Monday, December 17, 2007

Brewing Equipment: Getting By

As a continuation of the last thread, Nicholas asked: "Right now I'm looking for info on prices for new/used equipment so I can price out potential setups. I can find books upon books about beer, but nothing on equipment. Also, I'm a little spotty on what equipment/tanks do what and how many are necessary as a bare minimum, but I can't find any such reference."

For finding used equipment, I'd stay away from books as numbers will be outdated. Stainless steel prices change all the time, and used equipment isn't immune from stainless steel commodity prices. Instead, contact Brewing Equipment dealers such as Ian Day at North American Brewing Services, Vince Cottone at Sound Brewing Systems, or Jason Ager at Ager Tank & Equipment. Last year around this time I was looking for a used system and was finding it difficult to make an offer on one as they were usually sold within a few days of being offered for sale. I doubt that's the climate today with malt and hop shortages. Also, check ProBrewer Classified Forums. Sometimes used systems are listed on the Brewers Association Forum, but you'll have to sign up to the Brewers Association as a Brewery in Planning (around $300) to get on the list, plus you get a subscription for New Brewer magazine and get a better rate for the Great American Beer Festival and Craft Brewers Conference. Speaking of the Craft Brewers Conference, it's coming up this April in San Diego, and I'd recommend any prospective brewery startup to attend the seminars and get to know your suppliers.

The cost of brewing systems vary widely based on brew length (how much wort is being made at a time), how many vessels, what's included (pumps, hard piping, heat exchanger, etc.), steam or direct fire, whether the steam boiler (for a steam powered system), fermenters and a glycol chiller are included, and so on. For a 2-3 vessel 15-20 bbl system with everything you need, plus an acceptable amount of fermentation/cellar capacity (let's say 60-90 BBL's worth) will run around $150,000 - $200,000. A new system with everything you need will run around $300,000 from the value conscious suppliers. I'm sure there are better deals to be had, but this is just a general number you could expect.

The lowest amount you could expect with everything you need would be $50,000 for a bare bones 2 vessel system of 5 BBL or less. You can expect to use hose to connect your vessels during brewing, and you probably wouldn't need to spend too much on malt handling (augers, large mill, etc.) for this size of system. I wouldn't recommend a system under 15 BBL as you'll find making a profit in this industry is not easy. Having to brew 5 times a week on a 4 BBL system is a lot less efficient use of your time than brewing once on a 20 BBL system.  If that's all that can be afforded, and it's just a starter system, then it might work for you.  Just don't expect to make any money, and prepare to lose a bunch.

You could spend less on a single vessel malt extract kettle, but I'd stay away if your goal is to make great beer. If you're looking to spend less than $50,000 on equipment, I'd consider mead making as you'll only need a boil kettle and fermentation space.  Plus, mead is increasing in popularity and there are very few commercial mead makers today.

As for what the vessels are used for-- I'd recommend getting into homebrewing and visiting breweries! I'll give a basic overview from what you need from the beginning of a brew to the end:

Malt-- You'll need a way to crush the malt, unless you intend to buy pre-milled malt. A 2 roller mill is what is used for a smaller system (under 30 BBL). You want to size the mill so you can mill enough malt to dough in within 30-45 minutes. If your batches used 2000 lbs. of malt, you'd want to get a mill that could handle 3000-4000 lbs. of malt per hour, or get a grist case to receive and hold milled malt prior to mashing.

Water-- At a minimum, you'd have an activated carbon filter to remove chlorine, organic compounds, and some hardness from your water.

Mash tun / lauter tun-- The mash tun is used for mixing malt and hot water in order to aid in conversion of starch (in malt) to sugars through the use of naturally occurring enzymes contained in the malt. Brewers yeast mainly metabolizes simple sugar, so this is why the conversion of starch to sugar is critical in brewing. The lauter tun is a vessel for separating the solid malt particles from the liquid wort. Smaller systems have a combined mash tun / lauter tun, meaning the same vessel is used for starch conversion and for drawing the wort from the grain.

Boil kettle-- Once the wort is drawn off from the lauter tun, it is brought to a boil. Hops are added at different intervals in the boil for bitterness, aroma, and flavor. If you had a malt extract system, you would skip to this step. You'd add malt syrup or malt powder to filtered water, mix, bring to a boil, and add hops as usual. There are even no-boil extract systems where the extract is already hopped, but expect the beer to be pretty nasty. A typical boil is 60-90 minutes.

Whirlpool-- Some systems have a dedicated whirlpool, which is used for recirculating the hot wort in a centrifugal fashion, bringing the hop / protein solids to the middle of the vessel for easy separation of the liquid. Most systems just include a whirlpool port on the kettle to perform this function in one vessel. The advantage of having a separate vessel is when brewing multiple batches at a time, you can get the first batch out of the kettle and begin lautering / boiling your second batch. This would shave 1 to 2 hours from the total brew day if brewing two batches that day.

Heat Exchanger-- For sanitary and flavor purposes, you need to bring the wort down to 50-70 degrees fairly quickly once the boil is finished. A stainless steel plate heat exchanger is typically used. Cold water runs through one side, while the hot wort is pumped through the other side, resulting in a cooled wort once it makes its way through the heat exchanger. This is directly pumped into a fermenter.

Fermentation-- Typically cone shaped fermenters (cylindroconical) are used for fermentation, as their height takes up less of your valuable real estate, and the cone shape aids in yeast collection and trub dumping.  This is where the yeast is added, and the yeast converts most of the sugars in the wort into carbon dioxide and alcohol.  Fermenters should have jackets for running chilled glycol in order to control fermentation temperature.  Alternatively, you could have a temperature controlled room for regulating fermentation temperatures, but it'll be less precise and result in a higher electricity bill.

Cellar-- Once fermentation has ended, typically you'd have a brite beer tank for beer maturation, cooling, and carbonation addition. Beer is packaged (into kegs / bottles / cans) from this vessel.

Bottling / Kegging / Canning-- My numbers above didn't include this part of the brewing process. Kegging is usually the least expensive option, especially at the beginning when you don't need many kegs on hand. Bottling and canning lines can be very expensive. If you're looking to make a bottle conditioned beer, you can spend a lot less because your equipment doesn't have to deal with carbonated beer and reducing oxygen pickup is less of an issue. Of course, you could also use homebrew equipment for the bottling of carbonated beer, but don't expect to pay the bills by packaging that way (it's very slow).

I hope this info will help Nick and others!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Infrastructure Details

Nicholas posted a comment in my last post that I thought was a great question, and possibly where this blog could be most valuable to future brewery owners. His question: "Where did you find out about all the requirement equipment, gas lines, water lines, etc. Can you point me to any books, articles, etc.?"

When you are looking for a place to lease/buy, make sure the utilities are there. Gas, 3 phase electric with sufficient amperage, decent water pipe size/pressure, and an easily accessible sewer line should be requirements. Avoid historical buildings because while they are neat and interesting, you may have additional hurdles and increased costs to deal with associated with historical preservation. Also, one of the more important things to watch out for is sufficient ceiling height (at least 14' high).

When you've found a space, your best resource is a good architect and a brewing consultant. Architects should be aware of all building code issues you'll encounter, and probably know what you need to operate a brewery. A brewing consultant can advise you to size your utilities correctly so your brewery will work efficiently. You'll save a lot of money if your landlord can give you "as built" plans of your space. Otherwise, the architect will have to survey the space and draw plans from scratch, which can be very expensive. Contractors / subcontractors should also be aware of code requirements.

For a frame of reference, I didn't hire an architect, and I didn't use a brewing consultant as much as I should have. I researched many of the things I needed myself by looking at other breweries and talking with other brewery owners about what they did and what they wished they did. My contractor and his subcontractors have been a huge help in my selection on materials. Typically, you don't want to rely on your contractor and the subs, as this will cause deviations from the plan and you'll run into "Change Orders", meaning additional costs and the possibility of the contractor taking advantage of you. Luckily my contractor is an honest guy so I haven't had any problems with my change orders yet. Anyway, I've learned a lot in the process of figuring out things myself, but as you'll see I've made mistakes that I'll have to live with.

Here's a list of the utilities you need, and the sizing considerations:

Water-- One of the most critical resources is a decent flow of water. A 1" line at 60-80 PSI would be great for a small brewery. Mine is 3/4" at 75 PSI, which is decent but the building only has 3/4" at the connection. It's pretty pricy to upgrade a water line to a larger size, so try to find a place with a large water line at the outset. My plumbers have run 3/4" copper pipe to the brewing areas for water connections. Also, something obvious but important-- the longer the run of pipe (of the same diameter), the less pressure you'll have. This applies to natural gas as well.

