Wednesday, July 1, 2015

How Time Flies!

Mea Culpa!

Can't believe that it has been almost four months since our last blog post.  Not to make excuses but we've been a bit busy.

To recap, since our last post we have:

  • received and installed our production brewhouse and associated cellar tanks;
  • chiller installed and tested;
  • glycol manifold installed, tested and insulated;
  • all the plumbing for our reverse osmosis system has been completed and is functional;
  • steam lines installed;
  • boiler installed and tested; 
  • water run through the brewhouse to confirm everything is working;
  • flexible auger system installed and tested;
  • installed safety rails;
  • walkin cooler installed and operational;
  • installed new bathroom fixtures;
  • removed all floor tile and installed new tile in office area;
  • Removed and recycled the old rail line next to our building and installed 3,500 sq. ft of sod;
  • Recycled several pallets of miscellaneous lumber with the help of the Central City Little Free Library Project (a great grassroots cause and we really look forward to doing more with them in the future and hope all of you will support them);
  • Painted until the very thought of a paint brush elicits a violent, visceral reaction; and
  • Swept, mopped, wiped down, vacuumed and then repeated till the cows came home.


So like I said we've been a bit busy.  What's even more exciting is the that we have increased the size of our ranks by two.  We are quite pleased to have brought Shane Glackin and Karl Menzer on board as the first two official employees of Second Line Brewing.

Our first employee, Shane hails from Northern Ireland by way of New York City.   Certified Cicerone and avid home brewer,  Shane refined his knowledge and appreciation for craft beer while working at such fine NYC establishments as The Dead Rabbit Grocery and Grog, the Swift Hibernian Lounge and Tørst.  The latter being a project of Evil Twin mastermind Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø.  Shane's considerable knowledge of craft beer, appreciation for the artisanal qualities of craft beer and uncompromising standards make him a welcome addition to Second Line Brewing.  

Locally grown and employee number two, Karl Menzer brings 20 years of brewing experience to Second Line Brewing.   Karl began his beer career with a home-brew supply store in Thibodaux, Louisiana.  From there he quickly transitioned to brewing for Lafourche Brewing Company, also in Thibodaux.   More recently, Karl has brewed for Tracks Brewing Co. in Toole Utah, Covington Brewhouse in Mandeville and Abita Brewing in Abita Springs.  Avid gardner, tinker, biologist and all-around mad fermenter, Karl brings a wealth of experience and unparalleled passion for brewing and craft beer to Second Line Brewing; frankly we couldn't be any happier. 

So what's next?

Well we have recently passed our inspection from the Department of Health and Hospitals and have a walk through from the Fire Marshal next week.  If all goes well then we will walk our state and local alcohol permits through their respective agencies, order up a bunch of ingredients and fire up the kettle in time to have beer in the tanks before the end of July.

In the meantime there is still plenty to do around the brewery.  We need to finish up installing the last of the safety rails (if you haven't figured it out by now, safety is kind of a big thing in a brewery),  run our compressed air/carbon dioxide lines, hang our fancy new insect-proof curtains on our roll-up doors, finish setting up the fermenters for the pilot brewing system, clean and passivate the brewhouse and cellar....and the list goes on.

In the meantime, all of us at Second Line Brewing are extremely grateful for everyone who has been so supportive of our effort to bring craft beer back into our beloved Mid-City.

Stay tuned for more soon.


Monday, March 2, 2015

Greetings Y’all,

It’s been a long time since our last post and we’re finally making great progress.  But before we brief you on our journey, we have some good news…..we've made our final payment on the brewhouse today and it ships next week!   The cellar and hot- and cold liquor tanks should follow shortly.  We can’t wait!

In our last blog (January 1st, 2015), we had taken physical possession of our building at 433 N. Bernadotte.  We submitted our permits to the City of New Orleans for the renovations shortly thereafter and that’s where we hit a bit of a wall.

