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Beltway Brewing to open soon for contract brewing business

From the Washington Business Journal

By Rebecca Cooper  – Digital Editor, Washington Business Journal

The idea came to Beltway Brewing Co.'s Sten Sellier a couple of years ago when he was searching, in vain, for a brewery that could produce a small amount of one of the beers he had been perfecting as a home brewer.

"I was calling around and no one was really interested in helping me with a project like that," Sellier said. Beltway Brewing opens within the next couple of weeks in Sterling, and it will be devoted almost entirely to contract brewing, meaning brewing someone else's product.

The practice isn't as common in the area as it once was, mainly because many breweries want to reserve capacity for their own products, Sellier said.

"There are a lot of other people like me, individuals or smaller breweries who can't justify the expense of sinking hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars into a brewery just to build their own brand," said Sellier. "There wasn't an existing brewery that served that need."

So Sellier switched gears and decided that instead of trying to market his own brand, he would open a brewery in Loudoun County that took contract brewing jobs big and small. He raised nearly $2 million in startup capital from a variety of investors.

"The moment I put up a website, the phone just started ringing," Sellier said. "I pretty much never looked back from there. We have quite a line forming out the door of folks ready to have us brew for them."

Sellier wouldn't identify any of those potential clients, citing contract negotiations that are still ongoing, but approximately 75 percent of them are startups or independent home brewers looking to "go pro," he said. The rest are either restaurants who want to serve a private-label beer or out-of-state breweries trying to break into the D.C. market. Those out-of-state breweries would rather make the beer nearby than ship it from far away.

Sellier hopes to put the first brew in the tanks at the beginning of August, meaning it will be ready for prime-time in a couple of months. He also plans to build a tasting room and retail area, although that's not taking top priority right now.

"We may do a couple of our own things out of our tasting room, but you're never going to see a Beltway-branded beer on a store shelf," he said. "It's really important to us not to develop a brand to compete with our clients."

View the original article from the Washington Business Journal here.

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