Building a Brewery

And a Big Thank-You To....

Aug 29, 2015


I finally received what I have been going for, for over a year which means I will open any day.  Not that I thought it would take a year, but building a Federal and State regulated brewery, with provisions for food, is one of the hardest industries to bring to completion.

Today I finally received the coveted 'occupancy' paper.  A document adorned with the seal of Summit County which says that I can safely have 83 people 'occupy' my brewery.  Truthfully I'm not sure where I'd put 83 of you, but that's besides the point.  Regardless, even though I put a lot of hours into this place, a lot of other people and companies put in a lot of hours into it too to bring this brewery to opening day.  Note, some of the companies worked with me on my 'dwindling liquidity' situation.  To this I thank them for understanding, believing in me and cutting me some slack.

JEM Plumbing - Jeremy and crew got the job done, quick and ASAP.  It was a big job, they had to rip part of my concrete floors up, replumb and re-concrete.  Jeremy is a great plumber and has been in the business since he was my kids age.  They didn't make a mess and was very honest on the final cost of the job - saving me some needed money.

M&M Electric (Tallmadge) - I had several jobs for them to do.  They scheduled quick and got the job done even quicker.  Jeff has a great team of people working for them (thanks Lee and Nate) and I will continue to use them.

CKP Heating and Cooling - Another company that fit me in fast.  The tech was super cool, got the job done and they even had him come back to hang out for final building inspections should there be any questions.  Thanks Ty for working me in.

I have to mention, electricians, plumbers, welders and HVAC people/companies are in high demand (forget the college degree...really...) it was tough locating ones that could come out in a reasonable amount of time.  I was fortunate in getting recommendations from a few friends when the going got tough...they really came through in a pinch.  Get your kids in a trade...they won't have any problem owning their own company eventually.  There is just too much demand for skilled labor.

Team 4 Architects - A day after I called them, Carlton was on the site giving me the low-down.  A day after that, they were measuring out every inch of that place and we had plans to work from soon thereafter.  Being that I am horrible at name remembering, I liked that both of his other architects that came out to measure both had the name 'Phil', like my middle name.  That made things even that much more easier.  ;)

Summit County Building Inspectors - I was impressed on the fact that all of them showed up within the estimated timelines and I could get them in a day or two after scheduling.  This allowed my final timeline to not get pushed back any further.

(You see, I told the last people at Brew at the Akron Zoo #2 that I would be open by the end of August...that has been my driving force...I don't want to face them again at #3 and not be open!)

Jordan Power Cleaning Equipment (Tallmadge) - I rented a bunch of heavy equipment from them to remove vinyl tile and smooth concrete floors at the beginning.  I then followed up months later with giant blower fans to clean the place out.  A great bunch of guys in the back barn maintaining and showing you how to use the equipment.

Dan Rowland Photography - Now, our kids go to the same school hence the connection and I had prior won a kids vocal auction on his nature prints, but I didn't know that you could get that geeked-out on photography!  I told him what I wanted as far as artwork, we visited the sites and WOW...the work is unparalleled.  I won't go into detail as it's still a surprise but I will say that there is no lack of resolution.  Dan really brought the finishing touches to the place.

Aaron from Highland Square Restoration - Aaron was a lifesaver.  My Dad, Jesse and I had the bar built but it had no skin.  I was drawing a blank even after looking at thousands of google image pics of bars.  I just couldn't come up with a theme that would blend with the walls and the existing marble floors.  Aaron, also with a kid at the same school as mine, wanted to design some medallions to hang, I didn't let him get away with just that!  He came up with the whole bar scheme - a blend of steel and beautifully varnished pine.  Aaron helped source materials and even helped get it going.  This bar came from his imagination and it's awesome.

--> See some of his other works of art at The Ship Rivet

My Dad - Despite his other jobs of teaching golf lessons and couriering, he was down there nearly as much as me.  He is solely responsible for the bar finish and all of the tables - and countless other items.  They are beautiful!

