Good Robot Brewing Co.

Grog Blog

By in Construction 0

Taproom Construction Update 2: Movin’ Right Along

Remember that kid who freaked out because he only got 89% on a calculus quiz? That’s us. Sure, our brewery is finally open for business, we’re on tap at some of our favourite spots, and we’ve got some sexy events coming up, but why enjoy the fruits of your labour when you can ferment them? Let the taproom construction begin!

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Exterior view from Robie St.

Breakhouse has taken our ideas and expanded, refined and improved them. Like an engineer, our exterior is cold, grey and closed off to the world.

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Beer garden-driveway. They spelled “Good Robot” incorrectly in the concept art.

But when you get to know us, we’re warm and approachable, like a sunny beer garden.

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Cut-out view of taproom.

We want the taproom to have the cozy warmth and conversation of a classic pub or dive but with a modern, surrealist vibe. Like our beers and personality, it’s not true to style. A neighbourhood haunt for misfits in search of good times and good brews.

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

The Tacoma Narrows collapse is, like us, an engineering disaster.

The taproom is currently an old restaurant with a residence on top. We’re tearing out a portion of the residence floor to make a mezzanine overlooking the main floor.

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

This is where Josh plans to listen to your problems.

The bar features 12 taps, 2 of which will be casks, some of which will be guest spots, and 1 of which will be connected to Doug’s veins. On the left is a small prep area reserved for finger foods courtesy of Food Noise, who makes healthy versions of the awful food we enjoyed in college. The chairs will be drop-top cherry Cadillac love seats capable of sitting 2 or 3 people, or 1 Angus lying down.

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

Good robot brewing company wrought iron craft microbrewery north end halifax nova scotia taproom

The view from the comedian.

The back end is adjacent to huge windows which allow you to watch your day disappear in real time. The booths will be loaded with posters of various festivals and shows we’d love to attend if we had the foresight to know we will never travel again.

We’re shooting for a September opening, but given the rate of our current accomplishments, I’d wager we open in early 2018. So strap on your hover-boots and gravitate your way here. Schedules are overrated. So is growing up.

By in Uncategorized 3

The Floatation Centre Review: Dive, Drift, Awake

I have a brain that, in the words of my favourite stand-up, won’t shut the fuck up. Teachers, bosses and friends have called me absent-minded, but it’s almost the opposite of that. It’s absent-bodied. I’m often unaware of my surroundings because I frequent my head, which can often be a negative place. The added stress of running a business compounds that tenfold. Sometime last summer during a breakdown, I began meditating. By picturing myself as a mountain and my thoughts as passing clouds, I developed an ability to better control my brain. For many months, I was able to set aside some time each day to focus on my breathing and control the negative thoughts attacking my brain like so many lipases attacking my fat cells (sorry – I’m eating Domino’s cheesy bread). Once construction began and the brewery opened, it became near-impossible to find a time or place to meditate.

 

Good Robot Brewing Company wrought iron brewing microbrewery craft beer halifax nova scotia north end cigar

I love running (not pictured) and cigars (pictured) because they allow me to focus on something simple and enjoyable while letting my thoughts roam.

Last week, I saw one of my favourite stand-up comics, Tig Notaro. I did not enjoy myself. Tig was on point, but I wasn’t. With opening week and Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week insanity, my mind was overloaded. I could not focus. I barely even laughed. Given my passion for stand-up, I knew something was wrong. Enter The Floatation Centre.

 

The Floatation Centre Good Robot Brewing Company sensory deprivation float tank wrought iron North End halifax nova scotia

Tig Notaro

I first met Lindsay through Ladies Beer League. So, yes, this is a shameful plug. But it’s an earnest, shameful plug. Lindsay’s mantra – Attack with Love – fits her personality like tangy marinara fits a hot, toasty piece of Domino’s cheesy bread (again, sorry). She has a heart of gold and only wishes the best for everyone. Meditative floating is a natural extension for her.

 

The Floatation Centre Good Robot Brewing Company Wrought Iron Halifax Nova Scotia North End microbrewery craft beer

Across the street from the crematorium. One-stop shopping.

During floating, you rest inside an insulated tank filled with a heavy saline solution. You float, so your sense of touch is suspended, and the insulated chamber prevents much sound or light from entering. Since you shower beforehand, smell plays little role, and your only taste may be a bit of that salty brine if some should touch your lips, a lovely precursor to the Domino’s cheesy bread you will no doubt enjoy afterwards for only $5.99. In other words, your brain has no distractions. Some people hallucinate. Others experience nothing but a calming silence. My journey wasn’t mystical, and I’m hesitant to call it enjoyable, but it was necessary.

