LONGMONT - Oskar Blues Brewery is kicking off 2014 by expanding its distribution footprint by five states as the local craft beer company gears up to grow by a third or more this year.

The Longmont-based brewery announced recently plans to begin distributing to Idaho, Minnesota, Kansas, Nevada and Delaware sometime in the first quarter of this year. That's in addition to increased distribution in southern Alabama.

The new additions bring the number of states where Oskar Blues brews can be purchased to 37.

Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis said the company is projecting production of 160,000 to 180,000 barrels this year. That's up from 119,000 in 2013, which was double the brewery's output from just two years earlier.

"There's potential for additional markets in the second half of the year but we're really focused on growing these markets out early in the year and getting them up and running," Oskar Blues spokesman Chad Melis said Monday.

The rapid growth has been made possible by a number of investments in equipment, as well as the addition of a new brewery and taproom in Brevard, North Carolina that began brewing in December 2012. The Brevard brewery shipped more than 46,000 barrels in its first year of operation.

"We're in a good position to meet demand," Melis said.

Meeting demand hasn't always been easy as the popularity of the brand has grown exponentially since Dale Katechis founded Oskar Blues in Lyons in 1997. Just a few years ago, the brewery had to temporarily halt distribution to some states because of overwhelming demand.

Idaho is the last of those states for the brewery to re-enter.

"That was the only one we did for an extended period," Melis said. "It's a frustrating thing for everybody when you can't supply the beer to the beer drinkers and beer fans."