Dreams are easy. Making them work, that can be hard.
David Heinz and Sean Gerrity co-own Henry T’s restaurant with two locations in Lawrence and Topeka, Kansas. A few years ago, the partners started looking into adding a brewery to their lineup.
“I had plans to make our own beer a long time ago,” David said. “I had been doing the research, trying to put all the pieces together and seam it together with our existing businesses. It took a long time for everything to come together.”
The Birth of Yankee Tank Brewing
David has been in the restaurant business for more than 20 years. During that time, he has opened 15+ restaurants and bought a lot of expensive, high maintenance equipment. So when he started shopping around for a brewery, he knew what he wanted.
“I traveled to the Pacific Northwest and visited a lot of companies selling used and new equipment,” David said. “I even visited some Canadian companies, but with my experience, I knew I wanted someone who would be there for me on the service side and A.B.E. was the only one who expressed an interest in that side of the business. Some of the companies I looked at, their interest in you ended as soon as your check cleared.”
“From the beginning, A.B.E. offered a lot of support. I was able to come out and do some brewery training at Blue Blood Brewing. Since I’ve received my equipment, the service support has been fantastic. I wouldn’t know where to go locally to have someone fix the equipment, so it’s huge that A.B.E. has been there for me.”
Building a solid base
Since they started brewing in 2015, David said Yankee Tank Brewing (YTB) has had two complimentary goals: have fun and try new things.
“In the first year, we tried brewing 20 different styles,” David said. “We got feedback, tweaked our recipes and kept going forward. People have really responded to our beer. Before we started producing our own labels, we sold about 300 gallons a week at our restaurants. Today we are selling about 700 gallons.”
Beer drinkers on both sides of the aisle are reacting positively to the YTB offerings.
“The beer we’re making is better received than whatever we had been selling,” David said, “whether it was one of the big macro brands or Sierra Nevada. When we introduced our beers, we didn’t give them a special promotion, they were priced the same because we wanted to see what people thought about them head to head. The response has been so overwhelming to me, it’s scary to think how many barrels we will produce in the next
year, let alone the next five.”
Growing with A.B.E.
David said YTB has already started distributing kegs to other restaurants and bars in the Lawrence and Topeka. Soon, cans will be hitting the local market as well.
“I received advice when we were starting the brewery, and something that stuck with me was to be careful how quickly we grow,” David said. “However, we’ve gotten to a point now where the demand for our beer is high and the number of places you can get it is low. That’s why we’re going back to A.B.E. for a canning line.”
YTB recently placed an order for a LinCan18™ featuring the new servo seamer™ which both increases the overall speed of the canning line and produces a consistently tighter seam which reduces DO pickup. David said YTB’s planned growth doesn’t end there.
“I have a long term business plan and we are going to buy some more equipment from A.B.E. coming down the line,” David said. “I just feel good about continuing to buy from A.B.E. between the quality equipment you offer and the quality service.”