We Can Taste It!!
Over the last few weeks, we've wrapped up work in the taproom. We're so close to launching that we can taste it! This most recent weekend, we hosted a couple of friendly groups to help us get our sea legs under us.
Below are Paul, Ken and Andrew goofing around in the taproom entryway this most recent Saturday night.
In the last post, we'd poured the concrete bar countertop and started to clad the bar in the acid-etched hot-rolled steel. We then moved to clad the entry way wall in barnwood.
Our tables arrived from Hilltop Wood Shop and they're absolutely gorgeous. We'll have another post on their construction soon.
Try as we could, we couldn't finish the taproom in time for the HALF Homebrew Club's Q1 Competition. Even so, it was exciting to be able to show off our progress to our friends. Congrats to Josh Evans for taking the Q1 title with an excellent Farmhouse Ale that underwent a decoction during the mash. Josh used to brew professionally and it definitely shows.
Based on our progress, we hadn't planned to sell anything (especially beer), but Jaime bought a Vicious Fishes magnet, which was our first dollar earned. Thanks, Jaime!!
After the crowd left, the next step was to put a coat of food grade epoxy on the bar to seal it. Cris from Metal Supermarkets in Raleigh also came out and drew out in chalk the layout and materials needed for our bar's foot rail. She had recently helped set up Brice's Brewing in nearby Garner and her counsel in what we needed was invaluable.
It's time to get our taps installed. First, we glued the hot rolled steel backsplash to the wall. Then, we had to locate the center of each tap and drill through. I was nervous about making a mistake that would ruin the backsplash and send us back to the drawing board. I drilled a pilot hole for each tap through the backsplash from the rear while in the walk-in cooler. We then eye-balled each to make sure they were centered and then drilled holes back through from the front. After a lot of walking back and forth between the inside of the walk-in cooler and the tap room, all the holes were cut.
With the holes ready for our taps, I broke all the faucets and shanks down and cleaned and sanitized them before assembly.
They look awesome once installed!
With the taps in place, it's time to get the co2 regulators connected. The box that the shanks are drilled through was fabricated for us by the team at Steel Works & Supply. We're neighbors just a few buildings apart and Jeff donated the shadowbox to help us get off the ground. We really appreciate their support.
We first installed the regulators on the cooler's wall.
And then connected them to our co2 supply. Fortunately, we had the benefit of being able to see how the Bond Brothers Beer Co co2 supply had been professionally set up, so doing it ourselves was feasible and saved us thousands of dollars. We can't thank Paul, Whit, Jeremy and Jay enough for all the advice and support they've provided along the way. They're all awesome guys in addition to being acclaimed the best new brewery in the country, according to USA Today.
Next, it was time to install barnwood around the backsplash. We wanted to integrate the taproom's entry and the bar together and the use of barnwood seemed like a good approach.
About this time, our roll-up garage door arrived from where it was being manufactured in Texas and the guys at our neighbor Passport Doors installed it. We previously wrote about wanting to create a sense of openness between the taproom and brewhouse and the glass panels in the garage door were just the ticket.
I snuck out to the brewery for a few hours on Easter. Here's the barnwood surround all in place and ready for a couple of TVs to be hung.
When the concrete for our patio was poured, George Llanes' team plumbed in for gas to be delivered into a future fire pit. Here it is being built. The vertical blocks are a cool design element that George came up with.
Here's the biergarten staged with fire pit, picnic tables and a few chairs.
Next, Alex installed cables between the posts so we could hang lights. We might even plant hops to grow up the posts and along the cables.
Here's the bar foot rail getting installed. Next time you're in, be sure to ask Alex how much fun it is to hammer drill into concrete.
Here's a second coat of epoxy applied to the bar. Things are really starting to come together
Our t-shirts came in!
Jennifer at Shop Local Raleigh offered us the opportunity to have a tent at Brewgaloo, the largest beer festival in North Carolina with over 100 breweries representing and more than 30,000 people attending! We are so grateful to have had an opportunity to tell our story and start to create some awareness of our impending launch.
Here's my daughter Hannah holding down the fort.
We're putting together the finishing details on our taproom. Alex left home at 4am to purchase barrels from Wicked Weed in Asheville. These barrels previously were host to Wicked Weed's delicious barrel aged sours. They're soon to become tables, merchandising containers for t-shirts, flight glass holders and other decorative items
Here's Alex trying to move the barrels into place. This was the last hurrah for the scissor lift we'd rented a month back.
We're entering the home stretch. The refrigeration on the new walk-in cooler was the last thing to get taken care of by our partners in the trades. Here's Donnie from Element HVAC getting us closer to cold beer.
Now that we've got a cold cooler, it's time to fill it with delicious beer. Whit and Paul at Bond Brothers set us up with three half barrels of their amazing beer and even let us borrow their Micromatic keg cleaning canisters. Can't thank them enough.
Jennifer at Shop Local Raleigh set us up with some excellent beers that remained behind after Brewgaloo. Including a half barrel of Bhramari and sixtels from Preyer and Ironclad. We seem to be building a taplist of excellent and eclectic North Carolina beers.
Another trip out to pick up the half barrel of Burial that Jennifer had arranged for us.
While we weren't quite ready to open the taproom to the public, we were excited to host my co-workers for an afternoon party. Here's the firepit right before it was connect to the gas.
Once I got the kegs back to their new home, I installed and connected all the beer and gas lines.
The same day, our sign was being installed into the pylon that hosts a couple of our neighbors, Texas Pit BBQ and Dominos. We're super excited about this sign as we expect driving awareness is going to be one of or biggest challenges to solve.
We're nearing the goal line. Here's my wife Ruthi helping us by mopping the entire house in 90* weather.
Well, we're reaching the culmination of almost 3 months' work. Here's the finished taproom ready to host a crowd.
As I was furiously working to prepare for Friday's "soft" opening, our good friend Tim from the Fainting Goat Brewery stopped in to check our progress and offer any help he could provide. I had just finished setting up the taps, so I got to pull the first pint out of the new system with Tim.
Ruthi got to the taproom after work right before we opened our doors Friday night. We took a minute to make a quick goofy video
Here's the crowd from our soft opening. Much fun ensued.
The taproom is very kid friendly.
Our friends out to support us.
Ruthi and I mugging for the camera
Group shot with friends Saturday night
Ruthi enjoying a Bond Brothers Sorcery with Black Currants and Cherry after her shift was done behind the bar.
The fire pit got an inaugural lighting
After the taproom closed for the evening on Saturday, Ruthi and I recapped over a beer in our biergarten. Steve English of the soon to launch Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending gifted us a bottle of Hill Farmstead Abner that he and his wife Holly picked up on their recent excursion north to scout for New England's best beers. The rating at that link is not a typo, 100 points. Thanks so much Steve & Holly!!!
After this amazing weekend, we know the hard work so far has been worth it. As we look to the future, our glass is definitely half full.