My Boys - There is no better reward than saying that you built something with your kids.  They are at the perfect age to understand what is going on and to do a lot of the work like painting, mixing, cleaning etc.  There is no better learning than building a business with your dad and mom.  That's exactly how I learned.  They will be able to take what they learned (and will continue to learn) with them through the rest of their life.

Jesse and Rebecca - Assistant brewer and wife of.  They both have made numerous trips AFTER they got off of their real jobs to come do some work at the brewery - be it brewing, laying tile or just carrying heavy stuff.  They have been instrumental in making several successful Brew at the Zoo's and also the Blues'n Brew's at Lock 3 and will be instrumental in the years ahead.

Ross and Daniel - Both of these guys have been hanging out at the home brewery at my house for the last few years.  Their palates are unparalleled and they can vocalize a taste that I necessarily can't.    They have been an instrumental soundboard on flavors and aroma's.  I keep telling them, "you can tell me that this tastes like crap, you won't hurt my feelings"...but so far, they haven't.

Eric - He sent Ross and Daniel my way.  It was funny how it started, I got a text from these two, separately, Ross and Daniel, saying that they were friends of Eric, beer aficionados and asked if they could stop over...as total strangers.  It was a little weird at first explaining this to my wife...but they have been instrumental in this long process.  Even though Eric hasn't been able to make it down much (busy kid schedule), his group of friends has made a big difference.

Alex from BierPros - Alex is a former homebrew club member and currently works installing and cleaning beer lines for bars and restaurants.   He was able to help me when I thought I possibly ordered the wrong draft system components.  It ended up that they weren't so much wrong, but that he just had some extra math and experience needed to hook everything up properly.  The draft system is pouring great now!

John - My boys piano-teachers-husband.  With his busy schedule he still has some time to lend some muscles or help with several things outside of my expertise.  I learned a lot from him and hope to continue to learn.

Stephan - Another Dad of my kid's friends.  A college math professor, we used him to check some arc-tangent calculations (though they could have been sines or cosines) to figure out some bar geometry...which to our surprise, involved some higher-level trigonometry for a few corners.  You see, that math stuff DOES matter.  He has been a frequent popper-in-er to help paint and help with the other odd projects.  Thanks!

The SAAZ Homebrew Club of Akron - I can't say enough about these guys and gals.  Totally selfless in helping out new brewers (or old brewers) with a problem.  If you are a part of the big brew days at the Grape and Granary, you will see about 100 ingenious ways to skin a cat (regarding homebrew setups and processes). The monthly club meetings and judgings are awesome.  There is no better place than at these meetings to judge a beer and ask the brewer anything.  There are no trade secrets!  Everybody has a niche in what they excel at and will give a presentation on - anything from yeast propagation, to water chemistry.  I hope to see some new faces when the club starts up in October.

The Grape and Granary - They continue to provide for my order shortcomings of LD Carlson...and it helps that they are close.  A great group of people.

The Mustard Seed in Highland Square - They were the first to take a chance on me, and my beer.  The only thing I had were a few dozen reviews from untappd of the Brew at the Zoo's - which were probably still a little too statistically insignificant at the time.  But to a new brewer, this was huge for me in that it up'd the bar significantly on what I had to do to ensure quality and timelines.  It really put a fire under me to figure out problems!  The beer that I will be serving (to you!) at the brewery is of higher quality just due to them.  A big thanks goes out to the Seed.  Please give them a visit and have a pint on their awesome balcony overlooking Market Street.

My wife...she's still with me!  Words can't do justice for what we've been through the last year.  Though the Seed has been instrumental in upping my game quality-wise, we wife has been critical in keeping me mindful of timeframes, keeping me sane and has been awesome in the creative process of coming up with 'different' beers that haven't necessarily been done before.  She's always bringing home 6 and 12 pack mixes to try new beers.  She keeps it creative to say the least.

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