Gas-- Finding a building with a natural gas connection is essential, unless you want to start a brewery out in the middle of nowhere and all that's available is low pressure propane. The gas company is great about changing out the gas connection to your required size, so if the connection isn't sufficient, don't worry too much about it. Just make sure you're able to increase the gas line size on your end. I went with a 3" line, which is huge and probably overkill. For the equipment I currently have, I need around 2,000,000 BTU's. My gas line run is around 80 feet. A 3" line at 80 feet can deliver around 3,705,000 BTU's. If I ever want to add a larger kettle or more in-line water heaters, I have an extra 1,705,000 BTU's with my current gas line. The gas company is only giving me enough pressure at this point for 2,000,000 BTU's and will upgrade their end once I need more pressure.

Sewer-- It's important to check the depth of the sewer before leasing or buying a place, as this is something that is very expensive to change, if it's possible at all. I didn't check the depth of my sewer before signing a lease. Once I found out my sewer line was 17" below the ground, it was too late. I changed the configuration of where everything was to be placed to accommodate the short run to the sewer. There's a few ways to mitigate this problem if you come across it. The easiest is to upsize the sewer line you'll be installing for the floor drains. We went with a 4" line instead of a 3" line, which by code can have a lower slope to the main sewer. You can also pour concrete to raise the area to be drained, but this will cut into the ceiling height, which was a problem for me. The third option is using a sump pump for drainage. This can get pricy, and pumps aren't always reliable. If the pump fails, you'll be living in your own sewage until it gets fixed. Pneumatic pumps are the best option here as they are more reliable and if the power goes out, your air compressor tank will still have some air left in it. Also, if you're looking to start a brewery in a rural area, avoid septic systems at all costs. Waste water treatment for a small brewery is cost prohibitive, and without adequate waste treatment, you'll have to be very careful with what goes down the drain.

Concrete-- Most industrial / commercial buildings have 4-6" of concrete. The city will likely require a structural engineer to draw up plans for how these are going to be anchored, as well as calculations which support their recommendation. I found that my 15 BBL tanks could stay on the existing concrete slab and be anchored to it, but most of the brewhouse tanks as well as my 30 BBL tanks are too heavy and would have to be supported by separately poured footings. I decided to demo all of the concrete in the brewing area and pour a 12" slab. This allowed me to add floors sloped toward the drain, and the ability to add tanks in the future without pouring any new concrete. I also have 12" curbs that were poured monolithically (all as one piece), which have greater strength than curbs poured on top of an existing concrete slab that are simply anchored to the floor. I went with 3000 PSI concrete, which is fairly high strength and not that much more expensive than the standard 2500 PSI concrete.

Electricity-- The sizing all depends on the size of the operation, but my recommendation is at least 200 amps of 3 phase electricity. I leased the space thinking I had 200 amps of 3 phase, but it turned out I had 175 amps of single phase electricity. I had to add the 200 amp / 3 phase panel, and luckily I'll be able to keep the existing single phase electricity as well. I wish I had 400 amps of 3 phase, so I'd recommend that to you too. My glycol chiller requires 60 amps of 3 phase power by itself. When I'm in the middle of brewing and many other devices are also running, I'll be close to pulling all 200 amps at once.

Roof Weight Capacity or Side Yard-- You'll need a place to put your glycol chiller, and most of them emit a lot of heat (unless they are liquid cooled), so outside is the best place for them. Mine is going on the roof, and by the size of the platform my contractor is putting on the roof (3' x 18') I'm learning the roof can't handle too much weight. Make sure your city / landlord allows large machinery on the roof. If you're in an industrial area, there's a good chance there won't be a problem. If I had a locked side yard, I would have put the glycol chiller there, along with a malt silo and whatever I don't need to store indoors.

Venting-- I've had to make quite a few roof penetrations to vent all of the equipment I'm putting in. I have three water heaters, all with their own vent. My kettle needs 2 vents-- one for steam, one for combustion exhaust. If you choose a building with multiple stories, you will either have a long draw vent or a vent from the side of the building (both of which will probably require exhaust fans). Keep in mind your neighbors might be taking in air from the same area you are venting to, so plan carefully if you aren't venting straight to the roof. I'm in a single story building, so my vents are relatively short and don't need fans.

HVAC-- This is a big issue I haven't addressed yet. The Health Department has required that I keep the doors closed at all times, so when I'm brewing on a 100 degree day, I can't open the place up to get a breeze through. I don't have enough power (or money) to add a huge air conditioning unit, so we'll probably be brewing early in the morning to avoid the hottest times of the day. I'll likely add intake fans to bring in filtered outside air in a few months as summer approaches, but I'm not giving this too much attention until it becomes a problem. I'm thinking of inventing glycol cooled clothing, but I have too much on my plate right now to get into that. If someone wants to run with that idea, feel free to do so! I'll be your first customer! Maybe I'll just buy these:

This is all I can think of for the moment. If anyone wants to read it, I could prepare something similar for how I've chosen my brewing equipment.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Just a Few More Weeks...

Sorry for not posting lately, but seeing that Rachel and Tyler have been doing a great job with their posts in my absence, why change a good thing? Well, because Rachel might not be posting for a few weeks. On Wednesday, she underwent emergency surgery due to an infected cyst on her tailbone that flared up in the past week. She is doing much better now, but it'll take some time before everything is back to normal. Her Mom and Barley have been taking very good care of her, and I'm trying to do my part and make sure everything at The Bruery is still getting accomplished.

Construction has been coming along nicely, and we're thinking completion should be in the next few weeks. The gas line, water lines, water heaters, etc. have been installed, power will finally be turned on this Tuesday, everything has been painted, and most of the equipment has been set in place. The few key things that remain are to have the glycol chiller placed on the roof, the glycol plumbing installed, Gas Company installation of a new meter and gas manifold, sealing the floors, some electrical work, welding, and the kettle flame system. Most of these items will be completed before New Years. I still need to order malt and yeast for the first few batches as well. Mid-January for the first batch seems like my best guess at this point.

I'm very happy I hired Tyler when I did-- he's been a huge asset in getting things to where they need to be so we can start brewing. My guess is it would have taken an extra month if I was doing all of this by myself.

On Monday I'll post some pictures of the progress.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

My First Week

This is my first blog ever, so please go easy on me if it’s not that interesting. My last day at Bj’s was December 1st and it was surreal. I have been working there for so long and with so many great people that it had become a second home; leaving it couldn’t help but make me feel sad. I got over that pretty quickly. I know that Patrick is going to provide a great work environment that will allow me to continually learn about this great “hobby” that we call brewing. I feel that there is so much to learn about brewing that you always have to keep an open ear and mind to be able to brew great beer. The day that you think you know everything is the day that you fail as a brewer; it is our job, along with the home-brewing community, to continually expand beer as we know it.

My first day at The Bruery was definitely not what I’m used to; instead of doing laboratory work, racking, and etc… I was ordering safety and brewing equipment. Equipment that I have always taken for granted as just being in a brewery. We started putting the brew house in place Wednesday morning. I thought that we would easily place the brew house and fermenters in no time, I couldn’t have been more wrong. We placed the mash/lauter tun first, which should’ve have been an easy task but once it was in its place, it had to spin 90°. I don’t know if we picked the best or safest way to do this but let’s just say at one point I was trying to balance and spin it while it was floating in the air. We lubed up cardboard and set the mash tun on them so we could turn the mash tun ourselves; I wish someone was there to record it, what were we thinking! After we finished with the mash tun, we were able to place the boil kettle; having learned from the mash tun, we decided to attack the kettle like a crane would (I wish we had one.) It took about an hour to come up with a safe rigging to lift and transport the kettle over a foot high curb and it worked beyond my expectations! We placed the kettle inside the brewing area with almost no problems at all, if only the roof could have been 3 feet taller. Once inside the brewing area, we had to spin the kettle so the man-way would be facing our brewing platform. We re-did the rigging so it would hang from one central point allowing Patrick and I to physically spin the kettle while hanging from the forklift (if only we could’ve done that with the mash tun). We went on to move the whirlpool and cold liquor tank in place with almost no effort at all and by then the day had already ended.

What I thought would take only a few hours, ended up taking a full day. I know now why most breweries use a crane to move brewing vessels, size being one of them, but mostly because a forklift, a curb, and a ceiling make things very difficult to place the equipment where you envision it.

