We suck…again. Sorry, we haven’t posted lately here but it was all for good reason. We have been insanely busy getting the brewery up and running and working through our soft opening process. The good news is that we are ready for our Grand Opening! Get yourself to the brewery and share the day with us. We will be back at the blog soon to go through the entire process and to give some insight on all that we have learned.
Thank you for all the support!
Choosing our glassware was a reasonably simple process so we will keep this post the same way. For us it was part style, part form, and part function. Not every beer is the same so we chose the glasses that will best showcase our beers. We have a taster, a Belgian, a tulip, and a Nonic pint glass.
When you are looking for a supplier of any sort, a great place to start is the Brewer’s Association website. In the upper right-hand corner you will find a drop-down menu that will allow you to search for things like suppliers, distributors, and retailers. It’s an invaluable service and best of all it is free to everyone.
Wholesale prices are a beautiful thing. Setting up accounts with different suppliers usually takes one or two phone calls or emails and filling out a customer application. It will take a little more time and a little more paperwork if you are setting up an account on credit. Cash accounts are typically approved within a couple of days. Most suppliers will require that you send them a copy of your seller’s permit and there are some suppliers that will require that your licensing process with the TTB is complete before they will sell you any goods.
We are still working on getting current with the progress of the brewery here on our blog. We made some great progress with construction of the brewery over the weekend and things are only going to escalate from here out. Make sure to like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter for updates on the brewery.
To save a little bit of money, and to get a little more storage than we could afford otherwise, we bought a used cold room. It is a relatively easy process to assemble the cold room. The panels of the cold room fit together tongue and groove along with a heavy-duty cams that you turn to lock the panels together. It is all a little reminiscent of assembling IKEA furniture. With the wall and roof panels secure, we had the condenser unit installed. Environmental laws are becoming more strict, so we decided to purchase a brand new unit to avoid any problems in the future. Now that summer heat has started to hit, the cold room is a wonderful place to go and cool off.
Every department and agency you can imagine will need a set of plans, sometimes multiple sets of plans. Here’s a partial list of who needs to approve a brewery: City Planning, City Building and Safety, County Fire, Local Water Agency, County Environmental Services and County Waste. After two rounds of notes back from the City of Santa Clarita and sign offs from all of these departments, our plans were approved. We have our permit and we can proceed with construction.
We hope you people are thirsty. Our new brew house clocks in at 2000 liters, just over 17BBL. That is just a little bit bigger than our 1BBL pilot brew system. The brew house consists of three vessels: a mash tun, a lauter tun, and a kettle/whirlpool tun. We will have plenty of hot and cold water thanks to a 4000L hot liquor tank and a 4000L cold liquor tank. In our cellar, we will have four 2000L fermenters and two 2000L brite tanks. Some of the other goodies on their way are: three centrifugal pumps, two VFD pumps, a hard-piped manifold, a heat exchanger, a yeast feeder, a hopback, a glycol chilling system, control panels, and a clean-in-place system. . We were able to do a little designing on our work platform for the brew house with a sink for sampling and cleaning on the control deck. This should make brew days a little easier and provide a cool drink of water for us on hot brew days.
It turns out that song is not about the State licensing process. Who knew? Here’s how we did it and it seemed to go pretty smoothly.
We made a call to Van Nuys office to get their counter hours. Then we went down there during those hours to meet with one of the ABC reps. When it was our turn we asked for every piece of paperwork we would need to have to make a complete and easy to process file. We stayed friendly and made sure to smile a lot. It seems that they do not get a lot of this sort of interaction at the counter. We went on our way and took time to fill out the paperwork and complete all of the necessary steps. Once we filed with the TTB we called for our appointment with the ABC to turn in our paperwork. This is key; do not wait for your TTB approval before starting with the ABC. It’s just an unnecessary delay. Here’s another hint; all of the ABC forms are available online as PDF documents that can be filled in on a computer. Do this and print them. Also, when you make your premises drawings, use a ruler and draw it to scale…neatly. When we walked in and handed them the paperwork they actually asked if we paid a lawyer to do the application for us. They said this was the most complete and professional application they had seen in over a year. The woman was so happy to review our paperwork that she had us done in about 15 minutes. Evidently, they get some crazy stuff. She even had someone come in with their drawings written on a napkin. People, come on! She sent us our poster in a couple of days and we posted it on our front door. At some point during the 30 day posting period they checked to make sure our poster was up and visible, so do not cheat this. Once the 30 days was up, we were done- pending TTB approval. Once we finally get that TTB sign off we let the ABC know, they will flip a switch to make us approved and we are good to go. Come on TTB…any day now.
December 19th, 2014. This is the day we submitted our paperwork to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). The TTB website says 90-110 days for approval. We’ll see how well that goes… Before submitting our paperwork we spoke with a consultant to make sure we had all of our I’s dotted. It’s a giant pile of paperwork and with everything else going on it was nice to have a little help. The TTB paperwork is something you can absolutely do for yourself. If you are thinking of starting a brewery and have a question, feel free to reach out and ask.
Once our Minor Use Permit was approved, we were allowed to take possession of our new space. When you hear 5,000 square feet, you think it’s a pretty big space. It is amazing how fast you can use up the space you have. Moving in was pretty uneventful, just a lot of lifting and carrying. We will use the space to brew on the pilot system while we wait for our approvals.
Opening a brewery is a lengthy process. Wanting to make use of that time, we ordered our pilot batch brew system relatively early in the process. The system we purchased is the 1BBL Alpha Ruby from Ruby Street Brewing. It is a three vessel brewing system with a HLT, mash tun, and brew kettle. We have sight glasses on both the HLT and the brew kettle, false bottoms on the mash tun and brew kettle, and a whirlpool arm on the brew kettle. The system has three propane burners, two pumps, and a plate chiller. All of the connections on the vessels, pumps, and chiller are equipped with 1.5” tri-clamp fittings. We use a spare arm assembly from MoreBeer to vorlauf and sparge. Along with the brew system we have two 1BBL stainless steel conical fermenters and a 1BBL stainless steel brite tank from Stout Tanks & Kettles. The fermenters and brite tank are designed to fit inside a Frigidaire 20.5 cubic foot upright freezer. We have brewed close to 400 gallons on the system so far and it works great. We dialed in our efficiency by the second brew. If you happen to buy a 1BBL Alpha Ruby and need some guidance on adjusting your grain efficiency and hop utilization then shoot us an email and we will help you out, particularly if you use BeerSmith since we can send you our equipment profile.