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Great Escape seeks to expand brewing production by 500%

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Less than a year into operation, Great Escape Beer Works LLC entered a distribution deal with Heart of America Beverage Co. in an effort to boost production by 500%.

Jake Duensing, who owns the Galloway Village brewing company with his wife Jen, said the Heart of America deal allows Great Escape to distribute to more bars and restaurants. Great Escape’s beer is currently available on draft at The Rock, its neighbor in the Quarry Town development, and soon will be on tap at The Pitch Pizza & Pub and Patton Alley Pub.

“We’ve actually had quite a few bar and restaurant either owners or managers come in and ask how they can get our beer,” Duensing said. “As a small business, every day is kind of a new experience. We’re aiming for growth and have been really pleased with the reception.”

Through the deal with Heart of America, the distributor will buy Great Escape’s beer and take it to bars and restaurants where it will be sold on draft, Duensing said. Noting Missouri law requires breweries to contract with a distributor for outside sales, he said talks are ongoing as to whether Great Escape will expand sales outside of the Springfield market.

To facilitate the production growth plans, Duensing said Great Escape purchased new equipment, including a five-barrel brewhouse and six 10-barrel fermenters. He declined to disclose the investment in the equipment.

Duensing said Great Escape is on track to produce 350 barrels in 2019, and with the distribution deal and capital investment, is targeting more than 1,800 barrels in 2020. The brewery opened Dec. 15, 2018.

“I would expect that we’re going to have to hire between two and three more employees sometime next year,” he said, noting a new hire is scheduled to start next week, bringing the staff to six employees, not including the Duensings.

Great Escape currently sells a German-style blonde ale called Vagablonde and Woodscraft, an American-style IPA, as its core offerings, Jake Duensing said, noting the brewery plans to add seasonal beverages starting around summer 2020.

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