand, is in a position to produce as much as 30,000 barrels annually.
While it’s still unclear how long it will take Marble to max out in its new space, “I’m pretty confident we’ll easily hit 20,000 barrels this year,” Rice said. “That might be a conservative estimate.”
Marble plans to formally unveil the expansion next week, showing off the shiny 150-barrel tanks brought in from Nevada, the high-ceilinged cooler with space for 80 pallets stacked with cans and bottles, and the new centrifuge that Rice said will take two days off of production time and increase yields by 10 to 15 percent. Additional tanks are still to come, as is the installation of a new canning line that will allow Marble to expand its canned offerings to include its Double White and Red Ale.
The multi-million-dollar project is just one way Marble is getting bigger. An expansion is nearly complete at the West Side taproom, where Marble is doubling its square footage and headed toward a seating capacity of about 300. Marble also aims to open its new Northeast Heights taproom near Montgomery and Eubank this spring. Even the pub at the Downtown flagship is getting bigger — work is under way to create a rooftop deck that should debut this spring.