The review process has taken longer than we anticipated, many of the reviewing authorities have limited experience with breweries and the various elements associated with making beer.  That said, we received comments from the City on our plans and have also been granted a “Foundation Release” that has allowed us to begin the concrete work for our brewhouse floor.  A small win but a win nonetheless!  With our first permit, the construction has begun!  

Our building already has a concrete floor but we elected to utilize a concrete foam system to pour a new floor on top of the existing foundation.  This approach has several benefits.  The first is that it

will allow us to leave the existing floor essentially untouched.  Secondly it will help dissipate the point load from our equipment so we don’t have to worry about exceeding the design tolerances of the original floors.  And lastly, it will also allow us to incorporate a 4” deep, composite trench drain system to facilitate drainage from the brewing area. 

In the meantime various pieces of equipment have begun to arrive.  Our 3-vessel, 1bbl pilot brewing system from Ruby Street Brewing arrived a few weeks ago.  The pilot system will be for recipe development as well as those one-off, crazy ass experiments that tend to evolve after a few tasty beers.  We’re looking forward to putting it to good use…think of it as a Second Line skunk works.

Our water system has also arrived.  Water is always an issue for brewing.  Almost every brewer has to deal with seasonal variations in their water supply.  If you connect to a municipal water source, then process changes, chlorination schedules, etc tend to introduce variables into water that we are just not comfortable with.  In addition, we’d like maximal flexibility when it comes to beer styles so we opted for a high capacity reverse osmosis water system.  We were fortunate enough to connect with Julio Torres at Wellness Water– he put together a spectacular system that should serve us well for years to come.

Our boiler is onsite too!  It’s a pretty massive piece of kit.  Donald Trosclair over at Bert Leavaeau Services was extremely helpful with selecting the right boiler for our needs and even offered a few key suggestions about how our boiler should be laid out (i.e. leave enough room to remove the heat exchanger…or you may find yourself having to move equipment in order to do so in the future).  We heeded Donald’s advice about oversizing our boiler so that we can accommodate our future expansion from a 2-vessel system to a 4-vessel system.  The latter should translate into a significant increase in productivity and greater control/flexibility of our production process.

The news keeps getting better!  We've received our Certificate of Label Approval (COLA), from the TTB, for our pale ale.  Now that we know exactly what the TTB is looking for, the submission for our IPA should be relatively straightforward.  Overall, the response time from the TTB is pretty damn good and they clearly understand that the quicker we get brewing beer, the quicker we start paying taxes.

Lastly,  I want to put in a good word for the Crescent City Homebrewers.  I went to my first meeting last week and they made me feel right at home.  Of course I shouldn’t be surprised, we are in the South after all and who could be more hospitable than a bunch of southerners who love all things beer?

Whether you are a newbie or an experienced brewer, the Crescent City Homebrewers offer a great place to learn, share and enjoy the art and pleasures of brewing one of the oldest and most humble beverages known to human kind.  Oh by the way, meetings are the first Wednesday of each month at the Deutsches Haus.  

Well that's all for now...  We look forward to sharing all that the coming months have to offer and soon that will include a cold and tasty Second Line beer.



Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year, updates and the United States Trademark Office

Hi y’all and Happy New Year,

It’s been awhile since we’ve posted and we thought you might like an update. 

Since our last post we have received our permit approval from the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB).  It was 91 days in the making, which is not too bad if you consider the current average application time is around 112 days.  Next steps include obtaining a local alcohol permit and a state manufacturers permit.

We’ve also taken formal possession of our warehouse and our renovation will begin on Monday, January 5th.    

While waiting to start renovations, I thought some of you might be interested in our experiences with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and the trademark process itself.  To date, we’ve filed two trademarks.  The first has been awarded a notice of allowance and the second will be published for opposition shortly.

The USPTO has an excellent website that clearly describes the trademark process and also allows you to search for existing trademarks and trademark applications.  The first steps in the trademark process involve determining whether you need a patent, trademark or copyright.  After determining what you need,  you must identify the nature of your mark (is it a logo, etc) and clearly define the goods/services associated with your trademark as described in the International Classification of Goods and Services for the Purposes of the Registration of Marks.

