Minhas Craft Brewery in Monroe had a record year for beer production in 2011, but the milestone likely won't stand for long.
The brewery, founded in 1845, produced almost 300,000 barrels of beer in 2011, a 15 percent increase over 2010.
President Gary Olson says a goal of 350,000 barrels is attainable this year.
"Optimistically, I wouldn't be surprised to hit 350 this year," Olson said. "We're off to a big start in January, so is it possible to hit 350? I could see it happening."
Olson attributed the growth to the introduction of a craft beer line and an increase in the sale of its value brands such as Boxer Lager and Mountain Crest Classic Lager. The brewery also produces 20 brands of beer under contract for 10 brewing companies. The contract production accounts for 20 percent of the beer brewed at the plant. Contract beers include Berghoff, Rhinelander and Dixie.
The brewery, with 61 employees, was previously known as the Joseph Huber Brewing Co. It was purchased in 2006 by Ravinder Minhas, who has spent more than $6 million on expansions and upgrades. A $500,000 project to increase storage for aging beer and to upgrade refrigeration is scheduled for completion by this spring, Olson said.
In 2010, Minhas was ranked by the Colorado-based Brewers Association as the 14th largest brewery in the country with annual production of 176,000 barrels. The association's figures do not include contract brewing for other beer companies.
Anheuser-Busch in St. Louis was the top beer producer with 102 million barrels, while Wisconsin's New Glarus Brewing Co. was ranked 30th with 92,000 barrels. The association's report for 2011 is expected to be released this month.