It seems like I have been knee deep in the process of starting a brewery, that I have neglected to update the readers on our progress. From the brewhouse to tanks, and forklifts to logos, there is a lot happening at the brewery, and the level of activity seems to have picked up. In addition to the office and administrative items that have kept us busy for the past 6 months, you can add in the retrofit of our space to things to do.
For starters, Iain Hill has officially left his position at Yaletown Brewing Company to join operations full time. For several months Iain has been burning the midnight oil after a long day at the office, and he now has the ability to focus on starting our brewery, which is amazing on many levels. Finding a brewery (and in my case a business partner and equal) is a huge step in the process of starting a brewery. Its one thing to be a home brewer like many of you. You understand some of the components of brewing beer, and you have experience with the lingo and terminology, but its entirely another thing to be in charge of a commercial brewery. With a qualified partner, the beer we make will be of good enough quality that it will offer us a chance to have success. If you want to follow Iain Hill on twitter, his account can be found here.
We have sent out tenders for our warehouse to electrical and mechanical contractors. This has been a bit of a process for us. When you apply for building permit, you have a sense of where things are going to go, and this is reflected in the drawings your architect prepares for you. However, when it comes to the technical details of these aspects of the brewery, you engage with mechanical and electrical engineers to complete these drawings. Getting the details correct on these drawings is critical to getting accurate quotes from trades people that will be doing the work. If you hand over a set of drawings for tender and they change immensely, you will get dinged for additional expenses throughout the build-out phase. My advice would be to push ahead with these drawings at every opportunity, so that when you get your building permit, you are not at a standstill like we were. We will literally lose a month from our possible start-date as we were not ready the next step.
Doing things in the brewery that don’t need a permit is also something that is very important. We have decided to paint the inside walls of the brewery with a marine grade paint, to keep mould from becoming a problem. Well painting a house is a job, but painting 6 metre high walls in a brewhouse that is 9,000 square feet is a little bigger of a job. This is something that we really should have started earlier as well, but given the delays in getting started with the rest of the work, we will have this finished within the week. Once the walls are painted we can move forward with cutting floors open, and getting our brewery ready for building.
If you ever need advice on buying a forklift, I can tell you that we had a great experience and I would love to share it with you. At the end of the day, when you are spending so much money on everything at a brewery, trying to save money on items like forklifts can go a long way. We managed to save about $5,000 against our budget, and while that will get sucked up quickly elsewhere, the point is you need to save money when and where you can. We had a budget of $10,000 for a forklift, charger, and man cage (for doing work on the ceiling of the brewery). After about 30 hours of work, research and seeing what the options were, we purchased an electric forklift that will hopefully meet all our needs for now and into the future. Sure we might have to spend money on repairs, but we are not going to lose much money on this machine as it already has depreciated to nothing. If you are looking; side shift, electric drive, 40 inch forks, 180 inch lift height, and a smart charger that is compatible with your machine are all must haves.
In terms of the voting on our logo, it looks the voting has ended up at 50-50! After all that, we have a divided opinion on what we should be going ahead with! As such, Iain and I are going to meet and make a decision on what we should move forward with. We look forward to making a decision so that we can move forward with other aspects of our marketing.
Our landing page for the website should be up and running in about a week. I know there has been delays (like everything it seems), but we hope to have an interesting landing page that will continue with giving everyone a sneak peak into starting a brewery and our operations. More to come on that front shortly.
I have found an individual that has helped me with odd jobs at the brewery so far, and I would recommend to anyone else who is looking at starting a brewery, to find someone with some technical background in general labour … what I mean is find someone to help you that can do some electrical, plumbing, painting, heavy lifting, etc. We have found a man to help us, and he has been a saviour for us.
From an equipment standpoint, we have ordered our brewhouse and we are very close to ordering our packaging equipment and conditioning/fermenting tanks. We are trying to determine exactly packaging equipment we want, as the choice we make will help determine our entry point into the market. If you go cans, you come across as more of a middle of the road company. If you go with bigger bottles (650ml) then you come across as more of a craft operation. So we are wrestling with what exactly to do, and I hope we can make a decision in the next week. As for the tanks, we are grinding the suppliers on their price, and hope to get our ideal package within our budget. We think it is better to go a little bit smaller on the tank farm, knowing that you may run out of capacity quickly, than spend all your money on equipment and have very little left over for everything else.
Thats it for now. Should there be anything else you want an update on, as always, let me know and I will include it for my next blog.