“Made progress, long way to go,” happens to be our catchphrase lately, but I guess it fits the typically encountered struggles of opening a brewery. Every new thing we accomplish seems to open the door to seven other things that need to be done. I naively imagined we would be up and running by March, easy-peasy. Serves me right thinking it would be that simple! As it is, I think we are seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Many important strides have been made and the equipment is finally coming together. Although it turns out that it was not a realistic goal to be brewing by now, February showed us many improvements!
One huge upgrade was for us to replace the threaded fittings (some modified DIN, plenty of NPT) with Tri-Clover fittings, so Ken from Iron Wolf Forge made a trip up from Racine to do the welding. Ken does sanitary welding on stainless steel, making sure that his work is smooth and leaves no bacteria traps, essential for a brewery. He does a great job, and we are grateful for his help! There was some prep work to be done, many holes to be drilled and pipes to be cut, and over 40 welds overall. Not bad for a weekend of work!
While our system came with many of the necessary larger components it was lacking in a lot of equipment needed to get everything connected and ready to go, and it has been quite a process trying to visualize the system as a whole and figure out what pieces we would still need. Additionally, it seems the system was upgraded bit by bit when it was being utilized down old New Zealand way, and as a result it feels pretty idiosyncratic. For example, of the five serving vessels only two actually match, and both our Hot Liquor Tank and Mash Tun are undersized. This isn’t crippling by any means, but it does force me to get creative with how I approach compiling an equipment list and also how I will approach our brewing schedule. Every time I go over the equipment I seem to learn something new about it or consider something that I hadn’t thought of before. It is good practice though, and thinking or over thinking it will hopefully lead to a less chaotic first brew day!
Seth Williams installed the first draft tower recently and it looks great. Seth has done a lot of work at the Gun Flint Tavern: rooftop, upstairs, and downstairs, and he always has an artistic vision to his work and does a really fine job. This tower is in the main restaurant, and Seth is currently working on upgrades to the downstairs bar, The Raven, which will feature its own draft tower. The silver conduit hanging from the ceiling houses the serving lines and glycol cooling lines that will run to the towers and bring you fresh beer right from the serving vessels. Sounds awesome!
I always get myself in trouble when I mention a date that we will be open (as sparingly as I have done!) so for now I won’t make any bold announcements, but once we get close enough I will for sure let people know. At this point it is hard to say when we ‘hope’ to be open because I hoped we would be open a long time ago! One thing I try to keep in mind, too, is that once the whole thing is ready to go we still have to wait on different inspections and state paperwork. So thank you for staying patient and for following us while we continue this long process! It is still super encouraging to hear people get excited about this endeavor and I appreciate everyones’ support a lot. Keep asking questions about the progress! Stop in, grab a beer, and give the brewpub a look!