The build-out of the brewery that now surrounds a fully assembled brewhouse continues daily. Movement, however, seems so very slow right now as the stainless tanks and brew system sit idle while waiting completion of the steam boiler and glycol chiller installation before launching our maiden brew session. But while the scheduling and completion of the steam and glycol necessary to fire up our brewhouse and ferment our first beers is tediously slow, there is a fresh energy in the brewery this week after power was re-connected to the building and the brewhouse was illuminated with brilliant light for the first time in months. I've spent much of my days these last few months working from a corner office wired by a single extension cord. And I've watched the intensely careful and difficult work of the electricians slowly securing a maze of conduit and wire throughout the building. So something about the flood of light that arrived this week brought new life to the previously dimly lit cold we've mostly been forced to work in. It was a moment of sheer delight that came not a moment too soon, for my former office will be converted next week to the mill room. Our new brewery control room is not yet ready for inhabitants, so I'll be forced to set up shop at a small table on the brewhouse floor in the meantime. While I expect to fondly remember the early days of managing this brewery project from my little corner office and now the brewhouse floor, I surely won't miss the endless film of dust that a construction project breaths in and through every crack and crevice. There has been no refuge from that.
It has been amazing to see the brewhouse and tank farm take shape since it arrived last weekend. By last Sunday all vessels had been unloaded, raised and positioned on the brewery floors. Moving 3 and 4,000 lb. stainless tanks off of flat beds and raising them up for placement was tedious and often tense work, and I couldn't have done it without an awesome and experienced rigging crew. Nothing proved as daunting as the 12,000 lb. boiler that required a monster forklift and 3 hours of very slow and careful effort to move into the boiler room. That alone was worth a celebration party. I do still miss the ritual sampling of beer at the end of each of those work days. After that beautiful weekend weather, the cold that returned last Monday brought with it a work crew from B.C., Canada. Starting sharply at 7 every morning, Josh and Matt went to work unpacking an IKEA like kit of pipes, valves and pumps to piece the new brewhouse together. After a week with these two, I'm convinced Canadian lingo can't be over stereotyped, ay. While here, these two spent each evening out exploring all the top beer joints around town, and while they discovered many that impressed their thirst for quality beer, they found themselves drawn back at each night's end for another game of pool and fresh beer at their favorite local spot, Twains. By Friday when they left town, the brewhouse was assembled and ready for the rest of the installation which is underway now. Besides steam and glycol piping scheduled over the next few weeks, the framing of the packaging area and tasting room is progressing quickly. This previously empty warehouse is fast turning into a full scale production brewery. Standing amidst the new brewhouse vessels and towering stainless has been a surreal experience unlike any I can remember in my many years of work. To see a real life brewery smack in the middle of Decatur exhilarates me as a beer lover and homebrewer as much as it does as a new brewery owner. There is a lot still to accomplish if we are to ceremoniously remove the protective white film still covering the brew vessels and meet our maiden brew session in a month, but with the April arrival at Three Taverns of a special talent and with all hands on deck, I'm confident we can do it. Link over to facebook for new images from this past week. And as victorious as this week has felt for me, I'm reminded on this Palm Sunday morning how victory and celebration can suddenly turn to tragedy and despair. This reminder exhorts me not to put my confidence in the accomplishments of days past or presume upon the days ahead, but rather strive to find transcendent joy and contentment in experiences independent of my circumstances, good or bad. And the promise of Easter Sunday in a week strengthens me to know with certainty, that even the darkest of tragedies has a promised fairy tale ending. I'll raise my glass to that! Cheers from the brewery.
When a friend asked me yesterday what it felt like to finally see and take possession of my new brew system, the only way I could describe it was like the feeling of being a boy at Christmas time. Every step that has brought this dream closer to reality has had its own rewards, but the experience yesterday of washing the diesel smudge off my new born system and lifting the tanks upright on the brewhouse floor was the most magical of any of the experiences so far. Today holds more of that magic with the arrival of 9 stainless steel tanks to complete the cellar room. In fact, as I'm writing this post a call came in from the freight line telling me the driver was waiting at our bay door now. So I'm off to start another amazing day in this journey toward beerdom. I know there will be many more heights as I move closer to bringing my dream to market, and this weekend's emotions will eventually fade into the background of my memory and imaginations, but for now at least, this is a moment of sheer spectacle and delight. Time to head to the brewery.