After that you’re ready to start searching the USPTO database to see if there are any existing or applied for marks that may overlap with yours.  Then you have to figure out your basis (have you been using the mark or are you planning on using the mark in commerce) before filing your application.

Once filed, the application is reviewed and if any issues are identified, an Office Action letter is generated (insert ominous music here).  If there are no issues identified by the examining trademark attorney, then you receive a notification that your mark will be published for opposition (the opposition period is 30 days from publication).  At this time you can also start the process of registering your mark internationally. 

After 30 days, if there is no opposition then you will receive a Notice of Allowance (NOA).  After that you are required to file a Statement of Use, indicating your use of the mark in commerce, within six months of your NOA.  If that doesn’t work with your timelines (i.e. it’s taking a while to get products rolling) you can always file for an extension.

For our first Trademark, Second Line Brewing, we hired a well known online ‘do it yourself’ legal service (I think most of you can figure out which company we hired).  It was pretty easy, we filled out the paperwork on their website and paid them a minimal fee and waited patiently for our trademark.  Much to our surprise, it was denied by the examining trademark attorney on account of a  “likelihood of confusion”.   It seems that a defunct restaurant in Florida had trademarked Second Line Café a few years back and the trademark examiner surmised that since some restaurants brew beer (i.e. brewpub) then there this might lead to some confusion on the part of the consumer.  The fact that we were a brewery and not a restaurant seemed to have little impact on the examiner.

Well it was a pretty disappointing piece of news - we had already invested time and money in our brand and didn’t want to risk rolling out our business with a name we couldn’t legally protect.  We know of several breweries (more than 3) that have gotten caught in legal battles over trademarks…  We picked up the phone and called our friends at the online legal service.  We weren’t too surprised when they couldn’t offer any help.

Fortunately, Mark did a bit of homework and starting looking through the Trademark Manual of Examining Procedures or TMEP.  It didn’t take long for Mark to find a very similar case referenced in the TMEP.  The case involved Blue Moon beer and a restaurant called the Blue Moon Café (you can read about it here:  

In this case the defense (i.e. Blue Moon beer) cited the number of brewpubs relative to restaurants to support their defense that brewpubs and restaurants are not synonymous.  Needless to say, Mark’s research proved worthwhile and we responded to the USPTO citing precedent from their own manual to support our trademark application.  And guess what, it worked!  No expensive lawyers, just a little bit of research and a carefully written response to the USPTO.

Building on our prior experiences, we have applied for our second trademark sans lawyers, legal services, etc.  This time the trademark is for one of our soon-to-be flagship beers.  The initial review was unopposed by the examining attorney and it’s currently making its way through the trademark process.

Quick note, when you file for a trademark you need to remember to disclaim frequently used words such as “brewery” or “beer” otherwise they will send you an Office Action letter denying your application until you correct it.  It’s not a deal killer but will unnecessarily delay your application.   

Next time Mark will bring you up to speed with our building renovations as well as the lessons we have learned from the TTB application process.



Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Something's Brewing in Mid-City

It’s back to the business plan…  Hi Y’all, we’re still making progress on the brewery.  We’re actually pretty close.  We applied for our permit with the TTB and they responded quickly.  They need several more questions answered and then we should be good to go.  We’re hopeful that we’ll get our permit soon.

We’re also close to taking possession of our building.  Once we take possession, we’ll begin the brewery build out and I’ll start posting some photographs as we make progress.  As I’ve mentioned in the past, our building is roughly 12,000 square feet and it has access from two streets with  North Bernadotte being the main entrance, this is also where the power, water and sewer tie into the building so we’re planning putting the brewery on that end.  Our engineering firm has given us a great idea on how to manage water without having to cut trench drains in the slab; it will be interesting to see how this works…  we’ll share more information soon.

