A lot of folks have asked me if I’m still getting out on my bike during this whole setup phase of the brewery. As many of you know, I was (and still am) a very avid cyclist. I’ve got way more bikes than I really need in the garage, and the last several years have led me to compete in a number of endurance races on my mountain bike.
As of late, the biking has diminished significantly, but I’m still getting out a couple days a week. In fact, last weekend I even (last minute) signed up for the Bear Jaw Groove, and although I only did 6 laps (amounting to just over 50 miles), I still had a good time and peeled myself away from the brewery for a bit.
As I was out there riding, I started thinking back on the last few years of biking and all the training I put into it. I really actually enjoyed the training rides, as they always gave me some goals to set and achieve, even if it was just within the scope of the couple hours I was on the bike that day.
One of my favorite drills was get on my road bike and climb up to the nordic center north of town. It’s a slow steady climb for about 15 miles with a lot of small grades that kick up just slightly every now and then. One of the drills I used to do a lot was to force myself to sprint the last 50-100 yards up every one of those little hills on the way up to the nordic center. One of the habits I always noticed during a race was the fact that on a long climb, everyone would seem to let up just slightly at the top of the climb. I don’t think that it was something anyone did on purpose, but it was just a natural reaction to the relief that you’re almost to the top.
Naturally, I latched onto this fact and made it my purpose on these training rides to not let that happen to me.
Right now, the brewery is coming to the top of a rise. I’ve been plugging along at a pretty steady pace for the last couple months, but with the final pieces of equipment getting installed, and the power getting turned on to everything (including the walk-in), these last couple weeks have been a huge push to make it ‘over the hump’ and into initial production.
On the bike, the manifestation of this sprint for the top was me standing up, upshifting and gritting my teeth a bit.
At the brewery, the manifestation is 6-7 hour days at the brewery during the week (in addition to my normal job), and even longer hours on the weekend. There is a long list of seemingly small items that just needs to be cranked out before I can open.
There are lights to install, bar tops to finish, shelves to build, grain to sort, chemicals to inventory, kegs to wash, tanks to scrub, fittings to assemble, and a host of other things (that I’m probably forgetting right now).
One of the not so small items is to actually brew the first batch of beer in the big system. That batch is anticipated to be coming along this sunday. I was thinking of brewing last sunday, but there was so much still to do that it just didn’t make sense. So, I brewed a beer for the upcoming Lumberyard Octobeerfest on the 10-gallon system, and pushed off the first big batch for another week.
Despite the long list of things that need to happen for me to open, I feel a sense of accomplishment every night that I walk out of the brewery, and that really is something that keeps it all in perspective. It really is fun, it just doesn’t feel like it sometimes. It’s forced me to call on friends with skills that I don’t have (like Jason and Mikey for the mad-crazy woodworking skills on the bar top and Nate with his TIG welding expertise), and dig up skills I haven’t used for years (like gluing PVC pipe, which I haven’t done since potato cannon days in college).
But in the end, each day is another challenge bested and one more thing off the list.
The kickoff to this last couple weeks of pushing to get everything finished up started with the epoxy coating on the brewery floor. You may remember that the concrete drying (it takes a month) and then the epoxy coating was considered my rate-limiting step. Well, I got some friends together over labor day weekend, and we busted it out. I had the brilliant idea (inspired by the fine folks at New Belgium and this video) to take a little stop motion video of the whole process. Unfortunately the camera battery died as I was moving the tanks into place, but you get most of the picture from the video.
It was a fun project, and most of all, it made me realize that we spent an awful lot of time standing around chatting and drinking coffee as opposed to actually coating the floor.
So with that, I’m just about finished with my bottle of Lumberyard Bourbon Barrel-aged Barleywine, and so I’m gonna hit the sack.
Peace out, and we’ll see you soon!