Friday, December 7, 2007

Big Love- Bruery Edition

Hey Guys, it's Rachel here. I just realized my last post was about 4 months ago. I decided to write to dispel the rumor that Pat tried to sell me on the streets to get more capital. However, it was definitely talked about.

I am writing to announce that Patrick and I have become polygamists- our second wife being The Bruery. She has recently tried aggressively to take over my position as first wife- demanding more and more of my husband's time and energy. First she was constantly complaining that she didn't get a ring, so Patrick insisted on buying her all this stainless brewing equipment to appease her, which is WAY more than any diamond. Then she was upset that we didn't take her on the honeymoon to GABF this fall, even though we wore her name on our t-shirts. Things escalated more and more, and her demands for a makeover were unrelenting. Pat finally gave in and agreed to give her a whole new look from the ground up, complete with a full staff. Man- he gets mad at me for getting my hair cut!!!

He has spent the last week at around 12 hours a day in her company. Even our dates on the weekend involve checking in on her. He has informed me that it will most likely remain that way for the rest of the month, and probably more so when he can actually start using her. My special qualities are overshadowed by her shininess- literally. I brought him lunch when he was with HER yesterday and I swear she just glared at me and showed off her new colors. And do you even know how many times Patrick has asked me "Why can't you be more like The Bruery?" As I see it, the only advantage is that since she is younger, she can be the one to have the babies- i don't think it would be so bad to push a child out of a mash tun. Bad picture there- sorry.

Our bruery dog Barley would like to be the 3rd wife, which is a possibility now that his two mounds of manliness have been removed. However, he refuses to sign the prenuptial agreement so things are at a stand still.

There is a lesson to this story- if you are going to consider polygamy, especially if it is with a brewery, make sure the wives will get along. Luckily I am in love with The Bruery, and fully support all that my husband does for her. Although if you ask me that again on x-mas morning- after the presents are opened and I have seen what she gets, you may get a different response.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

San Diego Strong Ale Fest

Nevermind the last post... They aren't done yet (it is 7:45 now). I spent the weekend at the festival and met lots of good people. I was surprised by the amount of people I didn't know personally who read this blog. I felt pretty good about that. It rained quite a bit the first night, but the true stong ale lovers seemed to manage in the wetness. Anyway, was a fun weekend serving other breweries beer and talking about my own. Thanks to my beautiful wife Rachel for letting me go. She hasn't seen much of me lately, and I fear that will be the case for the next month. Poor Rachel and Barley! Time to go back to asking WTF they are going to leave so I can go home, eat dinner, and sleep.

Posting From a Dark Spot in the Warehouse

Here's a different post. Not for the purpose of information or entertainment, but simply because I don't feel like doing anything else.

I'm sitting here, listening to the drywall guys chat and giggle in a language I can't understand (add to the to-do list: learn Spanish), and I'm thinking "When the hell are they going to be done so I can go home?" They framed the 'vestibule' last week. The vestibule is the box-like wall around my cargo door, designed to keep the vermin away. Now they are applying tape and some sort of paste to the joints of the drywall. They worked on this yesterday and they planned to finish up the job then. At 6 PM I decided I needed to go home since I had been at the brewery for 12 hours that day, and about 10 minutes later the circuit breaker blows at my neighbors (who are graciously providing a electrical cord for me so I have power), so they went home. That's why I'm hanging around until they finish-- because I really want them to finish.

Tyler started work on Monday. I didn't have too much work to give him as there's no equipment to setup until the flooring is in place. He took the initiative to order safety equipment from a catalog he had ordered the week before. We went to lunch at Hollingshead's, made a few friends with folks interested in "What the hell is 'The Bruery'?", and tried out some beers for the tasting tomorrow night. Tyler had school today, but has a nice full day ahead of him with moving the equipment to the brewing area. He promised he would post to the blog for the first time discussing equipment installation.

Speaking of the winter beer tasting at Hollingshead's, tomorrow's the night. Tickets have been sold out for awhile. I'll be speaking about all of the beers being poured except for Sam Adams Winter Lager, which will be presented by the local Sam Adams rep. A Chapman Grad student in the Food Sciences program will also be talking about the hops used in Belgian beers. Should be a good night, and I should really think about what I'm going to say!

Back to The Bruery, things are coming along quickly, and I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The next three weeks will be crazy busy, but I need to get open and make some beer so it's worth it.

Hell yes, the drywall guys just finished up, and now I can go home. Only 11.5 hours spent here today.

Is this the flooring used in slaughterhouses?

My beautiful (but very red) Stonhard flooring was completed today.
Tomorrow the equipment setup starts. Finally!!!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New Logo / Art Direction

You probably noticed a slightly different look to the blog-- there's actually a logo on the page. My older brother Casey designed the original logo, and Randy Mosher took it in a slightly different direction. I like both of them, but I've been told the new one is a bit friendlier. The shape of the shield it is in front of is a silhouette of the label design for one of our labels. I put the two together, so don't blame Randy if nothing is centered and it looks like crap.

By the way, I just wanted to thank Randy publicly on his great work with my labels and branding. Randy is a very talented artist who understands the craft brewing industry very well, and I hear his homebrew isn't half bad either.

Framing Complete And Lots of Other Stuff

Yet another milestone (there will be lots of those coming in the next few weeks)-- the vestibule has been framed, the city inspected it a few hours ago, and dry wall is going in today.

The plumbers are currently installing the copper piping for my sink area, and this area will be drywalled at the same time as the vestibule.

Tomorrow insulation will be replaced for half of the warehouse. They'll have to come out twice because the other side of the warehouse is packed with brewing equipment and bottles, so once the equipment is put into its final spot, I'll move all of the bottles outside and they will finish the insulation for the rest of the space.

This Monday and perhaps Tuesday the Stonhard urethane (UT) flooring is going in. Once it is in, I'll be able to start putting tanks where they belong and start connecting everything.

Another exciting event on Monday-- Tyler begins working for The Bruery. He will be much needed in setting up the brewing equipment and getting miscellaneous tasks done before Christmas so we can get our first batch brewed on January 2nd. There's a lot of things to do, and one minor omission could hold up the first batches by a few weeks, so Tyler will be of great help in getting things done. He appears to be excited about doing whatever it takes to get the doors open, so I know he will be a pleasure to work with.

Speaking of brewing our first batch on January 2nd, that leaves only 34 days to finish everything up. In reality, I only have 22 days to get everything done and pass inspections as after Dec. 21st, nothing will get done. The City is closed from Dec. 22nd until January 2nd, and I imagine the OC health department has a similar schedule. Did I say January 2nd we'd brew the first batch?

Wish me luck!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Mashtun has legs

Since my last cell phone blog entry worked so well, I'll continue to
post this way until I have something meaningful to say. Todd, my
stainless welder came over this morning and attached legs to the
mashtun. Its very tall (about 10'3").

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Concrete finished

The concrete work was successfully completed. I sprayed the whole
area down and the sloped floors worked like a champ!

I'm posting this from my phone (testing out "mobile blogging"), so
l'll be brief. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Concrete Going In

Fifty to sixty cubic yards of concrete are going in as I write this and it's exciting as hell. The concrete and sewer are the most time intensive parts of the construction process, so things should be progressing nicely after this. Brewing equipment installation is scheduled for December 5th, the day after the Stonhard flooring is put in. Back to take more pictures and watch more concrete get poured.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Not Just a One Man Show Anymore

Over the past few months, a lot of things have happened while setting up this brewery, but two in particular have greatly changed my approach of running the business. The first is I've realized I can't do everything myself. I can't be the only person making the beer, maintaining the brewery, selling the beer, delivering the beer, promoting the beer, and so on if The Bruery is going to be successful. The second thing is I've had the opportunity to get to know a talented brewer at a time when he's ready for the next step in his brewing career. A few months ago, Tyler King told me he wanted to work at The Bruery from the very beginning, and he'd do it for free (don't worry EEOC, he'll be getting paid). Tyler wants to have the experience of being at a brewery from the ground up, and I need his help and expertise, so it was a match.

Tyler has been brewing with BJ's for around 5 years and is particularly skilled in yeast culturing and quality assurance / lab analysis. He is a great homebrewer as well, and is interested in brewing with wild yeast and souring organisms which will be right up our alley. If you stop by the brewery relatively soon, you can try his excellent Flemish Red on tap. He will be graduating from Cal State Fullerton in the Spring, and his last academic hurdle will be completing an internship in Marketing/Advertising at The Bruery. He'll be in charge of marketing our summer seasonal. Tyler and I will share in the brewing responsibilities, and at the beginning when our brewing schedule isn't too demanding, he will be working on sales as well.

