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.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Lesson #346

I went to the City today for plan check, and found I needed the Health Department approval first! I should have expected this, not sure why I didn't. I submitted my plans to health last week, so they'll have a response within 3 weeks or so from today. I'm going to do as much work as I can in the meantime while I'm waiting on that.

On a positive note, the 3 phase 200 amp electrical service installation started today, which should be completed by Wednesday. I'm tying into an existing line about 90 feet from my space, so conduit is being run along the roofline.

On a less than positive (somewhat neutral note), I won't be submitting anything into the Great American Beer Festival (GABF) or be serving at Stone's 11th Anniversary. It's too early to get my beers out there at this point, but there's always next year! I'll be attending both events and can't wait.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Bootlegger's Brewery

I had lunch yesterday at the Yard House in Brea with Aaron Barkenhagen, the co-owner of Bootlegger's Brewery, soon to be brewing in Fullerton, CA. Aaron's brewery is near the Old Town area of Fullerton, on the other side of the tracks in a small industrial center. His place is about 3 miles from mine. He has a 7 bbl system, I believe manufacturered by DME, and he's starting out with an Extra Pale Ale, Bavarian Hefeweizen, and an American IPA.

Aaron is well on his way to opening. When I visited, trenches were open for the installation of drains, and most of his equipment appears to be on-site. Aaron and I seem to be following the same path in having a tight budget for equipment, which is tough to do when used equipment is hard to come by. Some of the items we've both purchased have higher scrap value than what we've paid for them.

Aaron showed me his logo and label artwork, which looks great. I'm looking forward to his beers!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

New Breweries for Southern California

Yesterday I was at the brewery meeting with a family friend who was advising me on my plans, and had a surprise visitor-- a brewer who is setting up shop just a few miles from me. I won't say where his brewery is, or give details about it without his permission, but it sounds like he will be making some great beers. He's probably a month or so ahead of me, so you shouldn't have to wait too long for his beer. I'm excited that this area will have a few breweries to call home, and I think gives people an incentive to come out and visit us, along with the few other brewpubs in the area (Taps and BJ's).

Another brewery in the works is Hangar 24 Craft Brewery in Redlands. Ben Cook has been underway for some time, and from what I've heard, is about ready to start brewing.

My friend, Curt Dale, is expanding his Dale Brothers Brewery in Upland from a 4 BBL system to a 10 BBL system. Curt makes some great session beers, so I hope I'll see more of his tap handles in my area. Curt's old system has been purchased by a homebrewer from Costa Mesa / Newport Beach, who plans to open shop at some point, perhaps in Orange County?

I'm sure there's other breweries I haven't heard about in this area getting started. LA, Orange County, and the Inland Empire are reknown for the lack of craft beer, so we're due for some local breweries.

The influx of new breweries coming to this area would make some brewery owners a bit nervous, as there will be more competition. Oddly enough, having more craft beer being produced in a region more often than not leads to the increased sale of craft beers. That sounds a circular argument, but when people in an area have a higher degree of knowledge of craft beer, they are more likely to drink craft beer. Portland, Oregon, or San Diego are great examples of this phenomenon. Competition also compels breweries to produce a higher quality, more distinctive beer in order to stand out in the marketplace, which is a great thing for our customers and our own success.

Is this why they call it the "Babble Belt"?

Serious Belgian beer lovers and homebrewers are regulars of the Burgundian Babble Belt, so I thought it would be appropriate to let the knowledgeable homebrewing message board members know about the "Batch No. 01" competition. There's some interesting discussion about the language I included in the entry form:

"The Bruery intends to produce this batch as a one time offering, although we reserve the right to brew this recipe as a year-round or a seasonal offering without further compensation to the winning brewer."

It came to the attention of one that this gives me free reign to take the winning homebrewers recipe and run with it. That person is right, it does give me the ability to do just that. Law school taught me that I need to CMA (cover my ass), and I don't think I should have to pay royalties for a recipe, especially when it was freely submitted to me in the first place. I explained myself and my intent behind this contest, and some people came to support my point of view. It's a pretty interesting read if you're having a slow day:

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Trip to San Diego

Rachel and I celebrated our 4th wedding anniversary around North San Diego yesterday. We went to the Wild Animal Park in the morning, which was fun. Going for a few hours was perfect though, I couldn't see myself spending all day there. Of note during our trip there, we saw two desert turtles getting it on:

I'm glad someone's getting some on my anniversary! (Just kidding, sweetheart!)

