Move in Day(s) Part 2

The forecast for delivery day (December 9 2014) was Polar Vortex-esque to say the least.  After meeting the night before with Bill, the owner of the rigging company, we decided to reconvene in the morning and see how things looked.  Considering it would be an all day affair, the smallest sign of inclement weather would make for a potentially troublesome and dangerous day.  That night sleep was not something I was lucky enough to get.  When I awoke at 4:30 am, I was only minutes early on the all too familiar and frequent chime of new messages in my inbox.  This one telling me the delivery that day was canceled.

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Phase converters for days

The decision came down from the top, the crane operator.  The roads would have been too icy for them to make it into Kent Hollow, and weather conditions too poor to safely operate in.  To make sure the next few days were not wasted, the work schedule in the brewery was quickly shuffled around to get the electricians inside working on installing all of our many panels inside and outside the building.  The farm only has single phase power, so phase converters are necessary to operate some of the larger motors involved in the brewing system.

If you consider the size of our brewery, the unloading and delivery method might be a bit unique; one usually reserved for breweries of significantly larger sizes.  You see cranes installing large 200 barrel fermentation tanks, brewing vessels through open roofs of some breweries, but rarely for a 15 bbl system and 30 bbl fermentation vessels, most of which only weigh 1,000 lbs each.  This is a job usually reserved for fork lifts and a boom.  Without the loading docks, indoor-outdoor fork lifts, and small space of operation the cranes became a must.  The decision would soon be made to reschedule the delivery for Friday December 12, past the additional unpleasant weather forecasts.

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Always listen to your crane operator, “Safety first!”

For the next few days I knew sleep would be a completely foreign concept to me.  Up until the point the tanks were upright and safely situated in the brewery, a sense of restlessness would linger.  Thankfully, the night before delivery our Farmer John was leading a hop farming workshop for CT NOFA at Two Roads Brewing.  Several Lil’ Heavens later, I was relaxed enough to be more excited than nervous about the morning’s delivery.  Thanks Two Roads!

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John talks hops, I enjoyed an IPA with a view of a much, much, much bigger brewery to calm my nerves.

Friday morning, I awoke without the slightest fog of heaven from the night before and quickly went outside to check the weather like a child would check beneath the tree on Christmas morning.  No sign of inclement weather, only the frost and chill of a winter morning.  Move In Day was on!  Shortly after, the construction guys would arrive and the site would be fully prepped for the tanks to be brought in.

Once moving the first tank began, it would be almost two hours until it was inside the brewery upright and in position.  Like many things, establishing the proper way to do things can take some additional time but when protocol is in place the rest of the operation runs very smoothly.  As someone who is very hands on in everything they do, it was hard to sit back and watch.

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Leave the equipment moving to the professionals: Bill Myers, owner of Mims Riggers. Call them for all your brewery install needs.

The day for me was much more about supervising than it was moving anything.  Those first two hours, watching the tank be positioned in different ways, the forklift maneuvering around it, the winch freeze up (literally) and need to be warmup before use, were quite tense.  The small of my back tightened with each and every move.

Up we go!

Up we go!

Finally, with everyone on site watching closely, the riggers stood the first fermentation tank upright I uncontrollably shouted “WHOOOO!” in a surprisingly high pitched manner.  The place froze up, everyone stared directly at me.  With only a smiling face of amusement and relief to answer them with a great sigh of relief and laughter swept through the crowd.  Soon after the next tank would be brought in and stood right up, and then the next, until all of the brewing equipment was in the building and safely positioned upright.  Except for the grist case, but that is the story for another post.   For now, press play and enjoy the short time lapse video.

 

Move In Day(s) Part 1

The last five weeks have felt as if the brewery blueprints have been bursting off of the paper they’ve resided on for so long and into real life.  As each piece of equipment is delivered and moved into it’s place the defining contrast of stainless steel tanks and oak barrels creates sense of purpose for which it has been designed.  Each ingredient offering familiar smells in concentrated amounts not experienced brewing on our home-brew scale pilot system.  For three years this brewery has been a labor of love, from the time pencil first touched paper on the business plan for a farmhouse brewery, through our zoning approval process, equipment selection, architectural and engineering designs for the building, and of course brewing and tasting!  The anticipation built up in that time is so great that it almost serves as a detriment to properly executing the “planning and building” phase.  I would do almost anything to bring in the brewhouse more quickly and solidify the transformation from an empty floor inside a barn like building to a full fledged farmhouse brewery.

Due to shipping times, the brewhouse delivery date needed to be determined a month in advance.  Making the decision to postpone the actual date when the system is within your reach is not an easy one.  However, due to ongoing construction dust from sheet-rocking and completing exterior site work related to installation of our waste water tanks it was a decision that needed to be made.  The risk of construction dust finding it’s way into one of the many small valves, gaskets, ports, and pieces that make up the brewery does not nearly justify the need for immediate gratification.  My folks taught me well.

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Not to mention there are some holes for our wastewater tanks that needed to be filled in before the brewery shows up.

In the meantime, we were glad to have had the cold room installed to give us a safe, dry, and insulated space to store our other incoming deliveries.  In my last post about Local Malt I discussed the use of Connecticut grown barley that is being malted for us at Valley Malt for use in Field Beer, a seasonal saison focusing on ingredients grown in the area.  

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Farmer John takes the pallet of Valley Malt off the truck and on it’s way to the brewery.

After putting so many hours into sourcing local ingredients, seeing grain grown in our state, malted just a few hours away in Hadley, MA make it’s way into the brewery is a tremendously gratifying moment.  Knowing that this will be a recurring event, each and every month moving forward increases the drive to increase the acreage devoted to barley in CT, and get closer to meeting all of our demand with local grain!

 

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Welcome home

With the brewhouse delivery being delayed a few weeks, our first order of wine barrels were now scheduled to be delivered on the same day as the brewhouse.  One disadvantage to opening a brewery up in Kent Hollow compared to an industrial center, is the lack of parking, driveway space, and loading docks.

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Our pond makes for a idilic delivery scene

Lucky for us, the shipping company delivered the barrels a day early and we were able to avoid unwanted craziness.  So into the “cold” room they went!

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Sixteen wine barrels and 1900 lbs of Connecticut Malt wait patiently to get into the main brewery floor

On Monday December 8 the brewery was shipped from Prospero’s warehouse in Pleasantville, NY to Mims Riggers in Bethlehem, CT for delivery to our farm the next day.  Due to the layout of the farm driveway and all, we had to hire a rigging company to bring in and setup the tanks in our building.  That night, after sitting in their office going through inventory of what was delivered, which pieces go with what equipment and the placement for each in our brewery, I returned to the farm with only one last thing that could stop delivery in the morning:  WEATHER.

To be continued.