Cheers to Tyler-- I'm looking forward to working with you.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Construction: Concrete Demo Completed, Plumbing Started

Things are moving right along here. All of the concrete demolition is finished, and the plumbers are now laying out underground sewer lines for sinks and the trench drain in the brewing area. Here's a few pictures of the concrete demo:

Monday, November 5, 2007

Construction Has Begun

Ahhhh, finally!  On Friday the concrete floor was cut in the perimeter of where it will be removed, and today the jackhammers come out and the floor (plus a foot of dirt) will be taken out.  There's a pretty decently sized tractor parked in front of The Bruery, so it shouldn't take too long.  After that, the rebar will be added to reinforce the concrete, the plumbing will be placed, and the floor will be poured back with a 1 foot high x 6 inch wide curb and sloped.  All of the plumbing and rebar will be put in this week, and it looks like pouring back the concrete will be happening next week.

I recently found out that the concrete will need to cure for at least 14 days (probably more like 21 days) until the Stonhard Polyurethane mortar flooring system can go in.  I was hoping to start placing the tanks a week or two after the concrete went in, but that's not the case.

Construction and equipment setup should be finished just before Christmas time, so I'm hoping to get the first batches in the fermenter before the new year.  If that happens, it'll be late January / early February before we open the doors.

I'll make sure to post timely pictures of the process.

Pictures I Should Have Posted But Now It's Too Late

I was looking through my iPhoto collection (I'm a Mac guy) and saw a bunch of pictures I meant to publish here over the last month, but never got around to it.

The tap room at Great Divide Brewery in Denver

A view of Great Divides' brewhouse from the tap room

Flying Dog Brewery in Denver

Oak foundres for aging of La Folie and other funky New Belgium beers. Anyone know where I can find one or two of these?

Rachel in front of Brewhouse #2 at New Belgium in Ft. Collins

The new bottling line at New Belgium.  This shot is really bad, but this place was amazing.  The line is fully automated, a full pallet of beer is packed every 2-3 minutes.  Definitely the pride and joy for the people at New Belgium.

On top of New Belgium's fermenters. It is pretty freakin high up here.

Rachel stayed on the smaller fermenters. I didn't blame her, but I had to man up and keep going.

New Belgium's offices / tasting room

Rachel at the GABF hall before the action started for the day.

A crappy shot of Logan's pre-GABF party.  This was a lot of fun, a huge variety of rare beers and some crazy art placed throughout the party

A few days after we got home, the fire started.  It got a few hundred yards from our house (this photo taken from our home), but luckily it didn't get past the fire station on Portola. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Flip Flops Don't Work in Breweries

I should really know better. I was dragging around this awkwardly shaped rusty mild steel handrails around the brewery to send them to the scrap dealer and I was wearing my flip flops (i.e. thongs). I always wear flip flops because I don't like wearing socks, and it's part of the liberation I get to experience as a brewer. I get to wear flip flops and walk around my brewery and dress like a bum because I can. Anyway, a sharp edge of this rusty piece of crap came across my foot, causing a good deal of blood loss. Actually, it wasn't that bad, but I'll be wearing shoes from here on out. I have a doctors appointment tomorrow to get a tetanus booster shot. I'm not a big fan of shots, but it's better than lockjaw.

I hope this image doesn't show up on a foot fetish website (at least without me getting royalties).

Monday, October 29, 2007

Construction About to Start

Good things have been happening, but I was hoping to have a picture of a pile of concrete to show you by now. The good news is I picked a new contractor after receiving five bids, and I know he's going to do an outstanding job. The plumber is coming by today to lay out the area, and I'm hoping we can get the concrete work started this week.

This is probably a bit on the dry side, and in fact I get a headache when writing about it. Read it if you care, otherwise I'll try to come up with something a bit more entertaining for the next post.

The concrete work entails cutting out around 1100 square feet of concrete in the brewing area and in the sewer line area, removing a foot of soil, placing a 35 foot trench drain, and pouring a foot of sloped, reinforced concrete, along with a 1 foot curb which will act as a containment area (a city requirement). The area where the sewer line is going will be filled in, and then I'll wait 7 to 10 days for the concrete to cure before the urethane flooring can go in. Once the urethane goes in, I can put my tanks where they need to go, and start setting up equipment. The plumber can then install the water and gas to the brewing area (and the four sinks), my welder can get to work on piping together the brewhouse, the electrician can hook up my equipment, and the burner technician can piece together the combustion system for my boil kettle.

While all of this is going on, drywall is going up to form a vestibule around one of my cargo loading doors (a health department requirement), the office will have wood flooring installed, a glycol chiller / structural platform will be built on the roof, every wall will be painted, and all concrete will be sealed. A few miscellaneous items like hooking up a few augers, getting city and health department inspections, and dealing with my own sanity will be involved as well.

Exciting stuff, and I pray to God it all gets done quickly. You and I have been waiting far too long!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Just Checking In

Sorry for the lack of posts lately-- I just got back in town, and have a pile of work to get caught up on. I spent 5 days in Denver at the Great American Beer Festival and checking out nearby breweries (Great Divide, Flying Dog, New Belgium), and had the chance to meet with new and old friends. Rachel enjoyed it as well, but I could tell she's not used to devoting several days to beer.

Then we went off to Manhattan from Saturday til yesterday (Wednesday) to meet up with my parents and my brother and his fiancee. We had great time there. I did visit a few beer bars in the area-- CB Six and Blind Tiger Ale House. My Dad and I went to Spuyten Duyvil to learn they did not open until 5, but did make some very nice purchases at their 'grocery store' (a closet sized store with loads of great, rare beers). Earlier in the day we met with Garrett Oliver, the brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery, who gave us a private tour and answered all of our questions, most of which were about Local 1, a Belgian-style, bottle conditioned beer they are artfully producing there. Garrett is a great, smart guy, and I thank him for taking the time to show us around.

Next time I'll post some pictures of the tour of New Belgium (incredible place!) and include a bit more about the GABF, but for now it's back to work!

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

More Guessing About Launch Dates

Alright already, I should probably not throw out any more opening dates. I don't know what it is with brewery startups-- we have a compulsion to announce dates that in our limited experience seem plausible. Maybe it's a case that if we announce it and believe it, it will actually come true? I'll try to explain what happened, and hopefully you'll understand why you aren't drinking a Saison Rue right now.

On May 22nd, when I initially leased 715 Dunn, I proclaimed The Bruery would start brewing in August and start selling in September. Early on I had an architect that was going to put together the plans, but then shortly after I decided I could draw up the plans on my own and save $5,000 - $10,000 in the process. Strike one. Architects know what they are doing, and I don't. I think I would have saved two months if the architect drew up the plans. What does two months of rent and lost opportunity cost? Probably more than an architect.

On June 27th, I thought I'd be ready to start construction. My plans were put together (or at least I thought they were), and I was ready to get a bid from a contractor I already picked out. Getting just one bid? Strike two.

After I got the bid (or more accurately an estimate because the contractor had no idea how to price out my less than detailed plans), I figured I could get my plans approved by the city over the counter and start construction. I learned the city won't accept the plans until they are approved by the Health Department. Better get my plans into the Health Department, no big deal. Health Department approval is only a formality, as they don't care about breweries-- right? Wrong! Health Department approval takes about 2 months due to my need to negotiate to lessen what they required of me. Strike three (thankfully, this isn't baseball). I learned that you don't negotiate with the health department, at least if you want to get your plans approved. They did make some concessions which will save a bit of money and time, but overall I would be in a better position had I went with the flow.

I finally get my plans approved by the city on September 20th (which takes two weeks, and is not done over the counter), and I'm finally ready to start construction. I eagerly call my contractor, leave a message. Call an hour later, leave another message. Repeat for two days. Finally get a hold of him, and he says how busy he is, and how he'll call me right back. That was two weeks ago, and still no word from him. I've learned enough by now that I probably wouldn't be getting a call back from him, so then I called several contractors for bids.

For the last two weeks, I've been dealing with general contractors and subcontractors in their bidding process. Today, I'm waiting on several bids. I should have all of them by the end of this week, or more accurately, the bids I'll be considering will be in by Friday.