We then had an excellent lunch at the Stone World Bistro. We split the Spud Buds (pretty damn good!), and I had the Tikka Masala with a bourbon barrel aged Sierra Nevada Celebration, and Rachel had the Bruchetta BLT with the Craftsman Triple White Sage. The people at Stone put a lot of attention into the details of that restaurant, it was a great experience.

We met with Greg Koch, Stone's Co-Founder and CEO, and prodded him about the brewery business. Greg's a great guy and was very willing to share his expertise with me. Stone has seen huge success in their short 11 years in business and I think this is in large part due to Greg's business sense and vision for the direction of the brewery. Thanks for the advice, Greg!

We spoke briefly about The Bruery serving beer at the 11th Anniversary celebration, and I hope we'll be pouring there. By mid-September, we will hopefully have a few batches in the works, but they likely won't be ready to serve at the festival. If we're pouring our beers, we'll be serving some of our beers brewed on our 10 gallon Beer, Beer and More Beer (B3) system. I love going to the Stone anniversary festivals so I'm anxious to serve our beers at the event.

We moved on to Lost Abbey / Port Brewing in San Marcos, just 5 minutes away from Stone. This was Stone's first brewery, and it's always exciting visiting this brewery. Things seem to change on a weekly basis here. There's always something new going into the barrels, coming out of the barrels, and the people who work here are a lot of fun to hang around. Tomme was on a trip to beer-related trip to Italy (lucky bastard). We got to talk with Bo Winegarner, the assistant brewer here. Bo and I met the first time at the homebrew judging for the Orange County Fair, and since I've seen him at a lot of homebrew judgings. It's awesome that he's working at such an exciting and innovative brewery.

Lost Abbey has a very loyal following, and there were quite a few people hanging out on a Friday afternoon. Whenever I visit The Lost Abbey / Port Brewing, I'm always a bit surprised how friendly and approachable everyone is. It's a fun place to hang out. Whenever we open up our brewery to tastings, I hope there will be a similar atmosphere. I saw many familiar faces while we were there, and got to speak with a few people who actually read this blog. You guys must be really bored! Rachel says I need to make this blog more interesting, so there's a chance it'll be more interesting to read in the near future. I'll probably just post more pictures. Didn't I just post turtles humping? It's getting better already.

It was great to meet Julian, a homebrewer and fellow beer geek from our neck of the woods in Garden Grove. I asked him if he was going to submit anything to our homebrew competition, but he doesn't have any Belgian beers at the moment. He just did brew a malt liquor though, something that could fit into the Specialty Beer category of our competition. Forget the 750 mL champagne bottle shipment, we're going straight to 40's. I've heard great things about Julian's beers (especially his IPA's), so I hope he'll be able to enter something. I'm sure his Malt Liquor ("Thundertrain"?) kicks ass too, literally.

As a final note, The Lost Abbey is one of the breweries I look to for inspiration and techniques on how I'll be making my beers. Of particular interest is their barrel aging techniques. I'm looking forward to aging many of our beers in oak, and these guys know how to do it right. If you've ever had Cuvee de Tomme or Angel's Share, you know what I'm talking about. Check out the barrels at Lost Abbey (this is a fraction of what they have aging at the brewery):

Thursday, July 12, 2007

ABC Visit, Didn't Submit Plans to City

Just a quick update on what's been going on. Yesterday I had a site visit from the ABC. They checked the measurements of the building, and confirmed I was running a production brewery for sales to retailers, not direct sales at this time. They were cheerful and seemed to be happy to be dealing with a brewery. They told me that they were just about ready to issue the license. They are going to hold off on issuing it until I tell them I'm a few weeks away from production beginning, as production (or sales, for other types of alcohol licenses) is supposed to begin within 30 days of the license being issued.

Earlier that morning, I met with Dan Stromberg from George Fisher. They manufacture pre-fabricated insulated ABS plastic glycol lines, pretty nice stuff. I'll probably go with their insulated lines, as my glycol run is relatively short and having them done right could save a lot of money in the long run from cooling loss. The building I'm in is very warm, especially towards the ceiling, so the more insulation, the better.

