SOUTH BURLINGTON, Vt. – Magic Hat Brewing Company will leave their South Burlington facility in the coming months and shift production to Rochester, N.Y. as part of an agreement that would allow Zero Gravity to take over the building and brewing equipment.
Magic Hat has been located on Bartlett Bay Road in South Burlington since 1994, but on Tuesday FIFCO USA said it can no longer keep multiple brewing locations open. FIFCO USA oversees Genesee Brewing Company, Magic Hat, Portland Brewing Company and Pyramid Brewing Company.
“We’d just like to say we’re very grateful to have been part of the Burlington community for so many years,” said Mary Beth Popp, FIFCO USA Vice President of Corporate and Brand Communication. “We’re going to begin a new chapter, but our employees in the Burlington community have been a big part of Magic Hat and will always be part of our DNA as we move forward with a new approach.”
Headquartered in Rochester, FIFCO USA is one of the top 10 brewers in the U.S. Their Rochester brewery received a $50 million upgrade in 2018.
Pending the deal’s closure on July 1, Zero Gravity will acquire Magic Hat’s brewing equipment and their building. Zero Gravity CEO Matt Wilson said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to expand beyond the company’s Burlington location while staying close by.
“It was really truly a dream come true in a lot of ways,” Wilson said. “We were running up against the capacity of our Pine Street brewery and trying to find ways to continue meeting a growing demand without having to build a brand new brewery from scratch.”
43 people work at Magic Hat in South Burlington – they’ll be considered for open positions at Zero Gravity, and those leaving the company will get severance pay.
The expansion will allow Zero Gravity to ramp up production of favorites like Conehead and Green State Lager.
“We can brew on a scale that will also allow for us to see higher levels of consistency among products,” Wilson said. “We’ve been truly so lucky to get where we are now, and this allows us to grow in a way that’s truly organic.”
Magic Hat had already been brewing some of their products in Rochester, and felt this was the best long-term opportunity for both parties.
Recent upgrades at FIFCO USA’s Rochester brewery included a new brew house, dry hopping system, yeast separator, beer filter, ingredient addition system, cleaning system and fermentation and storage tanks. A new draft center was added earlier this year.
“As one of the first craft breweries in Vermont, Magic Hat has created a storied history in Burlington,” said Rich Andrews, CEO of FIFCO USA. “From Alan Newman starting the brewery here, to the wildly creative team who concocted Mardi Gras which attracted crowds of people, our brewery and people have been part of the Vermont community for 26 years. Our ties to Burlington made this decision very difficult.”
Zero Gravity will continue to operate its taproom and brewpub on Pine Street in Burlington. The new location will be used to expand production and packaging.