Winchester Brew Works

Author: Bonnie Landy

By in Business 0

The time has come… for hiring!

We are seeking some motivated, outgoing, knowledgeable part-time beer servers for our tasting room – this will allow us to focus even more on making and promoting our beer! Don’t worry, you’ll still see the owners around behind the bar.

If you’re interested in applying, please fill out the job application below and send it (with a resume if you’d like) to jobs@winchesterbrewworks.com or drop it off at the brewery by 9 pm Monday, July 25, 2016.

Winchester Brew Works Job Application

Beertender Job Responsibilities:

Providing patrons with information about beer and brewing to aid in decision making and atmosphere; keep dishware and merchandise stocked; correctly keep open tickets for patrons and charge them when done.

Beertender Job Duties:

  • Prepares room for opening by setting tables and chairs, cleaning tables, bar, and floor.
  • Protects establishment and patrons by adhering to sanitation, safety, and alcohol beverage control policies.
  • Helps patrons select beverages by presenting menu; suggesting varieties that align with patrons preferences, and answering questions about brewing and beer selection.
  • Updates beer list board and tap markers.
  • Pours beverages correctly and fills growlers.
  • Responds to additional patron requirements by friendly inquiry.
  • Maintains bar setting by removing glassware as completed; refilling water glasses; being alert to patron spills or other special needs.
  • Frequent bending/stooping to load dishware into warewashing machine.
  • Obtains revenues by totaling charges; issuing bill; accepting payment; returning change or credit card and signature slip to patrons.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.
  • Must be able to constantly stand during shift and lift/carry up to 50 pounds.
By in beer, brewing, equipment 0

The day we had all been waiting for…

I suppose I have a lot to catch you up on. More information to come on the really exciting stuff like our chilled water loop, construction of our walnut bar top, and getting our business license!

For now, I’ll clue you in on a big nugget of juicy malty info: we have *finally* brewed on our 3 bbl system!

There was a lot of work leading up to it, mostly because we did not purchase what is known as a ‘turnkey’ system (aka ready to run as soon as it is installed). We had no professional installers and even insisted on wiring up a control panel for the brewhouse ourselves. We bought the tanks used and brought them down from Pennsylvania way back over a year ago (before we even had a location!). We bought them off of another new brewery who had been holding on to them just like we did for the last year (Thanks Theo at ZeroDay Brewing in Harrisburg! Check them out). There was a lot of learning along the way, but overall I think that the time that we spent really understanding how everything works in our brewery was time well spent.

And it was the coldest day. ever.

Picking up the brewhouse in PA. Good thing our tanks fit into a U-haul.

One big step was getting tri-clamp ferrules (a sanitary way of connecting things to your tank) welded onto the boil kettle and hot liquor tank to make them ready for electric brewing. We briefly considered ‘weldless’ fittings, but I am so glad that we splurged on the welding work because it came out so nice and is way easier to clean. Many larger breweries use natural gas or steam to heat their tanks, but since ours were small enough, we thought we would try all-electric. Having now done small batches with propane and our big batch with all electricity, I think electric was a great way to go. Ask me again in 3+ months when our heating elements have gotten scaled… 😉

Arthur also fits in the tank. No, it was not against his will.

Our superb welders. Sometimes they had to get inside the tanks.

And they liked beer. Who knew.

Those incomparable welders. Really fantastic work.

 

By dumping water into the tank 10 gallons at a time. It was messy. Thanks Dad!!!

Yes, they are sticks. Carefully calibrated.

So then the day finally arrived. We had been testing our equipment and calibrating our volumetric measuring devices (aka sticks) and installing our cooling system. All the ingredients were here. We went for it!!

Arthur and I started the batch and Jeff and I finished it up. It is one of the beers that we expect to make nearly year round, a cream ale. It’s made with some corn for sweetness and it has a nice biscuity finish. Not too hoppy, mostly refreshing. Its name is Canoe Love.

Yes, it was a huge pot of oatmeal.

Doughing in the mash! So exciting (and a little dusty).

Other than putting a variety of liquids on the floor (none of them were wort, thank goodness), the brew went basically as expected. I’m still in shock. Then, the next day, I was overjoyed to see that indeed our yeast found something to eat and were making tons of carbon dioxide (bubbling in the bucket). So, assuming that the rest of the batch goes well, this is officially our first BIG batch to sell to YOU! Stay tuned for pics of … yes, that’s right – us OPENING! And save the date for our big party for ourselves, our Grand Opening, set for Saturday, May 7.  See you there!

 

By in Building, Business, furniture, personal 0

A little introspection

Sorry for so much radio silence lately, but we have been so. busySo busy in fact, that I’ll have to write another blog post later telling our tales of an auction dishwasher, picking up 2 pallets-worth of glassware from Bal’more and constructing our bar. But about this blog post…

We are working very hard on getting closer and closer to making beer. But that’s actually what brings me to my thought for today: why this? Why open a brewery?

Next time, more cheese and more sausage. Said everyone always.

Next time, more cheese and more sausage. Said everyone always.

