Fort Collins Home-brew Company Hits it Big Nationwide
Photo: Owners of Ruby Street brewing Co. Brian Mollohan, right, and his father Jim Mollohan stand next to their homebrewing system that they sell around the world. / David Young/Coloradoan
From the Coloradoan:
Like many home brewers, Brian Mollohan got the point where his friends and family urged him to open his own small brewery. However, unlike many home brewers, Mollohan realized he preferred building brewing systems to actually brewing the beer.
Knowing that opening a brewery could become just another job, Mollohan instead launched Ruby Street Brewing, LLC., a Fort Collins-based home beer-brewing equipment company.
That was a little more than a year ago and today, Mollohan, 37, and his father Jim Mollohan, 66, sell their home-brew gear across the country and globe.
In a small shop off of South College Avenue, the father-son team manufactures two systems: a 15-gallon kettle, 10-gallon batch system; and “The Mega Ruby” a 30-gallon kettle that makes a 20-gallon batch. The systems run between $2,550 and $3,260.
While it is made in Fort Collins, Ruby Street’s gear is not available here because the Mollohans only sell through home-brew supply shops. Fort Collins’ home-brew shop does not carry Ruby Street’s systems, Mollohan said.
Surrounding areas such as Windsor, Longmont and Denver have shops that carry the equipment, but most of the company’s sales come from the East Coast, Mollohan said. Nationally, 85 home-brew shops carry Ruby Street Brewing systems. The company has shipped its systems to Australia, New Zealand and Canada.
Mollohan said the response from the East Coast to their systems is because there is less of a “do-it-yourself” culture there compared to Colorado and the West.
While the company on occasion will work directly with local customers on custom jobs, Mollohan’s dedication to home-brew shops is based on his own experience with learning to brew via home-brew stores.
The company is capitalizing on the surge in interest nationwide in home brewing. In 2011, Mollohan reports making $60,000 and projects $80,000 in sales for this year.
An estimated 1 million Americans home brew, according to the American Homebrewers Association. The industry saw a gross revenue increase of 16 percent in 2009, 17 percent in 2010 and 24 percent year-over-year in 2012.
Ruby Street’s systems are even helping launch new breweries.
Shawn Fitzgerald, a home brewer and Web architect with Agilent, has been using his Mega Ruby to brew for a year and said it makes brewing more fluid and easier.
Fitzgerald, 41, of Berthoud is in the midst of opening his own brewery called Berthoud Brewing Co. next summer.
Fitzgerald said he likes his Ruby Street Brewing system so much that he plans to use it as his pilot brew system in the new brewery that will also have a 10-barrel brew system in place.
“I have been using his (Mollohan’s) system as a pilot system and perfecting recipes with it,” Fitzgerald said. “My Ruby Street Brewing I’ve had for about a year and it’s a great system. Having worked on home-brew systems since 2000, when I started brewing, it’s definitely nice.”