I say it’s back to the business plan because we’re at the point in our startup where we’re going to be spending a lot of money.  It will be interesting to see how accurate we were when we put our rough estimation together.  For me, this will be one of the most important phases of the startup.  All of our numbers are based on a several important financial consdierations which are:

  1. Salaries and wages

  2. Insurance costs

  3. Legal and accounting fees

  4. Lease and utility deposits

  5. Supplies (office and such)

  6. Licenses

  7. Advertising and promotions

  8. Equipment freight and installation costs

  9. Equipment costs

  10. Raw materials

  11. Utilities

  12. Lease expense

  13. Contingency

The closer we’re able to get to the numbers we put together in our pro forma, the more likely we’ll be financially successful and sustainable.  It’s pretty easy to get distracted on the fun stuff, like brewing beer, drinking beer, marketing beer and dreaming big but ultimately, it’s the business plan that will guide us.  This is what our investors have bought into as well as our banking partner and the SBA.

Some of our plans have changed since we originally put together the business plan and we need to update it accordingly.  In addition, Mark has been diligent about getting multiple bids for equipment and for the most part, that has worked really well.  There are a lot of suppliers out there and there are even more sales people and depending upon who you talk to an how specific you are with your specifications and requirements, the pricing can vary by as much as 100%.

And, finally, if you’re wondering about our website, we hope to have it up and running soon.  While we may be beer aficionados, we are not website builders.  This has taken more time than we expected.  That said, we’re going to keep our website to the K-I-S-S model.

Cheers for now y’all and thanks for following us.  I hope you’ll be drinking one of our tasty beers in the near future…  If I haven’t mentioned this in the past, we plan to kick off our production with two styles of beer:  a pale ale and an IPA.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hi Y'all

I’ve been thinking about this blog and when we started we were focused on the business plan and financing and brewing great tasting beer. We’re at a totally different stage today which has caused me to reflect on the process as a whole for starting a craft brewery. No doubt, in a year, my thoughts will be extremely different again…

For those of you out there thinking about starting a craft brewery, now that we’re almost two years in planning, you need to think of the big picture and move beyond the business plan and financing but never go beyond brewing great tasting beer! The business plan was a huge tool for us and we’ll keep using it… and as far as financing goes, if you have a dream and you do your homework, the financing will fall into place. It did for us.. I hope this doesn’t sound shallow because we really worked our asses off to get where we are so perhaps it wasn’t all that easy. What really happened was people realized a few things, we’re hugely dedicated, we’re taking a big risk and Mark is a great brewer with a vision of perfection.

Here are some additional hurdles for you to consider when planning your brewery…

Finding the right location… local zoning ordinances can be a challenge. We were fortunate that Mark did an extensive amount of homework before we found our pristine location. In New Orleans there are certain areas of the City that actually exclude breweries from existing and in other areas, depending on the zoning, a conditional use permit may be required. If you need a conditional use permit, you have to have a public hearing with the City Council. The current zoning ordinances for the City of New Orleans can be found here:

So, you’ve done your homework on zoning ordinances and now you’re on the hunt for the perfect building. Are you going to rent or buy? For us, we opted to rent based on not wanting to tie up cash in the purchase of a property. Bank financed commercial property requires a 20% down payment. We did find a 5,000 square foot warehouse that we considered but making a substantial down payment with negative cash flow was not for us.

Gross lease of triple net lease – you should do your homework and determine what you can afford. With the triple net lease, you are on the hook for all of the maintenance, insurance and property taxes for the building. A commercial realtor will also have a hefty fees associated with your service and then of course, you’ll need your legal team to review any lease agreement before you sign on the dotted line.

Ok, so like us, you’ve found the perfect spot… what’s next. Well, what’s next is bringing the building up to snuff for opening a craft brewery. That is no simple task… will the concrete support the weight of the tanks, does the building a have a sprinkler system (required), does your space have enough parking spots? Are you planning on a tap room? I certainly hope so and if that is the case, is the property ADA compliant? Where are you going to place your boiler and CO2 tank?? Do you need an RO water filter and what about storage for all of your cooperage? How are trucks going to make deliveries and pick up your product? The list goes on and on… for us, we’ve decided to use an engineering firm to help us with these requirements. In addition, the folks who we bought our brewhouse from have also made some recommendations based on the footprint of our building. All the while, all of these folks answering your questions providing you with an invaluable service are expensive. You need to ensure you have enough cash and have budgeted enough to help you get your building up to code requirements. Oh, and in the meantime, don’t forget you have to continue to work on your beer recipes!