I come from the corporate world. The corporate world of manufacturing – a world rife with union clashes, FDA regulation, and cost-cutting in the easy ways, not always the right ways. I won’t lie, it’s a big driver for pushing me into entrepreneurship. Although actually, it’s something I’ve been questing after my whole life. I was one of those children who was always trying to get the best deal (I reminisced at Staples today about school supply rebates I used to mail in) and looking for little things to make a dollar (i.e. keep me busy). But today, although I really appreciate getting to work under my own decisions, the consequences of making the wrong choice can be heart-wrenching. I have to try to think hard about living in the present and being grateful for how far we’ve come and that we have this opportunity at all so that I don’t get pulled into second-guessing and regretting every little detail. In the end, I usually tell people that I have known forever that I wanted to own a business. Combine that with my experience and education in manufacturing and a brewery actually makes a lot of sense. I’m certainly not going to go out and start my own pharmaceutical manufacturing plant or oil refinery. Maybe next year.

So the business-bug combined with my love of cooking, food, beverage, and all things culinary really made this venture feel right. The picture to the left that your mouth has been watering to is a beautiful tray of sausage kolaches made from scratch. I had no idea before I made these that kolaches are pretty much a Czech-Texan invention and don’t exist outside of TX (my homeland). Well, Virginia, if you’re lucky – I’ll bake for you.

Speaking of decisions that we might regret, one big decision came to fruition this week when our equipment finally arrived from out west. Now we’re stuck with it! In hopefully another week or so, we’ll start running water tests on it and get it cleaned and passivated – a process where an acid creates an inactive (passive) layer on the stainless steel to inhibit staining and rust. This week we’ve been ordering the rest of our equipment – shortly we will actually have a working brewery. Or so I dream all day and night.

Now for a pretty picture:

It's like we're going to have a wedding.

It’s like we’re going to have a wedding.

In other news, we procured a paint sprayer, so now we can prime and paint our chipped-gum-covered-auction chairs! They’ll be good as new. Also, if you stick gum to ANYTHING inside our tasting room, we will blacklist you.

It’s a good thing we have so many chairs to paint since the Tax and Trade Bureau is still working on approving our permit. They’ve had it since June. But we’re trying to stay patient. It should seriously be any day now. Like, any minute now. Like, please? Now?

Well, we should have more fun pictures coming in the future once we can get all our equipment into place and start playing with it. We’re a little behind schedule and have been pretty quiet this last month, but stay tuned – we’re still moving forward.

Sincerely yours,

Bonnie: one of the brew crew, aka Mad Scientist

By in beer 0

I’m a lumberjack and I’m okay!

This post is not about lumberjacks, but we do have lumber… and a lot of plaid.

IMG_1011

We are the Malt Mafia.

The progress we’re making now is feeling really good. We finally nailed down (pun intended) our construction contract and work has started!

IMG_1060

Those will be windows into our soul (i.e. the fermenters).

These are the walls at the back of the tasting room space. There will be a small office area (I gotta have somewhere to work on my spreadsheets) and then the fermentation space. These walls will be behind the bar, where we’ll also have a sink and (eventually) a dishwasher. We’ll be running cooled glycol/water through that block wall from the chiller in the back up to the fermentation room, where we have 2 jacketed fermenters and 1 jacketed brite tank on order.

IMG_1053

Lonely glass of beer. It needs a friend to … drink it?

We have already made a few changes to our initial plan, some of which hinge around the door sizes (I’m full of puns today). We’re trying to think ahead for bringing in more fermenters and having an easy access path to get them into position.

IMG_1085

We’re going to fill all the trenches with water and sail tiny boats on them.

This will be the drains of a new toilet and a new employee shower! We gotta look good to pour you beer…

IMG_1089

Also a drain for a mop sink, but no one cares about that.

In other news, we also got new business cards. Yep, we’re legit. Also, in case you haven’t heard (har har) we have a Kickstarter campaign ongoing – it ends this Friday Oct. 2nd, so get in there now if you haven’t!!!

Yes, people still say snazzy.

We think they’re snazzy.

By in beer, Building, Kickstarter 0

Auction Catches and Pilot Batches

A few exciting hurdles have been overcome this last week.  Because I’m a ‘list’ kind of person, here you go:

  1. Monday: launched Kickstarter and were named a Staff Pick
  2. Tuesday: attended and met the Old Town Winchester Business Association (OTWBA)
  3. Wednesday: article ran in the Winchester Star
  4. Thursday: BAR approval granted
  5. Friday: Purchased and picked up walk-in cooler
  6. Saturday: Brewed TWO pilot batches
KS 8sep

I love this scene of our video.

So yes, the Kickstarter (1) – AWESOME, right??? Thank you thank you thank you.  I’m assuming that if you’re reading this, you’ve already contributed.  If not – obviously here’s the link.  Go do it. You will seriously be helping us out.  We started this business on a shoestring budget, and the Kickstarter is helping us afford some things that will really really help the taproom.  The list is in the Kickstarter – go read it.  Other exciting things – since we’re a staff pick, we’re one of the first projects to come up when you look in the Food category.

