East End Brewing Company
EXPANSION REPORT #1: Yes, we are moving... but not for about a year.
In case you haven't heard, this is going to be a big year for us. That's because we're moving, expanding, and continuing to brew beer... all at the same time! There's been a nice bit of press on the subject, but I figured it was time for a more thorough update on where we are with all of this, straight from the horse's mouth. Or perhaps the other end, depending upon your perspective and where you're standing:
WHERE IS THIS PLACE?
The address of the building we bought is 6580 Frankstown Ave, and that's at the corner of Frankstown and Julius St. This is not to be confused with 6580 Frankstown ROAD which is in nearby Penn Hills. Wow. You're already lost, aren't you? Honestly, being hard to find is not something we strive for, it just seems to work out that way. Because of this little street name issue, and the fact that the entrance to the new brewery will be on Julius Street, we may ultimately go with that as our address since it's more unique. will be easier to find. It's about a half a mile from our current Homewood location, and this neighborhood is considered Larimer. Same neighborhood as Bakery Square by the way, and right around the block from it. And yes, this is all still in the East End, so we don't need to change our name!
This new-to-us building is pretty amazing - by our standards, anyway. It has over 17,000 sq ft of space, a dedicated truck loading/unloading lot, and a fenced in parking lot that can hold about 10-12 cars, or 200 bicycles depending on your preference. Compared to our current cramped 4,000 sq ft operation, we'll really have some room to spread out, operate more efficiently, bring you a significantly more civilized/less crowded Growler Hours experience, and brew a whole lot more GOOD BEER than we can now.
WHAT'S THE PLAN FOR THE NEW BUILDING?
Once we're ready - and again, it will take us nearly a full year to become ready (mark that calendar for Aug 2012...in pencil), we'll switch everything over from our current spot, and run with the same Growler Hours format (tasters + beer to go) in the new space. So just like you do now, you'll find at least 8 beers + 2 sodas on tap for tasters and fill-ups during Growler Hours, five days a week, all year round. In time we'll probably expand our hours as we grow into them a bit more.
We're also working to bring something totally new into our 3,100 square foot Growler Hours space. (Yes, the room is that big. Over twice the size of our current brewing area!) But we're not quite ready to formally announce that yet. Once we sort out particulars -assuming we can sort them out, I'll post something here, and I think you'll appreciate it. But I'm getting ahead of myself already... Here's a little sneak-peek at the Growler Room in it's "before" state (click to enlarge):
As for the work in the new brewery building, we've just finished carefully de-constructing roughly 4,000 sq feet of unnecessary 1970s era office space, which as an ex office-space kind of guy, I found very theraputic. Deconstruction vs demolition will allow us to re-use almost all of that lumber, framing, and insulation to build out the new Growler Room. But before we can start brewing beer, we'll need to pour some concrete, install some drains (Yes, that's plural. How novel!), and get ready for all the new brewing equipment that we're in the process of buying right now (mid Spetember).
A NEW BREWERY?
Yes, we need new equipment, and lots of it. That's what that whole GBIP Investment thing is about. The problem with a brewery that's operating at capacity, is that you can't really unplug everything, drive it down the street and plug it all back in without stopping the flow of GOOD BEER. Well, you can't do that without building a lot of stock to cover the inevitable outage... and to build stock you need excess capacity, of which we have none. Interrupting supply is not an option , not only because we would lose dozens and dozens of area tap spots that we've worked so hard to earn, but think of all those poor unsuspecting Growlers that would go unfilled, week after thirsty week. Plus, I've noticed that when you stop sending out beer, people have a tendency to stop sending in money... and we need that money to pay our staff, pay the rent (times two), buy ingredients, and fund this move. So for the next year, while we operate in our current space we'll also be down the street, building a brand new brewery at the same time. Then once it's up, running, and producing GOOD BEER, we'll decomission our current setup, move the fermentation portion of our existing rig into the new space, and sell off the redundant brewhouse equipment. (No, we aren't accepting offers on it yet, but you'll be the first to know. I promise.)
And yes, this equipment will be NEW. Why buy new? It's hard for us to think in these terms as it goes against our very nature, but the incredible growth of American Craft Beer means that there is a very high demand for used brewing equipment out there, and there's very little inventory on the market. So we're buying ourselves a shiny new brewhouse and a few new fermenters to go with it... Plus a bunch of supporting equipment (glycol chiller, grain mill, grist case, hot liquor tank, blah, blah, blah...) so that the new location will be fully capable of producing quality beer all on it's own. And lots of it. Did I mention it's bigger?
We're taking advantage of this move to double the size of our brewhouse to a 20bbl system, giving us twice the bang for each brew day, and the ability to double-batch brew the equivalent to 80 half barrels of beer per day. Or even 120 half barrels worth if we choose to be adventerous enough to triple batch. That's equivalent to 3,700 Growlers of beer in less than 24hours! So I hope you're thirsty.
A PACKAGING LINE, DOWN THE LINE:
The first phase for us is to get moved, grow our brewing capacity, and make some fundamental changes to the clumsy way we operate today. Once we're stabilized a bit, we'll be able to expand our Barrel Aging Program, grow our BIG BEERS in BIG BOTTLES product line, and start work on a whole array of sustainability initiatives we've been sniffing at for years.
Then, when all, or even most of this stuff is in place, we'll turn our sights to packaging our beers. For us, the best choice here looks to be the installation of a canning line. We already have the spot all picked out for it, but with all the work we have ahead building the new brewery, I can't even let myself think about it. Okay, maybe a little. But not without feeling totally overwhelmed.
So that's the plan. And probably plenty for now. I'll post more as things progress, and maybe add some "before" photos of the new building at some point here. Thanks for reading. Now I have a brewhouse to go buy....
Cheers - Scott
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