Donning Oktoberfest garb on Saturday, Schilling Beer Company discussed plans to expand the business. Pictured during the celebration are, from left to right, John Lenzini, Chief Brewing Officer; Stu Cozzens, Chief Operating Officer; and, Jeff Cozzens, Schilling's Chief Executive Officer. (Photo by Darin Wipperman) (click for larger version)
September 28, 2016LITTLETON — Three years into a highly successful business, Schilling Beer Company announced expansion plans on Saturday during the company's Oktoberfest celebration on Mill Street. Schilling intends to keep restaurant operations in the former Grist Mill building while adding a new structure on the former mill campus.
The riverside expansion will provide Schilling a chance to dramatically increase the amount of brewing space. Additionally, the building will include a tasting room and a retail area.
Chairman Bruce Cozzens announced the expansion plan to the crowd of Oktoberfest revelers at Schilling on Saturday afternoon.
"It's an honor and a pleasure to be here," Cozzens began.
As he discussed the future of Schilling, Cozzens added, "Our current brew pub isn't going anywhere." Schilling is now housed in the original Grist Mill building, which dates back to the late 18th Century.
Dilapidated remnants of mill buildings stood in the space where the new building will go. The demolition of the buildings was completed earlier this month.
Bruce's sons Jeff and Stuart are also leaders in Schilling. Another important cog in the magic Schilling has created since opening in September 2013 is John Lenzini, who heads the company's brewing operations.
Prior to the afternoon's announcement, the Cozzens brothers and Lenzini discussed the past and future of Schilling during a tour of the current brewing operation, confined to the lower level of the busy restaurant.
With additional operations at the new building, Schilling will be able to increase brewing space by about 500 percent.
Of the idea of that much more room for brewing, Lenzini said, "We really want to increase our portfolio."
This includes an oak-aged product line and other brewing adventures.
Schilling has enjoyed an expansion of operations even with just the current building. Lenzini noted that the company now uses 40 fermentation barrels. In September 2013, Schilling only had ten. The now-cramped basement is simply no longer big enough.
Even with the ability of the big Mill building to facilitate a lot of growth, Jeff Cozzens discussed why brewing expansion is necessary. The company has been "making beer as fast as we are selling it."
Stu Cozzens mentioned how the evolution of Schilling has been "really exciting to watch" since the company launched three years ago.
Schilling's leadership knows making legendary beer would not mean much without great employees to make customers happy. Stu said from the beginning Schilling has employed "an amazing staff that was passionate" about the company's mission.
Input employees provide is a great way for Schilling to become better on an ongoing basis, Stu continued.
"To see the staff assisting in that way is pretty special," he said.
With the additional space next door, Stu said the brewing operation at Schilling will continue to be "a display of John's expertise and skill."
Lenzini learned a great deal about brewing while spending time in Europe. He is fluent in German, and has translated old recipes as he practices his craft.
The new facility will offer Schilling a chance to implement what Jeff called a "vertical aging process." That way, a Schilling customer will be able to enjoy the same beer in annual ages up to three years old.
Schilling also intends to offer four-can packs of 16 ounce beers, as well as 750 milliliter bottles. Over last winter, the dark beer Fall of Babylon had a limited run of 750 ml bottles, with the supply running out in a short time.
As mentioned by his dad later in the afternoon, Jeff said Schilling will continue to value the restaurant operations in the old mill building. He referred to Schilling's current home as "a piece of North Country culture."
Jeff sees the new building as a great chance for Schilling to make the most of a truly splendid location. People will be able to taste and enjoy Schilling products, he said, "all the while, they'll be looking at the Ammonoosuc River."
Thus, a key part of the equation that has worked so well for Schilling is the town where the company has excelled. Jeff Cozzens summed up Schilling's love of Littleton with one sentence, "To say we're thrilled to be here certainly is an understatement."
Schilling frequently hosts live music and other events, including an annual March head shaving fundraiser to fight childhood cancer. To learn more, go to: www.schillingbeer.com or www.facebook.com/schilling.beer.