Some of you may have come across a story written by Greg Clow of Canadian Beer News. If you live in Canada and you are serious about beer, you should be checking his website on a regular basis. Click here to link with our story and Canadian Beer News. His article focused on Strange Fellows operations and what our full floor plan will look like when complete.
I have included both the layout we have moved forward with as well as the side profile of the space, so you can get a sense of the way our operations will look. Not unlike anything else we put out there, things will change somewhat as we move ahead; however, 90% of what is on paper here will be represented in our build-out at the space. Once you commit to submitting building, electrical and mechanical permits, you are also committing to what you have on paper. So in other words, the size of a window in our tasting room that overlooks the brew house may get bigger, but we have committed the location for the bathrooms, the trade waster interceptor and the trenches.
We have allocated a total of $12,500 for permits throughout this process. I have blogged about them a little bit under The Process of Starting a Craft Brewery, subcategory X: Government Stuff. There are lots of permits you need and getting them all in a timely manner is important. To be honest, the process of preparing for permits and approval is one of the keys to getting this process right. In short, for your business to move forward you need to submit for your permits in a timely manner, with information that is well thought out, thorough and correct. Changes or missed steps here will cost you down the road. Read more about permits at the page linked above (and I will add more details in the next week).
Anyhow, coming full circle here, our floor plan was a real labour of love. Like any decisions you make with a partner, there is give and take. However, when you add in an architect, mechanical and electrical engineers, a general contractor and your finances, you get a mish-mash of opinion and information. You can never make a decision without effecting every other decision you have made in the past, and every other decision you will make in the future.
Some of the keys when creating a floor plan are as follows:
- Keep everything as central as possible. The longer runs you have for any electrical or mechanical, the more cash you will bleed. For us, moving our main electrical panel 10 feet saved us $3,000. So you can see that small changes can make a big difference.
- Plan for the future, but prioritize getting to day 1. It is important to think a couple of steps ahead here, at least that is what I have heard from other breweries, but don’t lose sight that you need to get to day 1.
- Look to save money at every step. Ok, maybe you are better at this than I am, but we are in full cash saving mode, and we feel like we have been for a long time. Any chance we can save money on something, we are doing it.
- Tasting room and Retail area. A huge part of all these breweries starting up in Vancouver is the ability to sell your products from your business. It takes what was once an impossible task, and makes it so much more realistic of an opportunity. So make sure you design a space that works for your brewery. For us we wanted something intimate, open to the brewery, and simple.
- Work with sub trades early in the process. You don’t have to pick who you are working with, but bouncing plans off them will give you real world answers to questions you have. It was also help you find savings and efficiencies in your space.
- Another dilemma on decisions. You can have things done quickly, you can have things done for your budget, and you can have things done inline with your dreams, but at best you will get 2 of these things, but most of the time you will only get 1 of these things. What will you pick?
- Call the room where you mill your grains a “grain cracking room”. Trust me on this one, it will save you a bunch of headaches at the City
- Depending on if you are focusing on production or focusing on tasting room/retail sales, your layout may be different. For us, we are a production brewery first, so the layout and design of the space tried to take this into account as much as possible. Process workflow, material in and material out, future expansion are all important to us, and are reflected in our space.
- Keep your cooler close to the tasting room. Iain has so much experience with this kind of thing, that he is adamant that these 2 things need to be connected. He talks about the shorter the run of lines, and being able to connect our taps to tanks instead of kegs will save us heaps of time.
What really gets us excited about our space is the connection between the tasting room and the brewery. When you are sitting in our tasting room, you will quite literally be 10 feet away from the brewhouse. Want to watch Iain add hops to a brew, just sit back enjoy your beer and watch from your perch. You will also be able to have a first hand view of the barrel storage area, which we think is a really cool thing. We also think the art gallery will add a nice connection to the local community, and we hope the growler and retail area will have good process flow so as to not back-up too much.
As I have always said, Iain is really good with this kind of thing, so if you have questions about how to lay your brewery out, feel free to contact us. At the end of the day, follow your instincts on the way things should be. Whether you have experience with this kind of thing or not, make sure you follow what you would want as a consumer. You will deal with enough people along the way that aren’t into craft beer (like contractors, architects, etc) that their opinion will help to balance yours out. Stay positive and you will find the way.