OTWBA (2) – a really cool group of business owners from Old Town. We’ll definitely be joining. I felt like we got the inside scoop when we went to the meeting. Most notably, we met the president of the association and a fellow female business owner – Christine Patrick of the Winchester Book Gallery. So if you see her, tell her hi for us.  And go ahead and attend the Skyline Indie Film Festival this weekend while you’re at it.

It's a slow process, ok?

We’re gonna be big, big stars.

(3) Article in the Winchester Star – yes, we’re saving some for posterity. We made it onto the front page… of the Local section.

doors for dayz

I learned what a transom is.

ghost walking tour?

No, I didnt do the walking tour. Yet.

The Board of Architectural Review (4) meeting was on Thursday afternoon down at Rouss City Hall.   Since we’re in the Historic District, any exterior changes must be approved by the city. We were lucky that our contractor (Mr. Richie Pifer Jr. of Pifer Construction) was gracious enough to step in to do the speaking at the hearing.  Basically, we want to add a door onto the side of the building.  There’s a parking lot and our future patio out there, and we want another access to it.  Besides, it also helps with all those boring things like egress and occupancy. It’s going to be a really pretty wood door with glass panels in it, which is historic enough for the board to approve. Score! Now, we can begin construction next week.

 

That compressor was seriously heavy.

It was more fun than the last auction pick because Arthur came along. He graciously drove the 16′ truck. I ate all the Cheez-its. It was your basic road trip.

The bittersweet story of the walk-in cooler (5):  we decided to take a gamble on another auction item up in Pennsylvania – a nearly new (2-year old) walk-in cooler advertised as 10′ x 16′. Of course, you never know exactly what you’re going to get. After the cooler had been loaded up into our U-haul truck, we did some math and discovered that the cooler was not as advertised. It’s a bit smaller than we wanted (8′ x 12′ in reality), so we will likely need to improvise some for all our brite (serving) tanks to fit.  Still, it’s in great condition and we can’t wait to put it together!

If Arthur had just washed it earlier...

Yes, that is a fermenter in Holly’s sink. No, she’s not happy about it.

Low country boil or a brown ale?

Our real system will be prettier. And probably won’t say ‘IGLOO’ on it.

Pilot brews (6) – now here’s a topic I could really wax poetic about.  Probably anyone opening a brewery will say that recipe development is one of the funnest parts.  Certainly funner than attending BAR and business association meetings.  I mean, the creative act of trying new beer recipes is why we got into this in the first place.  Our love of cooking is something that brought us together as friends and brought us to the brew kettle.  The only downside is, you can’t exactly taste and adjust.  You have to wait and wait and wait for those glorious little microbes to do their thing. This means the iterative process of narrowing down recipes is inherently very lengthy.  Good thing we’ve been doing this for a while!  Nevertheless, we’re still tweaking and trying some new things that we can’t wait to try on our big (comparatively) system. Plus, we are now trying to take into account one conundrum we face as a nanobrewery.  We may be too big to (cost-effectively) source enough ingredients for a 100 gallon batch that were so plentiful for 5 gallon batches. On the other hand, we have typical inventory issues on our hands and can’t order 1,643,254 different types of malt because we’re not big enough and won’t go through it fast enough.  But what is the joy of unhindered creation? You must have a box in order to think outside of it.  Whoops, I guess I waxed poetic.  Time to end this blog post.

If you haven’t joined our newsletter yet, take a little time to join in.  We’ll be sending out even more exciting stuff as we get closer to opening!

 

By in beer, furniture 1

Adventure time!

Those chairs are lonely. Don't worry - they now have 90 friends.

Those chairs are lonely. Don’t worry – they now have 90 friends.

Tuesday was a tough day.  I had to cross the Mason-Dixon line.

It was for a good cause, though.  Anyone who has done anything knows that it’s very easy to go over budget and very difficult to come in under budget.  But we did it, for one item on our very lengthy ‘needs’ list.

We caught a restaurant auction for a Peruvian restaurant and managed to snag chairs and a 3-bay sink.  Only downside – I was the only one available for the single pickup day… which happened to be in Pennsylvania.  The solution: rent the smallest u-haul that can fit everything we bought.

This was me trying to look excited to mask my extreme nervousness of driving a box truck all the way up I-81 by myself.

20150825_095240

Arthur claimed those were ‘crazy eyes’.

It was a surprisingly quick trip up to the warehouse where I was very pleasantly surprised to have lots of help with loading the truck, which ended up taking only around 30 minutes.  Even after loading up 2 chairs as passengers, 4 sad straggler chairs had to be left behind…

20150825_133332

Looks desolate, no? I suppose it IS Pennsylvania.

A few hours later and I was back in the promised land. Driving a 10′ truck really isn’t so bad.

20150825_163202

Also, who knew there was a Lindt chocolate factory outlet on I-81 and didn’t tell me?  Holly and I have a road trip in our future.

Then we had the exciting task of unloading all our goodies while awkwardly parked on Cameron.

20150825_195542

We had already unloaded a lot when I took this.

All in all, a successful day.  Now, who wants to help clean and refinish 92 chairs?

20150825_201453

There’s gum on the bottom of nearly all of these.