In the past two years, Matt Beeson’s Swamp Dragon hot sauce has grown from being available in roughly 80 regional grocery stores to more than 300 nationwide. Beeson now has plans to boost manufacturing and distribution to further grow the footprint of his Baton Rouge-based brand.
Beeson is waiting on permits to start renovating a space on Balis Drive, behind the Walmart on College Drive, to become his company’s new manufacturing facility. He’s currently using the LSU Food Incubator two days a month to produce his rum-, vodka- and other liquor-based hot sauces, which he bottles by hand.
He estimates after moving into the production facility he’ll be able to increase production by more than 1000% to nearly a million bottles per year.
“I don’t see any reason why I can’t grow this as fast as the world will let us grow,” Beeson says, adding he has verbal agreements to expand into several Albertsons subsidiary chains, including Acme Markets that operate nearly 200 stores in the northeast. He’s looking to close those deals by the end of the year.
Earlier this month, Beeson was featured in an episode of VICE’s Most Expensivest, hosted by Georgia-born rapper 2 Chainz. For the episode, Beeson crafted a batch of hot sauce made from a $600 bottle of 50-year-old New Orleans cognac. Since then, he’s also made a second edition of Private Reserve Swamp Dragon from a $1,300 bottle of rum, which is selling for $500 a bottle.
While unsure if he’ll continue creating high-end hot sauces, decribing them as “a good time that doesn’t fit the business model,” he is looking to expand the company’s merchandise offerings and create a backstory for the little red dragon serving as the company’s mascot.
“Mass market retail is the ultimate objective,” Beeson says. “I want to be a global brand. I want to be in every restaurant, every grocery store—just everywhere. I’m ready.”