Ol’ Republic doubling its size again, sponsoring Nevada City Bicycle Classic

Ol’ Republic Brewery is expanding again: The Nevada City brewery is nearly doubling its space for the second time in only a year; it is now selling its bottled beer at grocery giant Whole Foods Market; and it is the principal sponsor of the 55th annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic on Father’s Day, our magazine has learned.

In addition, the brewery is the beer sponsor for a prestigious mountain bike race known as The Dirty Sanchez MTB Enduro in Grass Valley. This is a coup because other nationally known beers such as Lagunitas Brewing Co. had vied for the sponsorship.

The brewery expansion and high-profile event sponsorships come as ol’ Republic celebrates its third anniversary in March. Ol’ Republic’s explosive growth — more akin to a Silicon Valley startup — exemplifies the boom in the craft beer business, as well as the entrepreneurship that is becoming more prevalent in the foothills.

Ol’ Republic is helping to create new jobs, diversify the local economy and boost Nevada City’s tax base. It also is helping to make the Seven Hills Business District of Nevada City a “destination” for beer enthusiasts, along with Jernigan’s Tap House & Grill.

“We’ve been doubling our sales and doubling our space,” says co-founder-brewer Jim Harte. “The year 2015 is a significant step for us to increase production, increase efficiencies and put ourselves on the map as a community-based company driving community events,” adds co-founder Simon Olney.

Expansion and new marketing deals

Some highlights:

•ol’ Republic is acquiring 5,600 square feet of space at its existing brewery in the Seven Hills Business District that used to be occupied by Nevada City Furniture & Mattress. Only last year, the brewery had more than doubled its space from about 3,200 square feet to 7,200 square feet at 124 Argall Way in the historic Gold Rush-era town.

Now ol’ Republic is becoming a nearly 13,000-square-foot operation, representing the “third wave” of its growth. Its beers last year won “best of show” honors at the California State Fair.

Ol’ Republic’s expansion will clear the way for more brewing capacity and a more efficient operation. The brewery will expand to 20 30-barrel tanks from 39 7-barrel tanks. Brewing capacity has grown from about 1,000 barrels annually last year to an expected 2,000 barrels this year to between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels once the  9-month expansion is complete, says Harte.

Nevada City and Nevada County both have been supportive of the expansion plans, he adds.

“Now we can do barrel aged beers,” with the new brewing system, says Harte. The brewery also plans to offer more formal brewery tours and tastings once the latest expansion is complete. Its tap room is a popular gathering spot, with outdoor seating, a flat-screen TV and live entertainment.

As part of the brewery expansion, Ol’ Republic could wind up buying the beer tanks from another local business, Brew Bilt of Nevada City, making it a local win-win deal. Brew Built makes professional grade equipment for micro-brewers, nano-brewers and home-brewers and again exemplifies the boom in the craft beer business. Last year craft brewers recorded record growth, according to the California Craft Brewers Association.

•The Whole Foods stores in the Bay Area and greater Sacramento will begin selling ol’ Republic’s beers in a deal closed this week. The beers will include Frontier Amber for its California Common; Pub Ale for its English-style ale; Dead Canary Lager for its Dortmunder-style Export; and Hell Beer for its Munich-style lager, Olney says.

•ol’ Republic will be the principal sponsor of the 55th annual Nevada City Bicycle Classic on Sunday, June 21. Harte and Olney met with longtime race organizer Duane Strawser, also of Nevada City, and are going to help invigorate the event, according to the two longtime friends. The Nevada City Classic is one of the premiere sporting events in the Sierra foothills, the largest and oldest bike race on the West Coast, and the second-oldest race in the nation.

In addition, ol’ Republic will sponsor the Nevada City cycling team in all their races, with their logo on the racers’ shirts, says Olney.

•The brewery also is the beer sponsor at a prestigious and popular enduro or mountain bike racing event in Grass Valley. The Dirty Sanchez is an invite-only, private event limited to 50 people. “With just over 700 feet of elevation on land sitting adjacent to a massive mine, the courses are quick, no-nonsense, and punctuated by large rubble strewn throughout red mine tailings,” as the website WTB.com explains.

As part of the sponsorship, ‘ol Republic will host a “block party” at its brewery on April 24, along with Cannondale, enduro riders and others. A Cannondale bike will be auctioned off.

Ol’ Republic also will be pouring its beers at San Francisco Beer Week, which is February 6-20.

(Photos: Jim Beckett, SugarPineStudios.com)

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