One year, one month, and one day

One year, one month and one day.  That is how long it took from the day I told Dan I was going to open a brewery and asked him if he wanted to join me in this crazy adventure to the day that we brewed our first batch of Moody Ales beer at the brewery.  We brewed all weekend to fill fermentor #1 with our IPA–I think we put more hops into the kettle this weekend than I’ve put into all the beer I brewed at home in the last two years.

It’s really easy to forget how far we’ve come.  For instance, our space was an empty box only two months and nine days ago.  June 30th was when construction started in earnest and the floor in the rear of our unit was removed by West Coast Cutting and Coring.

At this point, our brewery is functional and mostly finished.  We have some issues with equipment that we need to figure out, but they are not stopping us from the most important task at hand – brewing you fine folks some delicious craft beer.

Now the challenge is going to be filling all four of our tanks while finishing off the rest of our construction on the tasting room.  It’s coming along–once our drywall work is complete we’ll paint, get our bathroom fixtures and bar plumbing completed, lighting and electrical finished, and of course, get our beer taps installed–it wouldn’t be much of a tasting room without those.

My friend Brian asked me the other day what the most unexpected part of this entire process has been since I left work six months ago.  It stumped me a bit, probably because I was exhausted, but I’ve been thinking about it.  There have been a lot of things that I expected to happen that have. A few of the things I did expect:

  • Not spending nearly enough time with my wife and kids (My wife is amazingly supportive and my kids are super excited).
  • Super long days – 15 hours is pretty average.
  • Getting up early – I’m not really into mornings, I’m drinking way more coffee than I expected 😉
  • Being pulled in 15 directions at all times.
  • Having some stressful moments with Dan. It’s to be expected when you are working this hard–there is a lot going on and we are exhausted.  We typically follow these moments up with a beer and a laugh and try to remember why we got into this in the first place.
  • Being hands on during the construction–Dan and I really wanted to get our hands dirty.
  • Everyone being so friendly and helpful.
  • How physically hard the brewing process would be.  We made tradeoffs to keep our initial capital costs down knowing it would take more hard work.

Things I didn’t expect:

  • Spending so much time in industrial parks.  We pick up a lot of things in industrial parks.  I really like the ones in Burnaby.
  • Equipment issues. Seems like a no brainer, but I just expected things to work.  We had a problem with our kettle which is no longer slowing us down, and will be dealt with soon–more details in a future blog post perhaps.
  • The support of all my friends, family, and co-workers.  I expected support, but not to the extent that we’ve received.  Thank you.
  • Shipping costs.  Buy stock in Fedex and UPS.
  • Having awesome trades that love what they do and take pride in making sure it’s done right.   I’m not sure if we’ve just been lucky, but after hearing horror stories from so many people, I just wasn’t expecting it.  They have done some very high quality work and are great people to have around.
  • Having a golf tournament opportunity presented to me at least once a week.  Who knew there are so many golf tournaments?  Maybe we will have one someday…
  • BC Safety Authority process for getting our gas kettle up and running–that delayed brewing by two weeks and was truly something we had not planned for.  If you are starting a brewery with a gas kettle in BC, come talk to us and we’ll help you save a few weeks!
  • How much wire and piping we have in the brewery.  It’s a bit mind boggling considering we have a pretty simple setup. I’m pretty sure we can measure the wire in kilometres at this point.
  • Destroying a pair of pants and two pairs of shorts completely–construction is hard on clothes.
  • Really liking my super comfortable work boots–just ask Dan and James how much I talk about how comfortable they are.
  • How physically hard the brewing process would be.  Yes we made tradeoffs to reduce our capital costs, and I don’t regret that at all, even though it’s harder than I thought it would be.
  • Losing 10 pounds while eating worse than I have in years?  Did not expect that.
  • How much room 1500 growlers take up.

Things are (mostly) going to plan, and even when things deviate from the plan, we are dealing with it and adapting.  The trick now will be to get up and running without breaking through our razor thin budget.  I’m confident that we can do this, and although I’m saying no to a lot things when I want to be saying yes, I’m confident that this will keep us financially strong through the first critical year of operation.

So, to answer Brian’s question, the most unexpected thing for me: surprisingly, it is how well I sleep at night.  I’m not stressed.  Tired?  Yes.  Stressful moments?  Um – yes.  Hard conversations?  Oh yeah. But I’m sleeping really well, maybe even better than one year, one month and three days ago. And I hope that continues, even if I don’t expect it to!