There's an old adage about opening a brewery "Take your best estimate, double the time and double the budget". We managed to complete the renovation of our taproom in 2+ months, which often astonishes people - including the contractors who were a part of the process. We also came in remarkably close to our original budget estimate. We get so many nice comments about the Vicious Fishes taproom, we felt we should take a moment to thank and give kudos to the folks who made it all possible.
Jeff Jones Electric
Jeff came highly recommended by our neighbors at the quite awesome Texas Pit BBQ. When we first met Jeff, he told us he wasn't like the other guys. Lots of contractors are quick to tell you they can't do something or sling change orders like frisbees as a precondition to accept any adjustment to the original plan. As two guys who hadn't undertaken a project of this size before, it was really hard to understand and comprehensively articulate our needs at the start. Jeff has been soooo easy to work with. He shows up, works hard, is always in good cheer and is willing to collaborate to get to the best solution that meets our needs. Though I'm sure he was working on a number of other projects at the same time, we always felt prioritized. We could not recommend Jeff highly enough. Hey Jeff, one more thing....
In so many areas of residential and commercial construction, George has been there, done that. Heavy construction? Check. Concrete and hardscape? Check. Irrigation? Check. Demolition and hauling? Check. Check. George and his team initially helped us get our taproom drains in place by demolishing concrete and then re-pouring after our rough-in inspection. Then he designed our biergarten. And came up with a landscaping concept. And helped us figure out how to get propane to the fire pit. That he built. George is the man, guiding us to the best possible outcome based on his expansive experience. George is both a trusted advisor and the guy you want to grab a beer with. When we start our trench drains in the brew house, it's George and team we'll count on. And when it's time to toast to what's been accomplished and what's to come, it's George who will be standing shoulder to shoulder with us.
Langdon Pleasant, Hill Top Wood Shop
Langdon is responsible for the amazing tables in our taproom. If you've visited us already, yes, those tables. Certainly the most beautiful thing in our brewery and the things we get the most complements on. Langdon listened to our needs and scoured the Triangle for just the right timber that would achieve our vision to differentiate our taproom. Langdon is an excellent craftsman and a super nice guy; we were lucky to find him. Not sure what we're talking about? We'll have a post up this week with pictures and a video of the tables under construction.
Scott Zimmerman Plumbing
Plumbing? What's to get excited about plumbing? Well, in a brewery and taproom, the plumbing may be the most essential element. Try surviving a moment without an aorta or veins; the plumbing is the heart of the brewery. Scott's team, particularly Juan, was there when we needed them. In a couple of cases, that meant working on weekends. They blew through the work required to get us through rough-in. And when we were up against a (self-imposed) deadline and it was time for installing lines, vents, sinks and fixtures, Scott's team was there to make sure it all happened in a high-quality way and ahead of the inspectors we'd scheduled. Only call Scott if you need it done right, done expeditiously and done on budget.
Nathan Poissant, Ken & Sarah Michalski, Johnny Hardison, Southern Peak Brewery
I've never felt so comfortable and at home away from home as I do in the Southern Peak taproom. Nathan & Ken indulged this homebrewer's fantasy of living the dream by allowing me to brew with them this most recent December, even before we started down the path of opening our own brewery. I was so thankful and enjoyed the entire day. I remember saying "It will never happen for me...". Sarah heaped praise when we took 3rd in the NC Brewer's Cup for our "Depths of Helles" German Helles. They all fielded innumerable questions about everything related to taproom construction, supplier relationships, co2 delivery around the brewery. The list goes on and on. We can't thank them enough for their willingness to field hundreds of questions and allow us free reign of their taproom.
Whit Baker & Paul Wasmund, Bond Brothers Beer Company
Whit and Paul have been incredibly welcoming and supportive as we've started this journey. Even when we were nothing more than wannabes (and probably still are), Whit & Paul made us feel included members of a movement we had not yet joined in earnest when they invited us to an event they were holding for local brewers. Among hundreds of other questions, Paul helped us optimize our brewhouse layout to ensure good workflows for the brewing team we haven't yet hired, before we start cutting concrete. Whit, who is a genius in fermentation science, gave us encouragement and made us feel like our processes were solid and gave us confidence that we can do this. In a time where Bond Brothers is (arguably) the best brewery in the greater-Raleigh area and in such high demand that everything they make is sold through their taproom, they supported our launch by allowing us to serve three of their beers in our taproom. We have much love and appreciation for these guys.
Jennifer Martin, Shop Local Raleigh and organizer of Brewgaloo
I was introduced to Jennifer through a friend of a friend of a friend. She's responsible for organizing Brewgaloo, the largest craft beer festival in the southeast with more than 100 participating breweries serving over 30,000 people. Who are we? At this point, we're only aspiring nobodies :-) Jennifer made us feel important and welcome, set us up with a tent (gratis) that allowed us to have a venue to tell our story and share our dreams with our future customers. Later, she connected us with anyone she thought might have common goals or could help us in our quest. We're indebted.
Tim Reichert, Fainting Goat Brewery
I hazard to tell you how many pictures I have on my phone of Tim's taproom at the Fainting Goat. Between helping us understand how he built his beautiful and expansive concrete countertop, describing the peccadilloes of Wake County inspectors and public health and sharing his hardened practices for managing inventory and excise taxes, Tim has helped us understand what it means to effectively run a brewery and taproom. It was an honor to pull our first pint with Tim.
Cris & Jay at Metals Supermarket, Raleigh
We worked with Cris and Jay on the hot-rolled steel that clads our bar, its backsplash and the bar's foot rail. These were the finishing touches that made our bar stand out. These guys are extremely bright, really nice people and they made this part of the process easy to navigate with friendly banter, expert advice at a very reasonable cost.
Steve English, Barrel Culture Brewing and Blending
Like many home brewers, we’ve long been enamored with the idea of taking our brewing passion to a business. Our interest reached a fevered pitch late last year when we had the opportunity to sit down with Steve and discuss his plans to launch a brewery focused on fermentations using wild yeast and microflora. If you haven’t heard of Barrel Culture yet, you soon will. Steve and team are hands down the most exciting thing going on in NC brewing. When faced with the opportunity to pursue our dream, Steve provided staunch encouragement and support. He shared with us his excitement for our love of the emerging NE-style beers, views on how to construct a suitable operating agreement and ideas on how to come out of the gate with guns ‘a blazing with initial product that would build a buzz. I don’t know if we would have had the carpe diem approach if not for Steve’s optimism and belief that we could make it reality. I only wish we would have given more serious consideration to his idea to locate our brewery in the same building that will now host his. Ours seemed so very near to turnkey that we chose to focus there (and then executed a nearly 3 month renovation).
Jen has been a friend for a long time. She has experience as a brewery sales rep selling to off-premise accounts and retailers for a couple of notable area breweries (currently Bombshell, previously Fortnight). She's been on the other side of the coin leading area Beer Den stores within Lowes Foods. Has extensive hospitality experience leading bar staff and has directed Human Resources departments. We're grateful that Jen has graciously allowed us to lean on her expertise on a variety of topics, including how we should go about optimizing our bar layout to work best for bar staff during peak times, comparisons of different point of sale systems and ideas on how to attract and compensate a rockstar manager to run our taproom, bar staff and orchestrate events (more on that verrry soon).
Last, but certainly not least, Alex and I need to thank our beautiful wives and families for putting up with the all nighters, missed dinners, exhausted countenances and for supporting our dream.