 

The Floatation Centre Good Robot Brewing Company sensory deprivation float tank wrought iron North End halifax nova scotia

My home.

During the first few moments of floating, my mind was, in Angus’ words, a Rolodex of superficial problems. Did I mention to that customer that our gose is gluten-free? Was I nice enough to that bar manager? Did I wipe front to back? After these initial problems, problems that often seem urgent yet are not all-that important, my mind drifted to deeper problems. When did I last chat with my mother? Is a craft beer ambassador a glorified drug dealer? Will I ever be honest with myself? As the questions became increasingly heavier, my heart raced faster and breathing intensified. Eventually, the truly deep-seated problems, the ones we put on the back-burner and cover up with busy work, floated to the surface, problems I’d rather not discuss in a brewery blog post. Overwhelming waves of sadness and aggression eroded my senses until suddenly, BAM! A strange and sudden stillness. That eery calm after a huge storm. The closest thing I could describe it as is indifference, maybe even acceptance. It is what it is. Or better yet, as worded by my favourite TV drama…

 

 

Business and busyness are rarely, if ever, separate. Entrepreneurs often possess a dissatisfaction with the status quo, and in some cases, this dissatisfaction stems from something deeper. A broken heart. A painful childhood. A lack of cheesy bread. We often cover our problems with day to day tasks that keep the forefront of our minds occupied while purposely neglecting the painful undertones. I’ve been so busy for so long that I’ve been neglecting many of these undertones, which can erupt in toxic ways if not addressed. Lindsay tearfully told me of an older gentleman who was recently in a car accident which dramatically affected his nervous system. He was constantly fearful and the promise of a meditative, relaxing journey sounded promising. He tried floating today for the first time and said it was the first serenity he’s experienced since the accident.

 

Lindsay MacPhee good robot brewing company the floatation centre halifax nova scotia north end wrought iron craft beer microbrewery

Attack with love.

As I left my session, Tycho was playing through the lobby, which was funny in a sad way. I used to listen to Tycho on my morning bus routes through the grey, rainy Seattle fog on my way to a job I didn’t like. The surreal, melancholic, almost dream-like quality of the music fit my mood perfectly. I would think to myself, I finished engineering school. I got the engineering job. I’m making money. Domino’s is open 24/7. Why am I unhappy? The brewery seemed like the ticket, an external patsy to an internal conspiracy. Don’t get me wrong – I’m much better suited and happier in my current life, but the same feelings of emptiness that haunted me on those lonely bus rides came pouring over me again tonight during my float session. I made a promise to myself to make floating a regular part of my life. Self-improvement may be a bit strong of a goal, but self-acceptance is as important and difficult.

 

 

Meditation and floating pack amazing benefits, both physical and mental. Do yourself a favour. Visit Lindsay and float on. Grab a session with Dr. Tara while you’re there. And afterwards, be sure to try Domino’s new Mix & Match Cheesy Bread deal for only $7.99.

 

Domino's cheesy bread

Namaste.

By in Branding, Brewing, Construction 7

Brewery Construction Update 4: The 11th Hour

We’re one more week away from opening and two more mistakes away from aneurisms. The last month has been hellish. It’s difficult to even laugh at the situation, but that’s our only defence mechanism at this point, so here goes nothing.

Our timing has always been off. We studied the night before exams. We show up at bars after last call. I plan on marrying at 72, then again at 76. But this past month has truly pushed us to the limit, beginning with our equipment arrival. After several delays due to inclement weather (which we predicted in our last construction update), our equipment arrived during a record-setting snowfall at rush hour on the busiest street in Halifax. The tilt-deck truck got stuck, blocking off all of Robie St. for 45 minutes while we frantically tried to dig it out. A skidsteer attempted to pull the truck out, but also got stuck in the process.

Tilt_Deck_Truck_Stuck_in_Driveway_and_Skidsteer_Helping_Out

Inside the brewery was another nightmare. The tanks were too tall to tilt, plus the tilt chain seized up. The HVAC had to be removed and reinstalled to finish the job.

Fermenter tank stuck at Good Robot Brewing Company Wrought Iron in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia craft brewery beer microbrewery

We thought we calculated the heights correctly. There’s a reason we’re no longer engineers.

