Over dinner with a friend recently I mentioned that we had just ordered kegs for the brewery. 500 stainless steel kegs delivered to our doorstep is going to cost us thousands. (Take heed breweries in planning. You need to budget big money for your own fleet of kegs, or use a keg rental service. The distributors and bars definitely don’t provide those for you.)
My friend raised his eyebrows at our keg order. “So you must have gotten your Federal Brewer’s License back.”
“No,” I said. “Our application has been in for months. Still waiting.”
“But you have your wet zoning?”
“Not, exactly,” I explained, “We got a unanimous ‘yes’ vote at the first hearing, but there’s one more hearing to go.”
“Well, you’ve at least got your permits to build this brewery, right.”
I shook my head. “Not yet.”
His eyes widened. “What the hell are you doing buying 500 kegs when you haven’t been approved for anything, yet? What if they deny you? Are you insane?”
I had to laugh. Anyone who starts a brewery must be a little insane. Every new brewery spends months, sometimes years operating only in the mind of the lunatic start-up brewer while he or she advances huge sums of money and effort to make it materialize. It can’t be done any other way.
Take the federal brewer’s license. It’s illegal to have a brewery without one. But you can’t get one until you have a functioning brewery. You simply cannot get pre-approval. You just have to build a brewery and hope for the best.
Similarly, you can’t ask the city council to wet zone a potential property just in case you pick that location to start your brewery. No, you have to pick a space, ask nice and cross your fingers. And you can’t get permits to renovate until you’ve picked a building and produced detailed plans of what you’re going to do, by which point you’re almost certainly committed beyond the point of turning back.
And once you commit to buying some brewing equipment it may take up to a year to arrive, so you’d better not wait until your space is totally ready before you make that commitment unless you want to be twiddling your thumbs and paying rent in your finished brewery building for over half a year waiting for your equipment to come in.
So, no. We don’t technically have a brewery, yet. But, yes, we’re ordering kegs. And we’ve already ordered brewing and packaging equipment, and contracted for hops and other raw materials and signed a lease and done lots of other irrevocable stuff that’s sounds alarmingly risky to most sane people. We’re still waiting on our Federal Brewer’s License, wet zoning, and construction permits, but we have faith that we’ll gather all the necessary paperwork over the coming months.
We’re inching closer. This insane dream may soon become a reality.
I almost forgot. Progress update:
- We passed the first city council vote for wet zoning to sell beer on the property last week. The second vote should be coming up in a couple weeks. So far so good.
- Our very own Dave Iwansky just turned 40! Man, he’s old.
- Casey, our Brewmaster, just finished a collaboration brew with Green Bench that will go on tap in their tasting
room, soon. I hear it’s an IPA chocked full of Citra called Across the Bay IPA.
- A band called Stages and Stereos shot a music video in our tore up old warehouse the other day. We had fun drinking beer with them before the shoot. We wish them well on the new album.
- We’ll be serving beer at Richard’s Run 5k the evening of Friday Nov. 1. Sign up now. (You can even skip the run and just hang out at the finish line party with us.)
That’s it for this update. We’ll be heading west next week for the Great American Beer Fest in Colorado. More updates soon.