Draper Brewing Co. of Tenmile has been named the nation’s sixth fastest growing craft brewery of 2017, the Brewers Association announced in April.
With a production facility in Tenmile and the Draper Draft House tasting room at 640 SE Jackson St., Roseburg, Draper Brewing opened in 2010. Since then, the business has grown to offer craft brews in stores and restaurants around Douglas County, Eugene and Bend.
Sam Draper Eslinger, owner and brewer of Draper Brewing, said he’s honored to be on the top 50 fastest growing list with so many great breweries.
“It’s great news and I hope it benefits the business and puts Douglas County and Roseburg on the map for the craft brewing scene,” Eslinger said.
The Brewers Association is a nonprofit trade association for small and independent craft brewers.
Bart Watson, a chief economist for the Brewers Association, said small breweries are driving the growth in the beer industry.
“More than 4,000 breweries were being considered for that list so being one of the 50 selected shows the ability to stand out and differentiate yourself in a growing market,” Watson said. “Oregon is one of the most competitive markets in the country so it’s especially impressive to stand out in a place like Oregon where the market is very sophisticated, beer lovers know quality and there are a lot of options.”
According to Eslinger, a lot of his brewery’s growth has come from his focus on sour and fruity beers instead of bitter and hoppy IPAs. Eslinger said he currently has 66 wine barrels full of beer that’s aging with estate-grown pears, nectarines, cherries and plums.
“It’s a very old way of making beer, but it’s seeing a rebirth in the craft brewing scene and it’s gaining traction in sales, and it’s definitely something I’m passionate about doing,” he said.
Eslinger also signed with distributor Bigfoot Beverages in 2017, which has put Draper beer into new accounts in the state.
Eslinger said he hopes to begin offering food at the tasting room in the future.
Watson said Draper Brewing has been doing many things to resonate with its locality, like using local fruit in its production.
“We’re seeing that local is king right now, so finding ways to really make ‘local’ mean something to the beer lover helps breweries stand out,” Watson said.
Every year to determine the fastest growing breweries, the Brewers Association does a national survey to receive production information from thousands of breweries. It narrows the list down to those that have been open at least two years and those that have grown the most, whether in the number of barrels they produce each year, in the amount of places they sell to, or through shifting business models.