There has been a steady rise in pressure over the past few days as we make final preperation for the arriving brewhouse and cellar equipment. On Monday 2 of the 3 trucks from Marks Metalworks were loaded with fermentation tanks and left for Decatur from the state of Washington. The last truck leaves today and by Saturday all tanks should be sitting on our brewhouse floor. So the next 2 days are climbing to a feverish pitch as we race to finish the build-out of the walls around the brewhouse vessels before we're forced to squeeze in between to do the work. Our floors are curing at the moment and will be ready tomorrow for heavy equipment. Which is a good thing after the rude awakening I received yesterday when finding out our one piece of used brewery equipment, our steam boiler, weighs in Friday at a wopping 12,000 lbs. Of all the equipment we'll be unloading and rigging over the weekend, the boiler is the most ominous. But, by this time next week the boiler will be installed and piped to the brewhouse with me climbing the next hurdle. Hurdles are the one constant in this project, as has been clearing them.
I've lived with many images in my mind since I started this quest to build a new production brewery in Georgia some 5 years ago now, but this picture of our 4 vessel brew system loaded up and ready to truck eastward and down south is one far more amazing than I ever imagined. It left British Columbia, Canada yesterday and is headed our way. The fermentation tanks leave WA on Monday, so grab that lawn chair and cooler of beer and look for a parade of trucks next weekend making their way to East Decatur Station where we've set up shop and will soon be making beer! I hope this pic puts a smile on your face half as big as mine. Cheers ya'll!
I woke this morning to an inbox full of stainless steel images from our friends in Vacouver, Washington. Our tanks for the brewery are nearly complete and being prepped for delivery on 3/16 from Marks Design & Metalworks. Marks is a relatively new company quickly establishing itself as one of the highest quality stainless tank manufacturers in the craft industry. That weekend will be very busy at Three Tavens as we first take receipt of our brewhouse from Newlands Systems in British Columbia on Friday 3/15 with the tanks arriving from Marks on Saturday 3/16. For those of you following our progress, I hope the air is as thick with anticipation this morning for you as it is for us. So very soon now the aroma of boiling hops and wort will enter the atmosphere from our little corner of Decatur over at 121 New St. Look for pics of our completed brewhouse and tank farm on facebook. Cheers!
Design philosopher Leonard Koren states, "Concrete is a noble experiment. Its development is one of humankind's greatest achievements." And while it might not be up there with the invention of fire, for me at least, Koren's words ring loud and true.Today our new concrete floors were poured and sloped toward our recently installed trench drains just in time to be finished before we take receipt of our shiny stainless on March 15th. When we took over the space at 121 New Street November 1 of last year, I never imagined we would need every last day for our floors to be ready to hold the weight of our new brewery and fermentation tanks. So leaving the brewery behind tonight with concrete setting quickly has me in a euphoric mood. I plan to imbibe with a good friend shortly at the Brick Store in celebration and praise of the noble experiment of concrete.
The plumbers went to work this week digging and plumbing the lines that will drain under the brewery floors. Most important for our ever tightening schedule is finishing the trench drains in the brewhouse and packaging area floors. As the drainage lines neared completion at the early part of the week, the sudden surprise that the model of drains we needed to complete the trenching were not available locally. This was not welcome news as the concrete work to pour and finish the floors is scheduled to start this weekend. And with the time required for the floors to cure and be ready to support the weight of the tanks arriving March 15th, we could ill afford another delay to the schedule. Fortunately, after the necessary pleading with the manufacturer to expedite our order, the drains arrived from Ohio yesterday and are ready to go underground this morning. Images of the work on facebook. By this time next week you can expect pics of our newly poured brewery floors!
Finally, exactly 168 days since we first submitted our application for licensing to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), we received notification from the Feds that we have been formally permitted and licensed for the production and sale of beer! The same day we also received word from the city of Decatur that our construction plans to continue build-out have been officially permitted. But this is simply another of the many steps ahead of us, so we continue our climb today by moving to the next application phase for state licensing and the next construction phase of plumbing the brewery. Still, after 24 weeks of waiting, yesterday enjoyed a deserved toast to celebrate another milestone in our journey toward beerdom.
A couple of weeks ago I sat down with Creative Loafing writer and local beer scribe Austin L. Ray (@autstinlouisray) at the brewery site and talked about my passion for Belgian beer and vision for building Three Taverns. After 4 hours of sampling and talking about things of beer and life, which always overlap, Austin left with a tape recorder full of my ramblings, a fact that won't surprise any of you who know me well. I wasn't sure exactly what he would sift out for his article, nor was I aware of his particular interest in our winter seasonal quadruple ale, Quasimodo. To see what high praise....and expectation Austin has for Three Taverns, link here http://tinyurl.com/b2peqef. I'm grateful for his affirmation of our beer and our distinct vision, but I'm most grateful for his recognition of the transendent and timeless value of patient, steady, and unwavering commitment to and execution of a clear and purposeful vision over a long period of time.