Its taproom and brewing facility opened in July 2015, and three months later, it started bottling and distributing its flagship beers for home consumption. In 2016, employees put out 11,500 barrels of branded beer, making Yee-Haw the fourth-largest craft brewery in the state.
Now, it’s getting bigger.
Co-owner Joe Baker and production supervisor John Edwards said Yee-Haw will soon start canning its beer and plans to open new physical locations in Nashville and Greenville, South Carolina.
“We’re certainly excited to be able to grow our brand,” Baker said. “We’re happy to be able to build on what we have in Johnson City.”
The Nashville brewing facility and taproom is expected to open in the spring. Ole Smoky Moonshine — also aligned with Baker — and a music venue will likely join Yee-Haw in a former car dealership campus there.
Baker said the brewery in Nashville will be smaller than the Johnson City production facility.
By adding a canning line in Johnson City, Yee-Haw doubles its production volume, Edwards said. The current bottler, which Edwards said was undersized for the brewery’s purposes, can fill 15 to 18 bottles a minute. The new canner can do 35 to 40.
“It’s really going to allow us to grow by saving costs and protecting the product,” Edwards said.
Cans cost less than bottles and keep light from breaking down acids in beer that can give it a skunky taste. Edwards said cans are also easier to ship than bottles, because they pack more efficiently and the seals don’t break as easily.
For the die-hard bottle drinkers, Yee-Haw will still continue to offer its Dunkel and Eighty brews, but most everything else will be canned.
Edwards said craft drinkers sometimes cling to the bottle a little too tightly, believing that canned beer is either low-brow or mass-produced by a mega-company. That’s probably because most start-ups can only afford small-scale bottling machines, like the one Yee-Haw started with.
But canning should only improve the quality of Yee-Haw’s beer, he said.
The equipment for the new canning line has been delivered to the brewery and is still plastic-wrapped. Edwards said he plans to have it set up next week and running in the next two weeks.
Shortly after that, canned Yee-Haw should hit the shelves.