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!

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Tun Of Fun & A Real False Bottom

The morning dawned cold and windy, but stayed clear.  I didn't mind the cold and wind as long as things stayed clear.  I had help coming over to move the mashtun stand into the brewery. The last thing I needed was rain and/or snow pelting us as we moved 300 pounds of steel up the ramp into the brewery.  Getting the mashtun stand moved inside and the mashtun in place were the last big equipment-related tasks the brewery needed.  I wanted to make sure they got done before the stand was frozen to the ground and buried under the snow.

Just before the crack of noon my help arrived in the form of my paramedic friend David and his teenage sons Connor and Devin.  David, being an old New Englander, was sporting his insulated Carhartt bibs and fleece jacket.  Devin was modeling his new winter shorts.  For his part, Connor was showing off his new high-tops with 80's RUN-DMC-style giant protruding tounges.  The memories came flooding back.

Not wanting to stand around and get freeze-dried, we went straight to work.  David's sons, being tough no-nonsense types, dispensed with gloves and stepped right in and grabbed the giant metal rack with their bare hands.  These are tough kids.  Slightly shamed, the two old guys in winter clothes each grabbed a corner. By this time Tracy had joined us and she held the door while the four of us wrestled the iron monster into place. Once we cleared the entry, we tipped the rack into the upright position then slid it to its new home next to the boiler. Success!

Now all that remained was to lift the mashtun onto its new rack.  The brewhouse has a good bit of room, but it was still a tight fit to get five people ranged around the mashtun and lift it into place.  I am not sure how we managed, but we did and the mashtun dropped into place on its new rack.  Actually, it didn't drop into place. It got wedged on the angle irons and we had to wiggle things a bit, then it crashed into place.  Success!

A tun of fun:  The mashtun and rack in place.

As David & Sons had not been out to the brewery in a while, they wanted to see the cellar.  So we headed around back. After a quick tour of the cellar, I noticed both Connor and Devin had turned a pale shade of blue that was deepening to an emerald hue before my eyes.  Aware of their immunity to low temperatures, I deduced that they were in an advanced state of hunger from having not yet eaten lunch.  Knowing I would probably require their services in the future, I thought it best to thank them and send them on their way before full on starvation set in.  David wished to stay a bit longer, enjoy the fresh breeze and sunshine, and discuss Aristotelian politics.  However, he too noticed that his two sons were looking a little hungry and thought it best to get them back home.

So with a round of thank-yous and a wave the Hogan clan went on their way.

Later, just before sunset, I would have some time to get started on the false bottom for the mashtun.  I am constructing this of top grade white oak with stainless steel fittings.  It is not done yet, I need to drill the drain holes, but it is already a real beauty!


The real false bottom, ready for drilling!

Sunday, November 17, 2013


With the federal forms having been submitted, finishing up the brewery has been the focus.  This week racks were the order of the day.  Mash tun racks and fermenter racks to be exact.  On Saturday morning we picked up the mash tun rack from the welder.  Perley did an excellent job.  The rack is very sturdy and more than adequate to the task of holding the mash tun.  All it needs is a couple coats of paint and it will be ready to go.

The new mash tun stand ready for painting.

The next task was building the rack for the fermenters. Since we are still not sure exactly how we want to configure the fermenters, I only made the rack large enough to hold two fermenters.  That way we can work out exactly how we want to set things up then build a rack that runs the whole width of the cellar. 

The fermenter rack in place in the cellar.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Paperwork & Reflections

The federal paperwork is in!  Now a little time to relax the eyes, then move on to the state side of things. We are by no means done yet, who knows what glitches could still arise in the paperwork process, but it feels good just to have something in.  I am also trying to finish up on the last of the construction (tank racks, etc.).
So I still have a lot to do before we are selling brew, but we are getting closer and can finally see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel.

I was reflecting on the whole process that has lead us to the point where we now stand with the brewery. As I was gathering up documents for the federal side of things, I found copies of my first email interactions with the TTB and the NH Liquor Commission, from February 2009!  It is hard to believe how long it has been since this all started: the day when I brought home a copy of "Farmhouse Ales" and Tracy started reading it and said, "We could do this."  So it began.

It has been a long journey, but, overall a good one.  There were definitely times we both wanted to throw in the towel, but we kept on going.  Neither one of us relishes the role of being one of those "You know, I always wanted to..." types.  Along the way we have made many new friends and my carpentry skills have improved greatly!  Soon, we hope to have all our new and old friends over for a grand opening!  We will let you know when that happens...