The Home Stretch

It’s been roughly three years since Brandi and I started “seriously” working on the business plan and now we are just over a week away from FINALLY opening…..yeeeeessshhh. What were we thinking?!

If you’ve been following along with us on our journey, or simply asked us in person how things are going, I’m sure you’re aware of some of the issues that arise when you decide to attempt to open a brewery. However, it should be noted that the stories you hear from us have been heavily edited with all the explicits removed to try and keep things in the PG13 category. We like to keep our stories from going into “horror territory”. We find watering things down into a “teen angst/coming of age tale” is definitely more palatable and still offers some degree of optimism for anybody who decides to ask.

That’s not to say it’s been all bad. Just a lot……like…..A LOT. Like, other brewers tell you that “it’s a lot” when you tell them you’re going to start a brewery, but nothing can really prepare you for the real thing. There are so many T’s and I’s to cross and dot that you really do start losing track of them, no matter how organized you are. Same with days of the week. We’ve never relied so heavily on our calendars before. Not just to keep our weeks organized, but just for something to tell us what day it is. So, if you decide to open a brewery be sure to use a calendar. Calendars are good. What else did we learn? Ah yes. Permits!

Nobody likes permits. Permits don’t like permits. Even the people who’s job it is to write and approve permits, don’t like permits because people constantly get mad at them about the permits they just wrote or won’t approve. But, they’re super important if you want to get stuff done. See that photo above this paragraph? That’s all possible due to a demolition permit (yes, you need a permit to break stuff). Brandi, has been so involved in various permits that she’s now been programmed/emotionally scarred to analyze the potential permits needed for various things in everyday life. “Wow cool firework display! I bet that the permits for it sucked though”. So, get to know your permits. Fortunately our contractor took care of most of them, but understanding what’s needed and why is extremely helpful when it comes to trying to open on time.

To avoid too much venting in this post, I should talk about what all of the above has lead to. Having all that in place has made for some great rewards after all. Receiving all of our equipment (and finding out that it all actually fit) was an exhausting, but exciting day. As was getting our liquor manufacturing license, passing all of our inspections, and finally landing our business license. Even pouring beer out of our newly installed draft system brought a huge sigh of relief while also bringing a pretty big smile to our faces. The work to get there was intense and extremely stressful, but after years of work we were finally starting to see it pay off in tangible ways. By far the biggest was finally pressing the button to let everybody know when we were opening.

Finally announcing an opening day was both weird and euphoric. It was scary to press the “post button”, but once we did it was exciting and got a little emotional. We had worked so hard to get to this moment. It was a huge deal and it kind of took us by surprise. We were happy. Then the results of the post started coming in. Now we’re not in anyway “leaders in social media marketing”, but we like to think have made a little bit of an effort considering we haven’t even opened yet. Still, holy crap! Compared to what we had experienced before on social media, our accounts had just exploded. People were liking, sharing, tagging their friends, and those friends were even sharing. Things went nuts…..then the fear started to sink in. We are going to open. Whether we want to or not, it’s happening. And how’s our to-do list doing? Still pretty freaking long! It’s only one million things left compared to ten million things. That’s progress though right? Right?!!

Still, we’re almost there. On September 23rd, 2017 Silver Valley Brewing will open its doors for all to (hopefully) enjoy. It’s been an extremely long and stressful road, but the end is almost here. Soon we’ll begin down a whole new road. It’ll also be full of mistakes and have its own set of highs and lows, but we look forward to it. Thank you all for your ongoing interest and support.



Adventures In All- Grain

First ever beer brewed? Check. Second beer brewed properly? Check. Legendary home-brewing status achieved? Not even close. Time to play with the big boys and brew our first all-grain!

Before we got too far into our first all-grain brew, we delayed the brew date a little longer so that we could do some proper research on what it was we were actually supposed to be doing. There was a lot more to know this time around and we were being extra causious. We learned our way around a mash tun and plate chiller we’d borrowed (again, THANKS JACK!!) and even ventured into constructing our own recipe. We’d also spent countless hours reading and watching YouTube how-to videos. Things were shaping up and, unlike our first brew, we felt we were prepared. Or so we thought.

Mash Tun Filled!
Mash Tun Filled!

For this brew we had planned for simple IPA using only Cascade for our hops. We decided to brew a “full bodied beer” which meant we’d “mash in” (steeping the grains for you non brewers) at a higher temperature. This would also mean we’d need more grain as well. We had read that it’s best to slowly add the water and grain bit by bit. What we didn’t realize was that you should have a nice layer of water BEFORE you start adding the grain. So, by the end of the mash, all that thick doughy grain at the bottom of the mash tun had made its way under the false bottom and was now preventing any wort (none fermented beer) from draining out of the tun. This is what you call a “stuck mash” and, let me tell ya, it sucked. We’re talking three hours to drain the mash tun kinda suck. Eventually that painfully late night ended with the yeast being pitched and the fermenter being transported down to Jesse’s basement to do its thing. It would be clear sailing from here on out. Right?

Not exactly. I said that we used Jesse’s basement for our fermentation room, but what I forgot to mention was that we were brewing in the middle of a cold January. Unfortunately for us, that part of Jesse’s basement was not known for its heat retention. Needless to say we were freaking out after we racked (transferred) the beer into the secondary. Why was our gravity still so high? Were we going to end up with a 3.5% IPA? Fun fact: if yeast is too cold it’s not going to ferment much of anything. So, after our initial freak out, we moved the carboy to a warmer climate. Luckily things finally kicked into gear and the airlock began bubbling like it should. While we were at it we had also noticed, from our gravity sample, that this beer was seriously lacking in the hop aroma and flavour department. We decided to give dry hopping a try and threw an once into the carboy for good measure. Disaster avoided!

You can dry out the grain to use for making bread and other great snacks.
You can dry out the grain to use for making bread and other great snacks.

The results were not bad actually. I think Dennis described it best as “a good entry level IPA for the none hop head”. Bottom line was, even with all of our trials and tribulations, we ended up with something that was miles ahead of the two extracts we’d previously brewed. We would end up doing one last extract brew, but from here on in it was all-grain for us.

Something good was happening here, but we didn’t start to really tap into our full potential until our local brew club threw out an interesting challenge.

Check back soon for our next post “The Challenge“.