WarPigs Plans Could Help Three Floyds Grow in More Ways than One

Austin Ray

THE GIST
Three Floyds and Mikkeller are bringing their collaborative WarPigs beer concept to the United States. As reported by the Chicago Tribune, the brand will debut in Chicago this week, in the form of draft and cans of Lazurite IPA, Salmon Pants Lager, and Foggy Geezer Hazy IPA. All three beers, the Tribune notes, have previously been produced and sold at the WarPigs Brewpub in Copenhagen, Denmark, which Three Floyds and Mikkeller opened together in April of 2015. Unlike the Denmark brewpub, however, the two companies aren’t launching WarPigs in the U.S. with a dedicated production facility. Rather, WarPigs beers will be brewed for American drinkers under contract at Great Central Brewing (Chicago) and Wisconsin Brewing. 

WHY IT MATTERS
Given WarPigs’ physical presence in Copenhagen, the Tribune inquired about the possibility of a brewpub build-out in Chicago. The response, per a brewery spokesperson: “It could happen.” It doesn’t require a grand imagination, though, to picture that as an ideally envisioned end goal.

To start: Three Floyds has reportedly pursued the idea of operating a brewpub in Chicago’s Humboldt Park, going so far as to buy a piece of real estate in the area rumored to be used for such a project. But Indiana’s former production cap would’ve barred the company from operating such a facility, even across state lines since it was set at 30,000 barrels (it's now 90,000). As a result, they sold the property at a loss back in 2014. Three Floyds went on to complete a $10M expansion project giving them a capacity of 100,000 BBLs, and produced 55,248 barrels in 2016, according to the Brewers Association.

But Three Floyds still has some sort of mysterious involvement with the land. The project was resurrected this past September, when construction crews took to the site and Three Floyds confirmed that “something cool” was happening. The company didn’t disclose much more than that, but founder Nick Floyd clarified to Eater at the time, “I might not own any of it, which is sad.” The company did not respond to request for comment as of press time, but if Three Floyds is detached from the ownership, WarPigs could ostensibly provide an entry into Chicago that doesn't count against Three Floyds' production numbers at all, since out-of-state production doesn't count against the Indiana cap. 

Such a build out would also follow Mikkeller’s more direct ventures in Los Angeles and San Francisco, where the gypsy brewer—most famous for not having physical locations before they finally did—operates a pair of beer bars. 

Furthermore, the two sides have teased that WarPigs was being positioned as a possible chain of brewpubs. As our April feature noted: “Unless something cataclysmic happens, there’s no way Copenhagen will be the only location… Whether it comes to the shores of the United States, or ventures further afield in Europe, WarPigs is built to grow. ‘It’s a brand that we would love to spread all over the world, where we brew fresh beer and smoke great meat,’ Mikkel [Borg Bjergsø, Mikkeller founder] says.”

—Dave Eisenberg

[Editor's note: This story has been updated to clarify Indiana laws regarding production caps for in-state vs. out-of-state, and the timing of the property sale relevant to Three Floyds' production levels at the time.]

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Three Floyds launching WarPigs beer in Chicago with Danish brewer Mikkeller [Chicago Tribune]