So what needs to happen before The Bruery can open? Construction needs to start. If I pick a general contractor this week, there's a chance they could start next week, but more likely it'll be the following week. Construction will take a minimum of four weeks. The Health Department needs to inspect, and will probably have some changes they'd like to see. Add two weeks. The City needs to inspect, and perhaps there's another change that needs to happen. Add another week. During this time after construction, equipment is installed. Most of the equipment installation will be fairly straight forward, except for the kettle burner system. I can't do much with the direct fire burner system until the kettle is in its proper place, so I'm not sure how long that will take. Let's just say my best guess at this time is it'll be another 8-10 weeks before I can brew the first batch, which would bring me into the first week of December. If that comes true, I think a New Year's Day grand opening party is called for. 2008 is my year!

I've learned a lot going through this, and gained some grey hair and a few inches in the waistline as a result. This is a blog about my experience opening a brewery, so I should state what I would have done differently if I had to go through this experience again. If I could go back in time to May 22nd, I would have done the following:

- Hired an electrician to confirm I had three phase power before I signed the lease.
- Hired a plumber to confirm the sewer depth before I signed the lease.
- Hired an architect to draw up the plans
- Received multiple bids from contractors
- Submitted my plans to the Health Department ASAP even if the plans were not as complete as they should be
- Make the changes the Health Department required without debate
- Overestimate how long things actually take
- Remember that each day I am not open costs $134 in rent ($5.58 an hour!), and much more in lost opportunity. Hiring out is often the less expensive option when you don't have the experience or time to complete that task
- Give a moment to celebrate each achievement, and then move on to the next item on the list
- Don't blame myself or others when it isn't productive

This list could go on, and I'll probably add to it when I learn of other things I should have done and should be doing. I hope this is useful to those of you who share the same dream of opening and running a brewery. It's therapeutic for me to write this and get a better sense for myself of why it is October 3rd and I haven't started construction yet. As for other advice I need to give myself, do as much as you can every day, and remember that everything has a lead time, no matter how small the task seems to be. When the opening of a business is dependent on many things outside of your control, and those with control don't have an incentive to be expedient, don't estimate on how long they will take, and more importantly don't take guesses on when the business will be open. Don't be hard on yourself when your guesses don't come true-- you're doing the best you can.

Thanks for reading this blog and for supporting my dream of running a brewery.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Writing Mission Statements

Mission and vision statements are an important part of any business, especially in the first few years of a new business. What is the purpose of this business? Who does the business serve? What expectations are there for the future of this business? If there aren't clear answers to these questions, it is unclear what steps to take to produce a successful result.

I'm sitting here at The Bruery in a dim office, looking at a few hundred ants on a nearby table. I made the mistake of leaving a wrapper on the table yesterday, and a civilization is now able to eat because of me. I kill a few just for the fun of it (where did I put my lighter?), and I'm frustrated. Don't take it out on ants, Pat. On the desk behind me, there are a dozen sheets of notepaper, with scribbles and barely legible writing about goals and purposes. I'm trying to come up with a one sentence mission statement that says it all. I don't want to include any semi-colons or too many commas. I want it to be short, sweet, and say everything that I want the brewery to be with some specificity. Impossible? I think so.

It's an odd time to be coming up with this. The Bruery consists of me and a bunch of equipment that is non-functional. There are lots of ideas, of course. I'm trying to get construction started so I can get on with my life and start making beer. When I'm trying to come up with a mission statement, I'm thinking of a bustling brewery with many bright workers, thousands of loyal customers, and a clear sense of what The Bruery is. At this moment, nothing is clear, not even my eyeglasses. I can't remember the last time I cleaned those.

My Dad and I meet on a weekly basis. He is my advisor and business coach, and has a great deal of knowledge on how to run a company and come up with goals and strategies. He gave me the assignment of coming up with a single sentence that describes why I'm doing what I'm doing. There are so many reasons-- I hate the law (not the law itself, just advising others on it), I love making beer, drinking beer, and being in the company of people who share a similar interest in beer. I want to be in a craft-related business-- making something for the enjoyment of others. Sure, I want to make money too, but that's not why I chose to be in the beer business. I want to share beer with others, and I want The Bruery to have an impact on the beer industry as a whole. I'd like to be the cause for many to experience a new side of beer-- a paradigm shift that makes someone realize that beer is so much more complex, interesting, and enjoyable than what they had previously believed.

The best thing I can come up with is pretty vague, but I think it makes more sense when I explain the different parts:

"The mission of The Bruery is to enjoy crafting unique beer for the enjoyment of our supporters."

To address each part of the mission statement-- "To enjoy crafting...": I want to get out of bed every morning and be excited to run The Bruery. Whether it's making beer, selling beer, or managing the business, I'm doing it because I enjoy it. If I don't enjoy it, then I'll need to find out why and correct it. I think making money is addressed in this section of the vision statement, as I probably won't be enjoying what I'm doing unless I'm able to make a living doing it. Likewise, I want those who work at The Bruery to get the same enjoyment out of being here as well. If they aren't enjoying it, I want to know, especially if it increases the enjoyment for everyone else.

"...unique beer...": Our beers should stand out from others on the shelf and give us a sense of pride that we're doing things our own way.

"... for the enjoyment of our supporters.": The word "enjoyment" is quite vague, but we want people to like our beer. We want people to have the beer in an atmosphere of enjoyment, and I think most craft beers are had with this in mind. Whether the person having the beer is experiencing this beer for the first time and is being exposed to a world of new flavors, or this beer is an old standby, we want that person to find value in our beer and not be disappointed by it. Thus, we'll have very high standards of quality. If I don't like it, I won't expect anyone else to either. Our beer may not be compatible with everyone's tastes, but it will be a priority to make sure those who enjoy complexity in their beer are enjoying our beer. Developing a relationship with those who enjoy our beer, or our "supporters", is important to me. I think having a connection to the customer is one of the things that will make it enjoyable for myself and for future workers of The Bruery.

What do you think of this as a mission statement? What am I missing?

Hop and Malt Prices

If you check out other beer blogs, you've probably heard that hops are in short supply in this 2007 harvest, and prices are going through the roof. I'm trying to contract out some hops for this next year, and most places don't believe they have enough supply to enter into those contracts this late in the game. Even if they could sell me the hops I want, prices are about double of 2006 harvest prices. So what the hell am I going to do?

I'm in the process of securing all the hops I'll need for the year by getting my hands on what's left over from the 2006 harvest. I've been able to get Czech Saaz, Styrian Goldings, US Sterling, German Magnum, US Warrior, and US Summit. I have 440 lbs. of hops in inventory, and I'll be buying more in an attempt to hold me over until the 2008 harvest. All of these are vaccum sealed and have been cold stored (and are now stored at 10 below), so they should be very fresh. Most of my hop usage is for bittering, so I'm somewhat fortunate to be focusing on Belgian-style beers, seeing that most are in the 15 - 35 IBU range and tend not to have too much in the way of aroma hops. I'm a big fan of IPA's and Double IPA's, so I hope this shortage and price hike doesn't affect those styles too much.

As for malt prices, they are expected to climb 50 - 100%. There isn't much I can do about that, but I haven't heard of any talk of not being able to secure malt without a contract. I'll be looking into this more. It doesn't help that I don't have a silo-- bulk storage of grain is out of the question for me right now.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Plans Approved by City

Finally, we're ready to start construction! Plans were approved this morning by the City of Placentia, and my general contractor just needs to pull the permit, and I need to pay a hefty fee. Seems easy enough, right? The only thing holding me back is that my contractor isn't returning my phone calls. The City is closed tomorrow, so the permit will have to be pulled on Monday.

Regardless, I'm trying to reflect on the accomplishment that my plans were approved, and things can finally move along. I think celebrating all of the small achievements along the way is important in keeping sane, and as a reminder about what I'm trying to do. I'm not in the business of building breweries; I'm in the business of brewing beer. I now know how to start a brewery, and I hope I'll remember how to brew when it comes time!

If construction starts next week, I'm aiming to start brewing in late October / early November. If that's correct, then I'd be on track to sell bottles / kegs in early December. I haven't been right on guessing when things would get done previously, so I probably shouldn't be putting dates out there, but I will anyway. I'm really looking forward to brewing a winter seasonal, so I pray this timeline pans out.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Plans Approved by Health Department

While I'm at it (3 posts for the day)-- on Tuesday, The Bruery's plans were approved by the OC Environmental Health Agency. This is great news, as now I'm able to move on to the next step. The plans were submitted to the City of Placentia on Wednesday (I needed Health Dept. clearance first), and I'm hoping to get some good news this afternoon. I also submitted my plans to the OC Fire Authority on Wednesday, and will check with the South Coast Air Quality Management District today to see what I need to do for them. The OCFA was very expensive, so I'm hoping the AQMD is easier on me.


