City Lights Brewing expanding into Minnesota, Illinois

Popular new Milwaukee craft brewery City Lights Brewing Co. has been open just more than a year, but it’s already expanding its reach beyond Wisconsin.

The brewery’s founders, the Gohsman family, are traveling to Minnesota this week to mark the brewery’s distribution expansion into the Minneapolis market and beyond. Robin Gohsman and his sons Jimmy and Andy also plan to expand into the Chicago area in March.

“As we expand beyond the friendly confines of Wisconsin, the quality of the beer is of paramount importance,” said Robin Gohsman, the brewery’s president. “Our distributor network in both Minnesota and Illinois have recognized the quality of the beers that our brewing team zealously obsesses over.”

The interstate expansion will result in a significant ramping up of City Lights’ brewing efforts, as the brewery will add new fermentation tanks to double its annual production capacity. Jimmy Gohsman noted the significant expansion in the brewery’s 13th month was “part of the plan.”

“We’re on the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota already and same with Wisconsin and Illinois, so it’s not a huge jump for us,” he said. “That was the plan initially, to get Milwaukee under control and start to grow … Madison, Green Bay areas, northern Wisconsin, and from there, work on surrounding markets.”

Jimmy Gohsman said he also experienced legitimate demand from people in those two states, including from Cubs fans who would visit before and after games at Miller Park last summer.

“We get an insane amount of Chicago people here from Cubs games and brewery tours on weekends,” he said. “There was demand from the markets there that sort of trickled down to distributors.”

Gohsman said he also cold-called distributors in both markets to make the expansion deals happen.

The expansion means City Lights is expanding its packaging workforce and adding equipment to its brewing space in the Menomonee Valley. The brewery will also add its Coconut Porter and Mosaic Pale Ale to its “signature series” of packaged beer.

Patrick Leary, Milwaukee Business Journal

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