Brewery Expansion – Part I

If you’ve stopped by the brewery over the past three months, you might have noticed some changes. And, as you might have surmised, we are expanding. While normally we post our upgrades as they happen – with all the time and effort we’ve put into the big brewery expansion we’ve found it hard to spare the few hours to write them all up. So, over our next few posts, we’ll catalog what’s happened at the brewery, and what is still to come.

The big brewery expansion plan’s goals are fourfold:
1) To increase current brewing capacity & barrel aging program
2) Lay the foundation for future brewing capacity expansion
3) Increase brewing efficiency
4) Expand tasting room

The project was broken into several phases spread over several months. Most of our expansion is complete, but there are still some upcoming changes.

Phase I
Secure a new unit close to the brewery for increased dry and cold storage.

After months of searching, and trying hard to get the unit directly across the alley, we found a new place about a block away from the brewery off Zachery Street. The building, roughly the same size and shape as our brewery & tasting room, is a perfect size and shape for our storage needs.

Our lease started December 2012, and we quickly moved to utilize our new-found space and implemented phase II of our expansion.

Phase II
Move Dry storage to new unit to free up space in brewery and tasting room

As soon as the new unit was ready (nicknamed The Grainery), we started moving over all of our dry storage. This included our grain and grain racks that were sitting in the tasting room. We also moved over our keg washer and all empty kegs – all of which are now cleaned over at the new unit. Lastly, we moved over our workbench and all of our brewery odds-and-ends (spare parts, extra tools, etc.).


The Grainery – Post Move In

Combined, this opened up a lot of space in our tasting room which allowed us to expand seating (see Phase IV).

Phase III
Buy and install a second kettle to decrease brewing time.

One of the big limiters in how much beer we are able to produce is time. The less time it takes us to brew a batch of beer, the more we can make.

Every batch we brew, we double brew (two mashes, two lauters, two boils). After we finished the first lauter, the wort would sit in a holding tank until our mash-kettle was clear. This holding tank was insulated, but did not heat our wort.

With the second kettle, we no longer have to go into a holding tank. Instead we lauter into the new kettle and it heats our wort as we fill it. Believe it or not, this extra heating cuts our brew day by 5-6 hours. This saved time enables us to brew two batches on weekends instead of just one without killing ourselves.

Like a new ship, all new tanks in the brewery must be properly christened. It would be bad luck to brew in an un-christened tank, so right before we pumped our first wort into our new kettle we did it proper:

Phase IV
Expand brewery tasting room with tables, chairs & fancy lighting

One of the main goals of this expansion was to expand the tasting room with more tables and seating. We wanted people to be able to come in, sit down and relax while they have a brew. The increased table space would also allow customers to easily bring in some outside food – whether a sandwich from Custom Melt, some chips and salsa from home, or some pastries from Carrara’s.


So we asked Fireman Dave, who you may remember from such construction projects as Bathroom Upgrade II, Build a Brewery Bar and Super Work Day to build us up some tables for the tasting room in a style similar to tables Chris and Matt saw on their trip to Germany in Dusseldorf, home of the altbier. Stop on by the brewery to check them out if you haven’t seen them yet. Also, keep an eye out for Dave’s hidden Easter Eggs in his construction.


If you’ve stopped by during the evening after sunset – you also might have noticed that we’ve moved away from standard warehouse florescent light. The primary reason for this change is because florescent lighting makes Captain Chris depressed and angry. Not wanting him moping around the brewery, and because we wanted to provide a more enjoyable experience to our customers, we replaced these lights with soft lighting on dimmer switches over the bar – and accent lighting over the brewery.

new brewery lights

New lights above the bar

Phase V
Operation Frosty Box III – Move and expand fridge, buy and install new fridge

More difficult than Operation Frosty Box I & II combined, this was the most daunting task for the EBC. In one weekend we had to disassemble the entire fridge in the brewery, move it and all of our kegs to our new unit, rebuild the fridge at twice the size, hook it up and load with all of our kegs. Simultaneously, we had to build up a new, smaller, fridge in the brewery while still being able to serve beer to customers.

It was a long weekend with little sleep, but thanks to the help of some friends, the Brew Chief’s brother Mike, and a few patient customers who didn’t mind waiting a few minutes for us to finish installing the taps Sunday morning, the plan went smoothly.

The new fridge we installed in the brewery is just big enough to hold kegs, gaining us a lot of extra space – extra space for things like more fermentors.


The new, smaller, fridge in the brewery

Stay tuned for part II of this exciting brewery expansion review!

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One Response to “Brewery Expansion – Part I”

  1. Curtis says:

    That is christening done right!

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