Beautiful! Our fermenters, bright tank, and cold liquor tank are being finished up as you read. Goosebumps.
After much research early in the game, the number one bit of advice from most breweries was not to start too small. It’s hard enough trying to make ends meet in the beginning without the looming need to expand relatively quickly after starting. We took their advice and decided to start a little bigger and grow into them. This way we can focus 100% on bringing all of our beer crazed friends new and exciting beers to enjoy!
Slated to arrive mid-September. Wait, that’s this month?! Okay slated to arrive in the upcoming weeks. It’s game time at BarrelHouse Brewing!
If you haven’t driven by the brewery to sneak a peak, it’s pretty darn big. We knew signage on a building this size couldn’t be small. Due to costs and budgeting a custom ordered sign wasn’t even a consideration. With an armful of our favorite brewery’s brews we hit the drinking board.
Side note, every business plan should add a line item for beer. We’re finding it takes a considerable amount of great beer to make great beer.
Back to our sign, we knew it had to represent what we’re about: rustic, hand-crafted, solid, etc. We wanted raw elements, no plastic or glass. Metal and/or wood were our options. Wood would be great, but the longevity just isn’t there. Metal it is. Shiny and modern or old and rusted. Not even a question. To maximize the space we’ll need 11 three-feet tall letters, 9 two-and-half-feet tall letters, and a circle logo six-feet wide, simple enough.
We called on a local metal fabricator, sent over our designs, and then sat back and wondered what the hell are we doing. Nothing new.
A couple weeks later Jason got a call from the fabricator. They had just cut the first letter and, like our logo, all of the edges were really jagged and uneven. They weren’t sure if this was what we wanted. Jason ran over to take a look. His only words were, “Perfect, absolutely perfect.”
A week later, we were back at the brewery with twenty iron letters in the back of Jason’s truck. Thank goodness for forklifts. On top of the metal letters were a couple boxes. Jason grinned and handed me gloves, “It’s time to rust.” We laid the letters out and alternated coats of the magic rust spray and water mist. Within seconds rust started to form, we repeated these steps until we reach the desired look. Finally, he neutralized and sealed.
All done! Wait. No, we still need to get these three-feet tall paper weights mounted twenty feet above ground. Oh and backlit. Back to the ‘drinking board.’
It’s really important for us to stay connected with everyone in our community, especially local brewers. Jason has been part of the San Luis Obispo Brewers (SLOBs) since college and I was excited to connect with them as soon as I moved up. It didn’t take long for me to realize this group was stupid. Stupid in a ridiculously amazing way! They welcomed us with opened bottles of some of the best brews I’ve ever tasted. Not to mention a wealth of knowledge.
The nucleus of this outgoing club is Doc’s Cellar in San Luis Obispo. Sure, we could have easily purchased all of our grains, hops, yeast and other pilot brewing goodies from any number of online sources. But, we have to support our local guys and we just love spending hours in there talking ‘shop’. Thanks to George and the rest of the crew for always taking great care of us.
One of the members sent an email out letting everyone know he had some fresh wet hops. Nugget and Chinook. After a couple days I jumped on it. I sent Michael B an email and we planned to meet. I figured he had a couple bags full. To my surprise he had full bines with a hearty amount of fresh hops. Yea! We harvested and they went straight to the brewery where our wonderful wives spent a few hours removing the flowers. Oh yea, west coast pale ale with fresh wet hops here we come!
Our Brewhouse platform is back and ready for brewing. We upgraded the stairs for safety, added specialized adjustable feet to reduce the surface area contact with the brewhouse floor (always a good thing), and slapped our BHBC logo on the back. After all, this platform is going to be the center piece of the Brewhouse and Tasting Room. Let’s see only three large vessels and a 100 of feet of stainless piping to polish, rebuild a handful of pumps, order all new gaskets, seals, and brewers hose, add power, steam, and water, plug it all in and cross our fingers. Now where did we put the rest of the brewhouse…
Ring – Ring – Ring
Jason: ”Hey, what you doing?”
Chris: “Researching ancient yeast strains. What’s up?”
Jason: ”Cool, can you meet me in Grover Beach?”
Jason: ”Now? (chuckle)”
Chris: “Oh this is going to be good!”
Jason: ”See ya soon.”
Probably not verbatim. Ha. But, I knew Jason had found something and we needed to move on it. He told me during my drive he’d gotten a call from a source early that morning telling him about a large walk in cooler that the owner was thinking about selling. Used large walk in coolers are hard to come by and usually expensive, so we had to move on any lead we received. So, before my morning coffee we found ourselves in the back of an old market digging through a mass of old equipment and rotting produce to look at this beast. We quickly realized it only has three walls, but it was good size. If the cooling unit is good, it might be worth it. Of course, no one knows where it is or where to gain roof access. Minutes later, we find ourselves a few businesses down, in the back of medical center trying to gain access to the roof. We finally get on the roof and to our surprise the unit is solid. I scratch my head, Jason gives me a raised eyebrow and he’s off to start negotiating with the owner. An agreement is made on the roof and we call in the reinforcements. Luckily Kevin was at the brewery in Paso Robles with their construction crew. In minutes, they were loaded and headed our way. We spent the rest of the day ripping the cooler out, getting the unit off the roof, and loading everything onto a trailer.
Yep these are our days. I wouldn’t change it for the world. After all great beer isn’t just made, it’s crafted from love and hard work.