Join with us on our adventure as we build East Alstead's first brewery and what is quite possibly the only off-grid commercial brewery in the United States. We feel that what we brew and how we brew it are equally important. If you would like to help out with this project, contact me at:

The Belgian Mare Says Hello!

Monday, October 11, 2010

A Finish to the Filling

Today Lonn finished backfilling the brewery foundation and did a better job than I ever could have with my little tractor.  He even used the boulder piles to make stone retaining walls for the cellar entrance.  Things look pretty nice right now.

I also made a trip to the sawmill today. I picked up the first load of lumber.  I had hoped to make a second trip but that did not work out.  However, I did get enough to frame up nearly all the first floor.

In the sad news department, one of the breweries I visited while I was forming the plan for our brewery has gone out of business.  They lasted about two years after getting licensed.  I remember that during my visit I noticed a few problems, though, at the time, they did not seem lethal to the brewery's success.

At the time of my visit, they had only been open about a month, but the owner told me that he needed to go back to his investors for another infusion of capital.  They had invested heavily in a temperature control system that had not been properly installed and thus had to lay out even more capital to get the system fixed. Most notably, that had only two fermenters and little room for adding any others.  That may have been their key weakness.

When interviewing brewers and brewery owners one principle emerged that nearly every interviewee touched upon.  This was the importance of fermenter capacity.  Big boilers are nice, but fermenter capacity was the bottleneck that determined a brewery's true capacity.  As one brewmaster noted, "Your boiler is tied up for 90 minutes or so, but your fermenters are tied up for anywhere from two weeks to six months. You don't want to be stuck waiting for a fermenter to open up."  The moral of the story: Have enough fermenters to enable production to keep going.  That is why we decided to spend the extra money to have a full cellar built.  I still sometimes wonder if we should not have built even bigger.

Learning from mistakes is best done vicariously so let us hope that I may avoid the pitfalls that some of my fellow brewers unfortunately stumbled into.

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