By Panther Island Brewing | February 4, 2014
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail to someonePrint this page

This brewery began nearly three years ago when co-owner Ryan became emboldened with enough holiday spirit to say “Why can’t we open a brewery?” He may have known the weight these words would one day carry, but there was no way any of us could have truly understood the weight until now.

We rented a small industrial warehouse in the beginning of 2012, decorated it as sparsely as three male musicians could, and began developing recipes. A few mistakes were made (just how many ounces are in a pound again?) and many thousands of lessons were learned.

Despite these lessons, and despite our regular time and sweat equity invested into the beer, we still didn’t fully understand what it would look like to brew on the scale we do now (or will soon, rather.)

Starting a Brewery

Our lineup changed dramatically in 2013 when some guys started families and some guys (one guy) said he wanted to invest. What started as six friends hanging out and brewing beer in a man-cave/warehouse soon evolved into a solid core group of four dudes standing in an 7,000 square foot expanse and wondering “What the hell did we just do?”

But let’s leave them there for a moment to discuss the difference between “knowing” and “understanding.”

When we began looking for larger buildings, Ryan and I would walk around the space once or twice and then begin mentally placing the brew system in the big, hollow rooms. And this was easy enough. The tanks, after all, are the most notable and recognizable part of any brewhouse, and they will take up the majority of the room.

This is something we know.

But tanks alone does not a brewery make. By themselves, tanks can’t do a damn thing without some infrastructure and logistics.

This is where the chasm between “knowing” and “understanding” is crossed.

Will the floor be able to withstand the weight of a heavy keg? Should we protect the floor with something? If so, what kind of material? Will there be proper plumbing run to these tanks? How much water is enough water? Is this water clean and free of any impurities, solid or microbiological? When the tanks are emptied, where will the sad bits of spilled beer and wash water go? Is there a trench drain? Is the floor sloped enough to catch it our should we do something else to protect our new floor? Will there be enough energy to heat the tanks when they need it? How much steam is needed, and, what kind of boiler can provide this steam? What if we need to cool tanks down, how can that be done?

We began to fully understand the weight of Ryan’s words as each of these questions became answered. (And those are only a fraction of the questions we have to ask ourselves when building a brewery.)

Let’s get back to those four gentlemen standing in their beautiful and open warehouse space with a view.

Tags: ,