Brewing up a Building

As we draw ever nearer (like within a few hours...no joke) to getting our hands officially on GrassLands Brewing Company's future home, we thought it'd be timely today to chat about what makes a building the right fit for a brewery - not just a brewpub, but a production facility.

Ever visited a production facility? Think about where it was located in regard to the general layout of the town in which it resided. Think about the style of building it was. Think about the floors...the height...the equipment outside of the brewhouse and fermenters. There's really a ton that goes into the build-out of any building for brewing & packaging purposes. Oh, and if you want to have an onsite taproom, that invites additional challenges too!

For the sake preventing myself from going on about it ad-nauseum, here's a barebones minimum of what's required to operate a production facility:

  • Indoor height: at least 15' easement
  • Power: at least 3-phase w/220v
  • Water: at least 1.5" lines with 25-40 PSI
  • Floors: Reinforced concrete w/protective covering that's resistant to acid-based cleaners...sloped toward (ideally) trench drains
  • Doors: At least 9' high
  • Space: At least 3500 square feet (and that's pushing it...)
  • A/C: Not completely necessary in the brewery area (space heaters, sure), but a definite consideration for any taproom space
  • Drainage/wastewater: absolute necessity
  • HVAC: Absolutely
  • Loading area for shipping/receiving
  • General: Areas needed for grain storage, keg/bottle/can storage, administration, etc., etc., etc.

Honestly - that's just off the top of my head. It's also not including general operational equipment such as a forklift. There's also firewall considerations to be made, emergency areas, bla bla bla bla bla. See what I mean? Your favorite corner lot might seem like a great place to house a brewery, but is it really? One of the things we prepared ourselves for from the get-go was to remind ourselves that retail isn't our primary goal. Let me explain: Breweries are awesome places to visit and if they've got a great retail presence, that's a plus.

However, I'm much, much more concerned (as a consumer) with being able to buy a six-pack of Cigar City's Jai-Alai IPA than overly enjoying myself in their taproom. GrassLands' VP Scott knows his stuff: "Our goal is to make our beer available to the greater Tallahassee (and eventually Florida) community - having a taproom is just icing on the cake." Don't get us wrong, we want to offer you, our dear readers, and everyone else an eclectic taproom...and we will - but our goal will be on creating and replicating awesome and innovative beer styles, consistently, and making them available through distribution. A common phrase in the craft industry is this: "You'll keep your lights on through taproom sales, but you'll grow through wholesale." True words indeed.

Is it surprising to see more & more breweries operating in warehouse districts just off the beaten path? Considering a brewery's needs, it certainly isn't. While we can't yet tell you where we'll be operating, we can say that the building we've identified fits all the needs outlined above with space for a cool retail presence. You can color us stoked! :D

With that, I'll leave you to it for now. With any luck, we'll have a lot more to talk about next week regarding an official location! Have an absolutely awesome weekend, my dear readers, because you most definitely deserve it!

Prost!