Last Sunday I met up with Mark Graham and Loren Miraglia at Mark's beautiful house in San Clemente to brew a 10 gallon batch of the Batch No. 01 Competition winner, Levud's. This is a Golden Strong Belgian Ale that is remarkably simple in ingredients, but overwhelmingly complex in flavor. I had a lot of fun watching these guys brew. They are so laid back and yet still finished brewing the batch in around 3 hours-- remarkable! I can't do that even when I'm paying full attention to what I'm doing. To their credit, they had everything ready to go. The grain was crushed, the strike water was to temp., and the beers were cold (but not too cold).

Loren and Mark will be helping me brew this batch commercially. 34 bbl of this will be brewed, so it will technically be Batch No. 01 and No. 02, but we'll consider it all one batch since it'll be fermenting in the same fermenter. 30 bbl will go into stainless, and 4 bbl will be fermenting in oak. I'm doing two batches of it because I feel this beer will sell very well, so I want to make enough to meet demand, and because I have no idea what the efficiency on my system will be. If the first batch extracts way too many or way too few fermentables, I have a second chance to brew it and average out the first batch to where we want. You only get to brew Batch No. 01 once, so I want it to be as close to the original as possible.

Thanks Mark and Loren, can't wait to brew this with you guys!

Scoresheets Finally Returned

Sorry to all those who entered the Batch No. 01 Competition, I've been very slow at getting your scoresheets back to you. I finally got them out yesterday, so many of you should find them in your mail boxes today. Congrats again to the winners!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Beautiful, Sexy New Stainless

I know I'm not alone here-- I get tingly inside by the sight of shiny, new stainless steel. I used to watch Home Improvement on ABC every once in awhile when I was a kid, and I never understood Tim Allen's character going "Arrrgh Arrrgh Arrrgh" like a pirate when he played with a new power tool on his show. Now I get it. Forget the hookers, bring me to the nearest stainless fabrication plant.

On Friday, Sept. 7th, I received a new 30 bbl fermenter, and a 30 bbl brite tank. I ordered these from Rob Soltys of Premier Stainless, who has these manufactured in China. There's a lot of debate about Chinese stainless brewing equipment, and I've seen a lot of Chinese stainless brewing equipment coming out of several different plants, and I feel very good about the quality of these fermenters. There are quite a few well known brewers in San Diego using these also without any issue.

My neighbors at Label Specialties and Factory Merchandising helped me unload the beasts. Thanks guys! The fermenter was too long for one forklift, so we had to use two forklifts and a few dicey maneuvers. Luckily, we got them off the truck without incident. It's all starting to feel real.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Beer Associations

Hi Everyone, Rachel here.

As I was laying in bed last night at 2am, unable to sleep, I was thinking about the concept of beer associations. It seemed very interesting to me at the time, but I am not sure if it was one of those moments of faux clarity, like when you have drunk too much. OK- focus Rachel. Here's my claim- people associate beer with experiences, events, etc. Therefore their attitude/ opinion of that beer, is (somewhat) dependent on these experiences. My logical reasoning is a little rusty, so please bear with me.

Here's some examples I can think of. Note- as you will see, they have nothing to do with the actual beer characteristics, although I definitely do appreciate those as well. Its the memories, emotions, that these beers invoke in me, that make them meaningful and special.

  • Coastal Fog- those crazy keg parties from college, namely senior year when everyone had developed somewhat sophisticated enough tastes, or thought it was passe to continue buying the kegs of natty light among the freshman with fake ids. These were the Jack Johnson days. These parties were somewhat nostalgic, but always fun, and this beer will always remind me of them. New Belgium's Fat Tire falls into this category as well- because all our college friends from Colorado always ranted and raved about this beer, and it was a true celebration when they began to distribute in No Cal.

  • Deschutes Black Butte Porter- this beer will always remind me of Sunriver, Oregon. Sunriver's one of my in-laws favorite vacation spots, which we have been going to for years. This beer reminds me of sitting at the porch, watching the golf course, or having dinner at the local restaurant. I am in vacation mode whenever I drink it. Deschutes was also my first official brewery tour.

  • Duvel- This beer reminds me of Thanksgiving. We had it this past year, in addition to Pat's own Saison, which was used to brine the turkeys. (Ah, beer as a food ingredient- we definitely have to save that for another discussion)

Hopefully you guys can get the picture of what I am talking about now. I feel that this is an important thing to consider in the creation of The Bruery. Our customer's experience of the beer is very important to us- and is taken into account in our bottle selection, tasting room, beer names, basically everything.

But enough about me, I want to know what YOUR beer associations are. Why don't you include your own in the comments section of this post. I know you're out there...come on, it won't hurt, I promise!!!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Health Department Issues Resolved

Things are looking up at The Bruery-- my Dad and I met with the Health Department yesterday (yes, I need an entourage) and I believe we resolved our issues and have a clear understanding of what needs to happen to get our plans approved. Walls will be erected, lots of money will be spent, base cove will cover several hundred feet of wall, but I get to move on to opening a brewery. Our friends at Bootlegger's Brewery in Fullerton are required to do the same thing, so this is the way it goes if you want to open a brewery in beautiful Orange County from here on out. Thanks to the Planners at OC Environmental Health for being patient with us-- I'm still learning.

I'm in the process of revising my plans to incorporate what the Health Department needs to see on them, and once I turn them in (today or tomorrow), they should be approved within 3-5 business days. Then I'll go to the City, hopefully get my plans approved in short order, have my contractor pull a permit, and start construction.

My goal for brewing the first batch is now looking like sometime in October, and that's optimistic. That's what I'm shooting for anyway.

Monday, August 27, 2007

The Bruery Batch No. 01 Competition Results

Thanks to all of the people who entered their beer into the competition! We received 34 entries, and had ten judges at The Bruery on Sunday to judge them. We were a bit short of judges, so I had to judge myself. Luckily, my short term memory is shot, so I wasn't able to identify the brewers with the beers I was judging, so rest assured the judging process was not compromised. There were many great beers entered--everyone who entered should be proud of the quality of their beers.

The best of show winner is Loren Miraglia of Encinitas, CA, and his brewing partner Mark Graham of San Clemente, CA. Loren is a member of QUAFF, and is reknown for his Belgian-style beers. Loren is especially talented in yeast culturing and archiving, a skill I wish I had and a skill I desparately need. They won for their Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale, named Levud's, backwards for Duvel. This beer is fairly similar to Duvel-- dry and has a spectacular hoppy, crisp finish, with a pear fruity undertone. It is dangerously drinkable for a 9% beer. I can't wait to brew this beer. I'm thinking a 10 gallon batch this week is in order, although Loren and Mark used a yeast that's not quite commercially available-- a self cultured strain that Duvel used that dates back before 1995. I hope these guys help me out in getting this strain, or WLP570 it is!

As an odd-ball contest, we divided up the categories according to the number of entries in particular categories. BJCP Category 16A-D and 23, Category 16E, Category 18A, B, and E, and Category 18 C and D were judged by two or three judges each. The following are the results for each of those categories:

Category 16A-D, 23:
1st Place: Mike McDole, Clayton, CA-- Belgian Pale Ale
2nd Place: Patrick Duke, Orange, CA-- Witbier
3rd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Saison, "Summer School Saison"

Category 16E:
1st Place: Dan Sherman, Lafayette, CA-- Grand Cru
2nd Place: Barry Weeg, Phoenix, AZ-- Double Witbier, "Windlass Witbier"
3rd Place: Douglas Gladue, Nesconset, NY-- Belgian Quadrupel with Chamomile, "Camailo"

Category 18A, B, E:
1st Place: Loren Miraglia, Encinitas, CA-- Dubbel
2nd Place: Loren Mirglia, Encinitas, CA / Mark Graham, San Clemente, CA-- Belgian Blonde Ale, "Teagon Blonde"
3rd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Belgian Blonde Ale, "Shut Up"

Category 18C, D:
1st Place: Loren Mirglia, Encinitas, CA / Mark Graham, San Clemente, CA-- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, "Levud's" (Best of Show Winner)
2nd Place: Brent Brubaker, Riverside, CA-- Belgian Tripel, "Golden Valley"
3rd Place: James Sites, Littleton, CO-- Belgian Golden Strong Ale, "St. Peter of Luxembourg"

Congratulations to the winners! I'll mail out score sheets this week, along with a special surprise to all entrants.

