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.