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Business expansion brew-haha




Defiance Brewing Co.'s cup runneth over.

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Defiance Brewing Co.'s cup runneth over.

Just five months after opening shop, the Hays company has grown beyond making draft and canned beer for select cities across Kansas. Adding three more brewing tanks and signing with 13 distributors has enabled Defiance to ship its products statewide.

Defiance's beer will be available this summer in Kansas City, Mo. Nebraska and Oklahoma are other expansion possibilities.

The tanks hold enough to fill 80,000 cans, said Matthew Bender, co-founder.

"We're about a year ahead of where we were planning to be right now," he said. "We were thinking this was going to happen maybe next winter, getting these in, and we did it in five months."

Two employees have been hired since December to meet demand.

The company's canning machine also has been upgraded. After cans are filled and topped with a lid, a new device rinses and dries them before an employee places them in six packs.

The investments allow Defiance to build on the two beers it has released.

The brewery's fans can expect a "whimsical" year-round beer to be released in the early fall, he said. A seasonal, full-bodied winter beer will be released toward the end of the year.

Defiance also has the capability of releasing limited-time special beers in certain markets.

Dylan Sultzer, co-founder, said Defiance's sales across the state have revealed regional preferences. Thrasher, its India Pale Ale beer, is more popular on the eastern side of the state, and Gutch, a mild ale, sells more on the western side.

The company's success has been a whirlwind for the two men.

"It's surreal. It's nuts," Sultzer said. "We're just making beer. We're just having fun with it. We're just trying to please people."

Defiance has set out to establish its name in the brewing community. It has attended three festivals in Lawrence and Kansas City.

Although operations involve signing contracts, arranging for ingredients and navigating government regulations, the brewers' enthusiasm for their trade is undeterred.

"We get to come in everyday, put on music that we enjoy and make beer," Bender said.

The brewery's two main beers also will be served in the VIP lounge at Wild West Festival this summer.