Thanks to the judges and stewards, who displayed a good amount of bravery to show up to a warehouse off of the 57 freeway on a Sunday morning. The judges were Steve Cook, a BJCP judge and the President of the Maltose Falcons; Jim Wilson, a National rank BJCP judge who is my mentor in judging BJCP exams; Tyler King, the brewer at BJ's West Covina and an excellent resource of brewing knowledge; Kenny Hollingshead, an advisor of mine who runs the infamous Hollingshead Deli and possibly a first time judge; Cristian Sierra, a BJCP judge and Inland Empire Brewers Vice President (I think he travelled the furthest from Crestline, CA); Pete Bakulic, a good friend who is a mead/wine/beer/everything expert who lives just a few blocks away from The Bruery; Casey Rue, my big brother and designer of The Bruery logo and first time beer judge; Mike Rue, my Dad, business advior and another first time beer judge; Dennis Paul, my father-in-law and yet another first time beer judge; and myself. Dennis gets the award for his performance as first time beer judge. He did a great job, and was asked to perform the duty about 10 minutes before he started judging. He did get a fair amount of instruction from Jim Wilson, so thanks to Jim. I think all of the first time beer judges did a very nice job, and learned a lot about beer in the process. If their comments are insulting, please take them with a grain of salt. Many didn't know the entrants would be receiving these back, so they are about as candid as it gets. Stewards Joan Paul (my Mother-in-law) and Jenny Rue (My Mom) did a great job getting the competition finished in a timely manner.

Thanks to all for entering, and look out for Batch No. 01 on store shelves whenever we get around to opening our doors!

Thanks to Spence Coleman for the photo(s)!!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

The Bruery Batch No. 01 Competition Update

Entries have started coming in from all over the place-- the furthest so far being Colorado. Entries are due this Friday (August 24th), so bring them to the drop-off spots or FedEx / UPS them today.

The mailing address:

The Bruery
715 Dunn Way
Placentia, CA 92870

Here's the current drop-off spots:

Beer Beer & More Beer
1506 Columbia Ave. Suite 12
Riverside, CA 92507

O'Sheas Brewing Co.
28142 Camino Capistrano
Laguna Niguel, CA 92677

Stein Fillers
4160 Norse Way
Long Beach, CA 90808

For those in LA, we also added the Home Wine, Beer and Cheese Shop:

22836 Ventura Blvd., Unit 2
Woodland Hills, CA 91364

If you're in San Diego, eMail or give me a call and we'll arrange for some sort of pick up. It's too late to add a San Diego drop off point, but I'd be happy to arrange something on Thursday for picking up entries.

This should be a great competition, so if you're debating whether to send anything in, please do! There's no entry fee, and every entrant will receive a gift from us. Cheers!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Mammoth Bluesapalooza

A couple of weekends ago (August 3-5 to be exact), Patrick and I went to Mammoth's Bluesapalooza. It was our first time at the event, and we had a great time. The drive up was excrutiatingly boring- we had no CD's or adapter for Pat's I-phone (lucky Bastard), so it was only the radio for us, which consisted of mostly fuzz in the middle of the desert- so fun. We reached Mammoth about lunch time, and grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed over to a California Small Brewers Association seminar at Mammoth Brewing Company that afternoon. We missed the first couple of sessions because we were late, but got to hear the tale end of a interesting marketing presentation, and heard a talk from a canning systems distributor, Cask Brewing Systems. We also got a first hand look at Mammoth Brewing Company's brand new canning line. We left feeling quite intrigued with the idea of canning beers, but don't think it goes well with the image we are going for. Perhaps in the future we will develop another Bruery off-shoot, where Pat CAN put his hoppiness to good use(pun intended).

We went to festival Friday evening, and got to hang in the special VIP Brewer's section. Thank you Dave!!! We got to meet a couple of really nice brewing folks from Kern River Brewing, Coronado Brewing Company, and The Brewhouse. After that, we met Tyler, a brewer friend from BJ's West Covina, for some beers back over at Mammoth Brewing.

Saturday morning we went on an early morning horseback ride. You don't think we could go all the way to Mammoth and not do something outdoorsy?? The ranch must have known of Patrick as an up and coming brewer, because they made sure he had a special horse- a former actor who was featured in "Scorpion Kings." There was some Hollywood personality left in the guy- he was definitely not enjoying Pat's manly frame on his backside, and would let out a grunt/moan (not the usually horsy noise) whenever Patrick gave him a gentle kick. I can see why he was turned down for "Brokeback Mountain."

After the ride, we washed the dust off us (did I mention even my teeth were covered in dust?) and headed over to the Festival of Beers. It was packed by opening time, and the bands were playing away. We immediately spotted several Long Beach Hop Heads-complete with shirts and tatoos! The highlight of the festival would have to be Craftman's lavender sour ale- fantastic. Firestone Walker's cask IPA was pretty great too. It was the perfect setting- beautiful scenery, great music, and most importantly, great beer. Oh, did I mention, unlimited pours??

Mammoth's Bluesapalooza and Festival of Beers will now be a yearly event for us. We cannot wait to be able to serve next year, and bring Barley too.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Progress Report

Sorry for the lack of updates-- things have been busy lately and I don't have any accomplishments to gloat about. The most important thing I'm working on is getting Orange County Environmental Health ("Health Department") approval, which we need before we can get our plans approved by the city, which has to happen before we start construction.

The Health Department has been pretty prompt so far, but we've come to a bit of a snag. They are requiring the brewery to be enclosed from the large cargo doors. This caught me off guard as in all of the production breweries I've been to, I've never seen this. Essentially, they don't want the large cargo doors to be able to open up directly into the brewing area, so I'm trying to figure out how to fix this in an effective way that won't impair my ability to run a brewery. Last week I sent a letter with an explanation of how my system is closed for much of the process, and completely closed from when the wort is 200 F+ in the whirlpool, among other reasons why enclosing the brewing area wouldn't have a positive effect on the sanitation of my brewery. I received a response on Saturday that I'd still need to enclose the brewery.

My goal is to find a solution to prevent insects / vermin from entering the brewery as well as maintaining good access and ventilation. Rachel found a good solution: Clear View Motorized Power Screens. These would work great as they'll keep out everything except the air. There's a few other ideas I have for enclosing the brewery without putting up walls.

I'd like to avoid putting up walls in the brewing area as it would greatly impair my ability to add fermenters, as well as remove spent grain with the forklift. The ventilation and humidity of an enclosed area is another potential problem. Another way to enclose the area would be building a vestibule around the cargo doors, creating a small gap between the cargo door and a conventional double door. In this case, it would be difficult to bring in the dozens of pallets we'll receive when we order malt, glass, etc. and it would make bringing in oversized parts like additional fermenters extremely difficult, if not impractical. I'm sure we'll come to an equitable resolution that will work for the Health Department and for myself.

As for when we'll start brewing, you'll likely have to wait a few more weeks from when I've been telling you we'd be open. It's looking more like we'll start selling sometime in November. It is very difficult to project when I'll be brewing, as new surprises come up all the time that take an extra day, week, or month than I anticipated. Opening as soon as possible is the ultimate goal, so I'm pushing myself and others to make it happen by Fall.

Opening in the Fall is not just important for maintaining my sanity, it's important that my beers are on shelves during the Holiday season, as it is a strong time for sales and happens to be my favorite time of the year when it comes to seasonal beers. After New Years, many go on a diet, or no longer have disposable income after buying too much, and beer sales tend to be flat until March. If I'm not selling until after the holiday season, I hope you'll make an exception in your diet and wallet for my beers!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Happy Birthday, Patrick!

Our Patrick turns a young 27 today. That's right, he is an eighties child, and some of you may be old enough to be his father or mother, or atleast had the opportunity to babysit.

Oh, but he is wise beyond his years. From taking up the occasional cigarette when he was 5, to getting his first computer job when he was 12, and finding the love of his life at a mere 16, Patrick has always been ahead of the game. And he has the grays to prove it!!

So 3 cheers for our owner/brewer!!!

PS- the picture is of our adorable niece and nephew, taken by our talanted sister-in-law. I am not sure if she does beer glamour shots though.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Two of Three: Saison Rue

Saison Rue is our second year-round offering. You can probably tell it's going to be of the Saison style, which isn't much of a style as far as guiding what a Saison should taste like.