On Tuesday, I was supposed to go with my contractor to the city. At the last moment, I remembered I never had structural calculations done on the glycol chiller being mounted on the roof. We figured it's pretty important to get calculations for putting a 1,400 lb. unit on the roof of a relatively old building, so we're working on that now. If the structural calculations were completed, I wouldn't have submitted anyway. The inspector who would review the plans over the counter is on vacation for two weeks. We could have submitted through another inspector, but that could have been problematic, as we would be dealing with more than one inspector in that case. We just want to deal with one inspector so there aren't any conflicts between what the two inspectors require of us. My plans also are not very good, so I'm improving those to the best of my abilities. I wish I hired an architect right now.

As a side note, my strategy for opening a brewery on a tight budget is that I am doing many of the tasks to keep my labor costs low. I don't have talent or experience in many of these areas, so I'm learning quickly, but now is really not the time to learn. If you are considering opening a business, either learn before you start paying rent, or hire someone who knows what they are doing. Don't plan to pay people in beer. That might work for family and friends, but it doesn't fly for other people. Perhaps when I start cranking out beer, it'll work, but promises of beer in a few months hasn't worked so far.

I did go to the city to get a permit for putting in a 200 amp, 3 phase power service. I signed the lease based on a building with three phase power, which most of my equipment requires. It turned out I only had single phase, so I've been dealing with Edison in bringing in three phase to this part of the building. Luckily, they approved it and now my electrician can start on bringing in that power. I'm able to keep the single phase service also, so that will help out quite a bit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Lots of Things Happening

Today my contractor and I will be meeting with the city to submit our plans. I'm a bit nervous about this, seeing that I drew up the plans, and I'm not an architect. These are minor changes, such as floor drains, a new electrical panel, and extending the plumbing, so hopefully the city will have mercy on my crappy drawings. I've been in contact with the building department and the inspector, so I think they know what we are doing for the most part. We'll see how that goes.

The ABC called me yesterday to tell me my application is almost complete. They need to come by on Wednesday and make sure I'm not running a restaurant there, and we're still waiting on the Board of Equalization to cash my excise tax bond. Otherwise, we should be good to go. Technically, I need to start brewing within 30 days of having the license, so a bit of a delay for the ABC license wouldn't be such a bad thing.

Also, the homebrew contest is getting a lot of positive attention. We'll likely have international entries, which is pretty cool, and a few newspapers are looking into writing articles about it. It should be a fun competition. I'm hoping to get over 100 entries, but if I had to guess today, I'd say we'll get 60 entries.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Batch No. 01 Competition

Today I'm announcing a homebrew competition The Bruery will be hosting. The main prize for the first place beer is that it will be brewed as The Bruery's first batch. That's right, we'll be brewing 527 gallons of the winning beer, more or less, depending on how well I brew that first batch!

Here's the press release I sent out today to local media, beer media, and homebrew clubs:



Patrick Rue
The Bruery
715 Dunn Way
Placentia, CA 92870
Phone: 714-400-6092
Web Site:

Start Up Brewery Hosts Homebrew Competition to Determine First Batch

Placentia, CA – July 9, 2007 – The Bruery, a new craft brewery in Orange County, California, is holding a homebrew competition which will determine the first batch brewed at the brewery. Patrick Rue, Owner and Brewer says, “We are excited to bring the spirit and innovation of homebrewing into our new brewery from its inception. We're still avid homebrewers ourselves and we strongly believe homebrewing is a significant part of what keeps craft beer interesting.”

The winning beer will be produced as the brewery’s first batch, named “Batch No. 01”. The winner will have the opportunity to assist in brewing the batch on their 17 bbl system, if the winner so chooses. The first, second and third place winners will also receive various prizes, which are still to be determined. The winner's name will be prominently mentioned on the bottle label. In addition, the batch will be served at The Bruery's grand opening celebration, which will take place in the Fall.

For more information, please visit

Based in Orange County, California, The Bruery is a small, traditional craft brewery which is slated to open in the Fall of 2007. The Bruery will specialize in brewing bottle conditioned Belgian-style and unconventional specialty beers.


Sunday, July 8, 2007

TTB Approval Granted

I got a call on Friday from the TTB agent telling me I was approved! I was very relieved, seeing that I filled out all of the paperwork myself, which included the environmental impact of the brewery on air quality and navigable waterways, how I'm going to protect my precious beer from Osama Bin Laden, thirsty thiefs, and so on. I carefully filled everything out and tried my best to include every piece of information I thought was relevant. I'm glad to see law school was good for something!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Licenses and Approvals

Tony Clarke posted this comment: "I am also trying to start my own brewery although I am in the infancy of planning. I'm very interested in a complete list of what licenses you need to operate a brewery in California?"

