Strong Rope made its first major purchase this past weekend, bringing the dream of opening a brewery one big step closer to reality. Rockaway Brewing Co., a great micro-brewery in Long Island City, is upgrading from an electric 2 barrel (bbl) system to a shiny new 5 bbl brew-house. They reached out to social media to alert the masses they were selling their system, for a price I couldn't refuse. I contacted them that day and spent the following Monday shadowing them on their last brew day on the system. A week after that we put a down payment on the brew house and I picked it up this past weekend. In the span of 3 weeks we own a brewery! It is still all very surreal at this point, i just keep thinking "oh yeah, I have a brewery", albeit without my own space to put it in, but that will come soon enough.
This opportunity was a change from how we originally planned on starting the brewery. We had planned on using Portland Kettle Works to fabricate a new 3.5 bbl gas fired system. It was important for us to use Portland Kettle Works, both because of their great craftsmanship and because they design and manufacture all their equipment in Portland, Oregon. With much of today's brewing equipment being made overseas, we wanted to use American made equipment for the quality it provides and for the convenience of being able to take a trip out to see it being made and to talk to the manufacturers...the guys at PKW have been great to work with, graciously answering my many questions. With plans for much of our beer being sold through the tap room, we will be serving our beer directly from serving tanks rather than kegs so we still plan on using Portland Kettle Works for those, but finding a used system, that I was able to test out and know the previous beer from it, was too great an opportunity to pass up (even without a space secured).
In this time when new breweries are rapidly opening, used equipment is a hot commodity and very hard to come by. With over 2,500 breweries operating in 2013, many on the nano scale (brewery's smaller than 3.5 bbl) as home-brewers with limited budgets make the leap to commercial status. Buying used saves us money to start, but also allows our environmental footprint to be a bit smaller as we are reusing equipment that has already gone through the manufacturing process. Also having a knowledgeable team nearby that has used it for the past two years and can pass on their first hand experience is an invaluable resource as I make this jump in production. This system will once again have life at Strong Rope. Thanks to the Ethan, Marcus, Flint and the Rockaway Brewing crew for helping get this thing in motion and thanks to Matt and Colby for the long day of moving it. Couldn't have done it without you guys. Stay tuned to find out more...
We have the system and I can't wait to start brewing great beer that will have people drinking Strong Rope for years to come. Cheers and see you all very soon!