Our saison will be made with a fair amount of rye (about 35% of the grist), and a small amount of pale chocolate malt and Special Roast to give it a beautiful orange glow and a touch of biscuit-like maltiness. The rest of the fermentables will be pilsner malt and minimally processed sugar. There will be a small amount of spices that will give Saison Rue some additional complexity, but you shouldn't be able to tell spices were added. The Sterling and Crystal hops will add a slight spiciness and citrus aroma. I'll be using a mixed Belgian yeast culture for primary fermentation, and brettanomyces ("brett") as a secondary yeast for bottle fermentation. The brett will add complexity as this beer ages, and will eventually dry out the malt character. Saison Rue will weigh in at a bit over 8%.

I'm excited to brew this beer as a year-round offering. There aren't too many breweries using brettanomyces or rye in their regular offerings. There are potential problems in using both of them-- brett can 'infect' the brewery, as it is a hearty, strong yeast that can live off of almost anything. Rye doesn't have a husk, so it can cause sticky mashes that can result in a very slow mash runoff. I won't be deterred. Great beers come to those who have the guts to make them, or buy them, in your case.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Brewed at Left Coast and Stacked Pallets

Yesterday I had the opportunity to brew with Rick Smets at Left Coast Brewery, the production brewery for Oggi's in San Clemente. Rick is a great guy and a very knowledgeable brewer, so I picked his brain as I helped him brew a batch of hefeweizen. I found out Left Coast is going to start bottling their IPA, stout, and Hop Juice in 22 oz. bottles. They are all great beers, I recommend seeking them out. They were going to bottle Hop Juice yesterday, but their new bottling line is still being worked out. I also helped out with the filtering of their IPA with their plate and frame filter. I'm glad I won't be filtering, it's a bitch! It's amazing to see the difference between an unfiltered beer and a filtered beer. We started at 5:15 AM and finished up around 1 PM, leaving me the rest of the day to work on my own brewery.

After brewing in the morning, I didn't feel like doing much for the rest of the day. I sucked it up and decided to do something about my bottle storage problem. After 4 hours of moving stuff around and carefully stacking pallets, I can see that ordering this many bottles will work for me. Here's some before and after pictures:


As a sidenote, I get a lot of enjoyment visiting brewers and getting to know them. There are so many passionate, generous, interesting people in the brewing industry, and I feel lucky that I get to work in this business alongside them. I hope they feel the same way about me (don't worry, I won't always ask this many questions or be this annoying!), and I look forward to doing my share of helping out new brewers and brewery owners. Alright, enough sucking up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Happy August!

You know when you can't tell what day it is, or you forget what month it is? I am now reminded by a menstrual cycle known as rent. Progress is being made, so it shouldn't be too many more months of paying rent without any beer being sold.

I received 21,000 bottles of bulk glass yesterday from California Glass. That's 20 pallets of glass, each pallet costing more than I want to think about. I was very nervous I was going to topple one over as they are structurally not so stable. They are just layers upon layers of bottles with cardboard in between that are then plastic wrapped a few times, strapped to a pallet. I learned quickly how to be more gentle on the forklift.

Rachel and I had a fun day on Saturday visiting a few San Diego breweries. We went to Oceanside Aleworks, Alesmith, and Port Brewing / Lost Abbey. Our main purpose was for me to check out how the ground loading cargo doors are separated from the brewing area (research for our health department permit) and for her to check out tasting rooms. We won't be opening a tasting room initially, but Rachel is very interested in designing something very cool and unique when we do open one. On the previous Thursday, I did the same 'research' at Craftsman Brewing and Skyscraper Brewing, and paid a nice visit to Tyler at BJ's West Covina brewery. Thanks to Peter, Tomme, Mark and Phil for letting me check out their breweries!

Julian's dog (forgot your name, Pooch!) sitting under Tomme's chair at Lost Abbey.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Rachel's First Blog Entry

Howdy Folks,

It’s Rachel here. Patrick asked me this morning if I would like to contribute to The Bruery’s blog, so I thought I would give it a try. He was probably sick of my rantings on the infrequency of the blog entries, or how they can sometimes be boring enough to put both computers and their readers to sleep. So I am thinking this is revenge time, so let the criticism’s rip!

I am the OTHER Bruery employee. I am Co-owner/ Beer Wench/ Brewery Designer/ Publicist/ Beer namer/ Designated Driver/ Beer Lover (not while I am the Designated Driver)/ Paper Pusher/ Marketing Director of the Bruery. I was the lucky recipient of Patrick’s first homebrew batch, and every beer since. We were high school sweethearts, which means I knew him when his only craft brew exposure was Sam Adams. So if you are lucky, I will let some little known facts surface about him that the deserving public wants to know.

Unfortunately The Bruery cannot be my only job right now. Patrick is the only one to live, breath, eat The Bruery. I just get to do it after work and on weekends, or when I am sneaky at work, like now! When we are up and running, and are making sufficient income to support Patrick, Barley, and my shopping habits, I will take on The Bruery full time.

Who’s Barley, you ask? Well if you don’t remember, he is the official Bruery Dog.

He is now about 6 months old, and already a HUGE beer lover, longingly licking the outside of our chalices, scurrying after spilled grain, ears perking up whenever a beer ingredient list is read out loud. He is planning to work at the Bruery full time too, but has to work on his keg washing skills first. NOTE- Barley pisses fizzy yellow liquids, he does not drink them.

If I am not banned, hopefully you will see more from me soon. I usually accompany Patrick on the majority of his trips, so I look forward to chatting with you!

And yes- I DO like beer.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Celebrator Beer Magazine Mention

Rachel and I were very excited that we got our first mention in a publication! Here's what was written about us in the August/September 2007 issue of Celebrator in the "Beer Behind The Orange Curtain" section, written by Ed Heethuis:

"Orange County is slated to welcome another brewery in October... another Bruery, to be exact. The nme is a combination of the traditional spelling and owner/brewer Patrick Rue's surname. Located in Placentia, The Bruery is holding a competition to determine what beer will be brewed for the first batch. Patrick could not decide which beer to make first, so his wife and business partner, Rachel, suggested holding a homebrew contest as a way of honoring their homebrew roots.

Entries are due August 24, and the styles are restricted to Belgian and French Ale, Belgian Strong Ale and Specialty Beer (BJCP categories 16, 18, and 23, respectively). The beer may or may not be brewed as a regular offering, but the winning homebrewer will always have the distinction of having created the recipe for the first batch! Go to for drop-off locations and other details.

We wish Pat and Rachel all the best with this new endeavor and would like to remind them that any and all wisdom they may seek may be found within Karl Zappa's 100-Year Plan."

I'll have to ask Karl what this 100-Year Plan is. What a great article Ed, thanks for covering us!

One of three: Blanc Wit

I realized I hadn't discussed much about the beers I'll be brewing, so over the next few days I'll be writing about the different beers that will be coming out in the Fall. There will have three year-round beers, and four to six one-time / seasonal beers.

Blanc Wit (if you couldn't tell from the name) is a witbier, meaning "white beer". The name of our beer, Blanc Wit, roughly translates to "White White". Yeah, I know it doesn't make sense, but I like it.

I didn't want to brew a standard wheat beer, or a standard witbier, so Blanc Wit will be a bit unusual for the style. First of all, it'll be 7.3%. I don't like the term "Double Wit" or "Imperial Wit", so you won't find any of that on the label. I don't think it's big enough anyway to call it imperial or double. A large proportion of the recipe will be malted wheat (not unmalted wheat, which is traditional), a healthy dose of oats (about 10%), and the rest pilsner malt. Cane sugar will also be used for about 10% of fermentables to dry the beer out a bit. It will be lightly spiced with Indian corriander, kumquat peel (if I can find any suppliers!), and a secret ingredient that I don't want to reveal at this point. It will be fermented with a saison yeast strain, the same strain I'll be using for the primary fermentation of our other beers as well.

I'm hoping this beer will be different from any other beer you've had, in a positive way. I think it'll be a delicious and special beer, but it will also be one of our more 'standard' offerings, meaning it will be more subtle than my other beers and a beer I wouldn't hesitate to give to that person who "doesn't like beer."

Also, if you've been following the equipment I'll be using, you may have noticed it's not sized too well. My mash tun is designed for a 23 bbl brewery, my kettle has a 17 bbl (20 hL) capacity, my whirlpool has 23 bbl capacity, and my fermenters are either 15 bbl or 30 bbl. This mismatch of equipment sizes is actually a good thing for me. I'll be brewing 17 bbl batches, and then will ferment the extra 2 bbl in oak, and then, depending on the beer, add the oaked portion back to the batch after fermentation, or bottle / keg the oaked portion separately from the main batch. I'm pretty excited about this approach-- I love the effect that oak has on beer and can't wait to experiment with it.