This is a great question, and this is a big part of why I started writing about opening a brewery. There's a lot of hoops to go through, so hopefully this will help Tony and others start up their own breweries as well. This is what I've had to deal with so far, so it shouldn't be deemed a complete list, especially if you're from another state. Cities vary on what is required as well.

I'll break it up into categories, the main ones being general licenses that many businesses that sell a product and have employees would need to have, as well as ones specific to breweries. I'll also break it up by local, state, and federal, along with those respective agencies.


Municipal Government (city):
• Business License- Most cities require businesses to file a license to conduct business in their city.
• Building- You need a building permit if you're going to make any changes to the premises, such as electrical, plumbing, walls, and so on.

County Government:
• Fictitious Business License- If you are called anything besides the legal name of the person or organization (i.e. The Bruery LLC or Apple Computer Inc.), you need to file one of these. Essentially, you're informing the areas you are principally doing business that your conducting business under another name than your legal name. I registered "The Bruery" so I wouldn't have to write LLC on everything.

State Government:
• Sellers Permit- The State Board of Equalization requires those reselling products to file for a sellers permit so they can collect sales tax and keep tabs on you.
• Corporations / LLC's / Limited Partnerships - You'll need to file Articles of Organization / Articles of Incorporation with the State. Keep in mind LLC's and Limited Partnerships have to pay $800 a year "fee" in California. Many other states don't have fees beyond the document fees. Make sure to research what choice of entity will work the best for your situation.

Federal Government:
• IRS Employer Identification Number- If you're not running the business as a sole propietorship, you'll need an EIN. It's basically the equivalent of a Social Security Number for tracking the income of the business.

Brewery Specific:

Local Government:
• Planning- You may need a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) for the use, and it depends on the city and whether you want to run a tasting room or sell on site. Check with the planning department first before signing a lease. I'll need a CUP for a tasting room, but I don't need one if I just stick with brewing and distribution without on-site or off-site direct sales. I decided to not apply for the CUP until after I begin brewing, as they tend to take a few months and I didn't want a tasting room to hold me up.
• Water District- You may need to inform the water district of the use. My water district doesn't seem to care as I'm a fairly modest in my water demand.
• Sanitation District - You'll need to inform the sanitation district of the use, and possibly get a permit through them before doing any work to your sewer connection. Research this before signing a lease-- there are many costly devices (i.e. clarifying tanks, sewage processing plant, etc.) the sanitation district could require of you, and it would be best to avoid these areas.
• Fire Department - You will likely have to get an inspection by the fire authority. They will check that you have the required amount of fire extinguishers, that no combustables are being stored improperly, and probably check out the boiler and/or direct fire burner on the kettle. You may need to lease a building that is sprinklered. The building I leased isn't sprinklered, but it wasn't a problem as the cut off is at 6,000 s.f. of leaseable space, and I'm a little over 5,000.

County Government:
• Health Agency- You'll need a license from the County Food Health Agency, Environmental Health Agency, or whatever your county calls it. For their purposes, a brewery is a wholesale food processing facility, so you'll be held to the same standards as caterers, granola bar manufacturers, and so on. They have fairly rigorous standards, probably more so than any other agency if everything else is planned correctly.

State Government:
• Alcohol Beverage Control- You'll need an alcohol license. In California, the small brewery will get a Type 23, which is Small Beer Manufacturer. A brewpub can get the same license, or they can get a Type 74. It takes 31-90 days (count on 70-90, or more if documents weren't filed timely) to get the license from the time it is properly filed.
• Board of Equalization, Excise Tax Division- You'll have to post a bond with the state, just in case you decide not to pay your excise taxes. The minimum bond is $1,000, which you can write a check for or get a surety company to post a bond. The surety will cost about $100 a year. California excise taxes are 20 cents per gallon of beer sold, so it adds up.

Federal Government:
• Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB)- The TTB is the excise taxing authority for the Federal government, but this agency also reviews other aspects outside of taxation, such as label approval and environmental review. My experience has been positive with the TTB. You'll have to post a bond with the TTB also, the minimum being $1,000. You can use a surety for this also, or just write a check for the full $1,000. The Federal excise tax rate is $7 per barrel for the first 60,000 bbl per year and $18 per barrel after the first 60,000 barrels.

I'm fairly sure this is a complete list, but I'll post as I remember / learn about others I have to get.