That said, we’re hoping to get our ducks in a row in the next month or two with production prior to December 31st! Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Cheers to that y’all,


PS - Steve Edwards, come for a visit!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

What's Happening Now!

It’s been awhile since our last post… we’ve been busy! We’re over a year into the Second Line project and we have learned a hell-of-a-lot! We first got the idea of opening a production brewery in New Orleans in May 2013. Since that fateful evening, we’ve had quite the journey and we are getting close to opening the brewery.

Since our last post, we have finalized our LLC Operating Agreement, received loan approval for our brewhouse from a local bank, ordered our brewhouse and have submitted our TTB paperwork. On top of the paper chase, Mark has had time to brew some test batches that have turned out to be quite tasty and we’ve applied for our trademark for one of our flagship beers.

If you are wondering what’s next, well we have some work to do on our building, we need to hire a couple of people and we need to get our website up and running. In the meantime, we’re still having fun, drinking great beer, and looking forward to selling our first beer.

More to come.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer fun!

Bienvenue Hopfools,

It’s been a busy and fun three weeks since we last posted. The big news is that we’re just a hair’s breadth from finalizing all of our financials and ultimately the purchase of our new brewhouse, fermenters, bright tanks, pilot system, walk-in, etc.

The basic elements of our taproom and brewery are starting to come to life on paper and we’re beginning to vet contractors in anticipation of starting construction.

Along the way I also managed to visit Ontario and spend some time with our friends Peter and Andrea Chiodo of the award winning Flying Monkeys Craft Brewery in Barrie, just outside of Toronto.

It was a great first visit to Barrie and I really enjoyed hanging out in the brewhouse with his brewer, Paul Buttery and the rest of the “monkeys”. This also gave me an invaluable opportunity to bounce around ideas about brewery layout, process workflow, standard operating procedures and equipment selection.

It wasn’t all just work and technical talk mind you. I also managed to take in a Blue Jays game (sorry Boston but your kung fu was just not strong enough) and the Toronto’s Festival of Beers as a VIP guest of The Flying Monkeys. The three-day festival was located close to Lake Ontario and this year over 60 breweries were represented. There was also a number of musical guests and I was lucky enough to be a backstage guest of the Flying Monkeys for k-os, a Canadian born rapper/singer.

There were some really great beer offerings and lots of intriguing taste profiles (I actually took notes). It’s really fantastic to see and experience such a vibrant local craft beer community and for me underscored the enormous potential for craft beer in NOLA, Louisiana and the South.

I also ran into Ginger Johnson of Women Enjoying Beer, at the festival. It was good to finally meet her in person and I was able to collect on the beer she “owed” me for helping with some questions she had last year regarding the health benefits of beer.

Overall it was a great week of beer geek fellowship, beer tasting and incredible hospitality, many thanks to Peter, Andrea and the rest of the flying monkeys!

Lastly, Karen and I recently went to dinner at MoPho only to run into the crew from Yalobusha Brewing Company. It was really great talking with Andy O’Bryan, Tony Balzola and Amos Harvey, comparing notes, talking beer and finding out that the light at the end of the tunnel isn't a train.  Yalobusha's offerings that evening included their Miss-iss-IPA and River Ale. The latter is billed as a pale pilsner owing to the predominant role of pilsner malt in the grain bill and it really worked great with my pho.

Well that’s all for now. Expect more news soon as we move along with making equipment purchases, renovating our space (located at 433 N. Bernodotte) and refining recipes.

Till next time thank you for all of your support, inquiries and patience as we continue our progress.  And of course, please continue to drink craft, drink local and drink responsibly.