Winchester Brew Works

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Thanksgiving Thoughts

It is the time of year to be thankful! Here at Winchester Brew Works we are taking today to give thanks to all of you! Your loyal patronage has made all our events, beer releases and weekly plans a great success. We would like to take this time to look back on our events since opening our doors in May as a celebration thanks for the memories that we have created!

May 7th, 2016: Grand Opening Ceremony

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May 16th- May 22nd, 2016: Tri-Brewery ABCW Steal the Pint

June 12th, 2016: Winchester Craft Beer Week Kickoff

July 2nd, 2016: IndePINTdence Day

October 1st, 2016: Oktoberfest at Winchester Brew Works

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October 5th- October 8th: Great American Beer Fest

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October 27th, 2016: Pumpkin Carving Contest

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October 29th, 2016: Halloween Dace Party

**Weekly Events**

BINGO for Craft Beer Month

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Run, Sweat and Beers

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Team Trivia at Winchester Brew Works

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Thank you to our friends, family, employees, supporters and loyal patrons for all our successes this year. With out you guys none of this would have been possible! Enjoy the rest of your Turkey Day, you all deserve it!

By in beer 0

Beers, Cheers and Words of Wisdom from Bonnie

Today I sat down with Bonnie not to have a Winchester Brew Works beer but to uncover the magic that goes on behind the scenes here at the brewery. In our interview I chose to focus the question into three groups: The Woman (Bonnie), The Beer, and The Legacy. Amiss laughter, brewing tips, and chair painting I discovered that Bonnie is not just the owner of Winchester Brew Works. Rather she is a artist who’s canvas is an empty fermenter and countless bags of grain. Her art does not hang on a wall, it flows from the taps here at WBW for us to enjoy nearly every day!

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The Woman

Matt: “Aside from being WBW’s head brewer, what occupies your time?”

Bonnie: “You mean what used to occupy my time! *laughter* Really, anything outdoors. I love hiking and camping. Oh, live music is another favorite and if the two should combine that’s pretty awesome, so outdoor music festivals are great!”

Bonnie: “The art of the craft is another of my favorite things. It is probably why we did most of the tasting room ourselves. I mean my mother was an artist so we were always finishing things, doing projects here and there.”

Matt: “Well, the artist attributes seem to have been passed on and at work here!”

Matt: “Before the development and opening of WBW what did you do?”

Bonnie: ” I had a few different roles in the pharmaceutical field. I worked for a large pharmaceutical company entering into their technical sector. There I did a lot of data analysis for the HPV vaccine.”

Matt: “Wow! That is quite of an accomplishment but I am assuming you didn’t stop there.”

Bonnie: “Right. I was interested in the development of the project opposed to the final result. So I moved on to skid lead engineer and then shift manager. I would write procedures, forms for filtration, develop training processes and teach those processes to workers in my section.”

Matt: “Very interesting. You said you enjoyed ‘the development of the project opposed final result’, could you elaborate on that a little?”

Bonnie: Sure! Essentially I enjoy developing projects from the ground up, like a building for example, I’d rather be the engineer building the structure as opposed to the corporate advisor running it. I guess that’s another reason why I wanted to open my own business.

Matt: “Well with that in mind, did you take any of your knowledge from your last job to here?”

Bonnie: “Yes, there is a lot of regulation here and at my old job. I am good at reading through code so I can catch everything I need to in the regulation. There are many shared technical aspects and quite honestly the equipment here is child’s play compared to pharmecudical division!” *laughter*

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The Beer 

Matt: “Alright, I think it’s time to discuss the development of your art. Do you remember your first home brew?”

Bonnie: “I think so, it has been awhile! It was an all-grain IPA from Brooklyn Brew Shop (home brew kit company). We conditioned the bottles with honey just to add a little flair. It was pretty good especially after a haitus from home brewing when we moved from VA. From there we went to 5 gallons and kept developing more unique recipes. It really makes you feel like a mad scientist!”

Matt: “So, what are your favorite types of beer?”

Bonnie: “I really like IPAs, malty beers like porters and browns are also a big hit with me!”

Matt: “How did you start your brewing career?”

Bonnie: “Chemical engineering and pharmaceutical manufacturing were a big help. Essentially those experiences allowed me to teach myself a bit faster. Honestly, brewing is something that you can really teach yourself as long as you have a basic knowledge of chemistry and a refined palate. Determining that you have a bad beer is one of the most important things you can do during the brewing process.”

Matt: “Is it difficult to craft new recipes?”

Bonnie: “No, it is my favorite part! The pilot batch is the hardest part. We put in a lot of hours of work for only 15 gallons but it is very important to our process.”

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The Legacy 

Matt: “What inspired you to open WBW?”

Bonnie: “Brew tasting seeing other people do it was what really started it all. We noticed that there was an untapped market in Winchester meaning we would have a higher success rate. At the time it was the next step to grow as family and friends!”

Matt: “How did you find the location for the brewery?”

Bonnie: “The internet! We started looking for a spot in 2014 and we knew what we wanted! It had to be in old town, if not we were going to take it as a sign that it wasn’t meant to be. After the finding our present location we were a little hesitant. It seemed a bit out of our range so we decided to look at a number of other spaces but nothing seemed to fit. We needed parking for food trucks and noticed the north end of the walking mall just felt right. Our present location kept sitting vacant, so we finally jumped on it!”

Matt: “I know this is a question you keep getting but I have to know. Do you ever plan on expanding?”

Bonnie: “Our goal is NOT to take over the beer world. We want to your local beer maker. It would be nice to master what we are doing right now with the tasting room. We just hired staff and we are completing small projects around the brewery. This is not to say I don’t have plans but you’ll just have to stay tuned!” *laughter*

Matt: “What is the hardest part of running WBW?”

Bonnie: “Dealing with stress of owning a business. I just want everyone to appreciate what we have created and the welcoming atmosphere that we provide. Honestly, the realization that everything is in my hands is still a bit jarring to me.”

 

Matt: “Well, thank you for your time and answers Bonnie!”

Bonnie: “Of course, I hope this lets people have a bit of insight into our world, the wonderful world of Winchester Brew Works!”

 

I hope you enjoyed my chat with Bonnie! Stay tuned loyal patrons and beer lovers for the rest of the interview series! I will be sitting down with Holly and the rest of the WBW gang in the coming weeks!

 

 

By in beer, Business 0

Hello Everyone!!

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Left to Right: Matt, Bonnie, Holly

Hello loyal patrons, beer lovers, and future guests of Winchester Brew Works! Many brewery owners, including Bonnie and Holly, will tell you that brewing is not all fun and games. Beneath all the pints and flowing taps there is a significant amount of paper work, planning, and public relations. Together they keep the brewery ticking like clock-work but not without a huge time burden on the two wonderful owners, that is where I come in.

Hello! My name is Matt. This article is to briefly introduce myself and to let everyone know I will be helping with the brewery’s social media and PR outreach. I am a recent graduate of Shippensburg University with a BS in English with a Concentration in Writing. This degree has given me insight in to PR management and the development of social media writing, skills that I plan to use here. I am an avid beer drinker, newly found homebrewer, creative writer and animal lover just as a quick introduction. I hope to be a conduit of information for the brewery and a substantial help to Bonnie, Holly and the rest of the WBW team.

Check back on the blog and Facebook for great stories, interviews and upcoming events. Follow our Instagram for fun, photogenic updates and our Twitter for events, facts and fun. Don’t forget to check-in and find us on Untappd! Have questions, comments or concerns? Feel free to contact us at contact@winchesterbrewworks.com

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 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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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
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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.

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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…

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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.

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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.

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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?

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