Rolling with It

We're learning a ton as we get closer and closer to opening. This means successes and setbacks, as well as a lot of stress when trying to make all the pieces come together.

6 months ago   •   3 min read

By Scott Johnson
You can't direct the wind, but you can adjust the trim of your sails.
- Cora L. V. Hatch

We've learned that starting a business involves successes and setbacks. Unfortunately, one of the setbacks we experienced was that our equipment has been delayed yet again, now with an arrival date of early June (with anticipated additional delays, since the ports are 50+ days out from loading it on to ground transport). When we received this news, the executive team had to make a decision on what to do to overcome this, since we didn't want to push back our opening date that far.

We knew at the onset that this was a risk, and we discussed it at length before deciding on a manufacturer from overseas. However, stateside manufacturers were 12-18 months out from delivering a brewing system. Many of them actually aquired their goods from overseas, as well, so we'd still be in the same boat (no pun intended), had we went with one of them.

As a result of this discussion, we decided to purchase a set of "temporary" equipment that we can use to brew beer, at least until our new, fancy, custom-designed system arrives. This is a used, 4-barrel system made by Specific Mechanical that we purchased from a brewery in Champaign, IL. Over the last two weeks, we've gotten it shipped to Savage, placed it in the area(s) we need it to be, and started connecting all of the parts to get it operational. We've nicknamed our new system "Warthog", for the time being. It's not the sanctioned term, just something we've been kicking around the office.

Our brewhouse - Boil kettle (left), mash tun (right top), and hot liquor tank (right bottom)
Our fermentation vessels (silver) and brite tanks (silver, with copper trim)

A special thanks to Brandon Welsh and Riley Dingman, for helping us unload and set up this equipment. That was definitely no easy task. Also thank you to Jay at SmartMoves for loading our equipment in Illinois, and to Toni and Kraig at Alpi World for helping us get it from Illinois to Minnesota.

While this is a win, it's also highlighted a couple of areas that we hadn't anticipated would be significant areas of concern. One such area is that the estimate we originally received for the installation of the steam boiler to power the kettle was given by an individual that underestimated what we wanted them to do. This resulted in them not being able to perform the work we wanted, and, subsequently, we had to find another contractor to perform this work (at a much higher cost). The good news here, though, is that we're pretty confident that the contractors we've now hired are qualified to perform the necessary installation(s) and the system will be operational very shortly.

We also received our tap towers from our supplier in New York, so these too will be installed within the next week. We're a little disappointed in the towers themselves - the company that provided them did not make them the way we wanted. They do look nice, but we're disappointed with their level of customer service and lack of attention to our initial requests, especially given the price we paid for them.

One of our tap towers, with recessed drain trays in the bar top

One cool thing to note is Amy has been designing tap handles out of the leftover walnut from the bar. She's made some pretty cool designs that will pop with our bar top. There's a sample in the image above, but, for the rest of them, you'll just have to wait to see them.

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