Like the Amityville series, the nightmare continues. Since the burner on the kettle is propane-fired and American-made, it required a CSA approval inspection and sticker. No problem. We knew this last July and planned accordingly. The week of our CSA inspection, the inspector had a massive heart attack. (We’ve since found out the inspector, Andrew Johnson, has passed away. Rest in peace, friend.) With no replacement in Atlantic Canada available and Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week just around the corner, Angus pulled every string he could, negotiating between Irving Propane, Office of the Fire Marshal, and DME (equipment supplier) to obtain a temporary brewing licence by installing myriad additional safety features. The whole ordeal is too exhausting for a blog post, but Angus would love to tell you in person over a pint sometime. Most importantly, we could brew beer once the system was commissioned.

Good Robot Wrought Iron Brewing Company Halifax Nova Scotia North End Don Barnone DME

Don, owner of Barnone Brewing and tech. at DME.

DME sent Don (beauty) of Barnone Brewing – you may remember him from our trip to PEI last summer – to help commission our system. Day 1 went flawlessly and we celebrated our first victory in ages with wild beers at Stillwell and wild grinding at Reflections. Six hangovers and one lost wallet later, we began brewing beer – eight batches in seven days as required to meet our opening demand while still staying within the confines of our temporary burner approval – and encountered nearly every brewing problem in the books: a clogged mill, improper readings, insufficient water, and a stuck sparge. Lucky for us that Doug has an able-hand at brewing and managed to salvage everything.

Angus heating fermenter at Good Robot Wrought Iron Brewing Company microbrewery craft brewery Halifax Nova Scotia North End beer craft

Pictured: Angus blasting the fermenter with 88 deg. C water to bring it up to room temperature.Not pictured: Doug shitting himself. 

The biggest horror came when some silly goose decided to turn off the heaters in our brewery and the temperature dropped overnight. Yeasts are like Florida retirees: they like consistent warmth. We tried every trick in the book to bring the tanks back to room temperature. We jacked the hydronic heaters. We rented a 65,000-BTU propane heater. We blasted the tanks with high-temperature water from a heating element. We jogged on the spot. The air was hot, thick and sugary, like a Candy Land rainforest. We didn’t sleep that night, possibly because we were jacked on sugar fumes. But it worked. The yeast recovered. With three weeks until opening date, we had beer brewing.

Banner - Good Robot painting out Wrought Iron - way smaller brewing craft brewery microbrewery beer Halifax Nova Scotia North End Wrought Iron

ρB the Robot up to no good.

Do you like migraines? So do we. With all the ongoing construction and brewing mayhem, we thought, Hey – We’re opening in two weeks. Why not completely change our company name, brand and logo? With the guiding hand of our amazing taproom designers and branding affiliates, Breakhouse, we found a direction that worked better for us. Insane Masochist Brewing Company was taken, but Good Robot seemed to fit the bill, too. This also meant all our suppliers of glassware, merchandise, signage, tap handles and other paraphernalia could share in the migraine. We owe back rubs to Tom of Jymline, Jenna and Jake of eyecandy, Nigel of Fresh Prints, Sean Lanzner of Maritime Labels and Packaging, Roger of Atlantic Digital, and everyone else that has tolerated our childish nonsense. We also owe a huge thanks to our college buddy Marc Clauser who flew in from Toronto to help us out with everything. In some cases, the damage was already done.

Good Robot Wrought Iron brewing company craft beer microbrewery Halifax North End Nova Scotia kegs

Anyone care to make an offer on 300 kegs branded with Wrought Iron Brewing Company?

In sixth grade, I pooped my pants. I was a little on the brown side of ripe to be pulling a stunt like that and my reputation suffered. But I bounced back by laughing at myself and inviting people to join in on the laughter. That’s all we can do at this point. That’s all we can do at any point in life where everything seems to be crashing down. We’re human. We make mistakes. We’re one week away from opening and we’ve put ourselves through a hell of a grind. But we have a brewery, a brand, and most importantly, we’ve got beer. Really good beer. We can’t wait for you to taste it next week at Nova Scotia Craft Beer Week and at our brewery on Saturday, May 9th. Come drink at your expense and laugh at ours.

good robot wrought iron brewing company craft beer microbrewery Halifax Nova Scotia North Endgood robot wrought iron brewing company craft beer microbrewery Halifax Nova Scotia North EndCheers, mates.

 

By in Construction 6

Brewery Construction Update 3: Ándale! Ándale! Mami, E.I. E.I. Uh-ohhhhh!

What’s popping tonight? I’ll tell ya what: another Wrought Iron Brewing Company brewery construction update, hopefully the last before our full equipment arrives. Last summer, we laughed when industry folk said we wouldn’t open until summer 2015 or later. As usual, experience trumped hubris and we are being forced to swallow our pride. Thankfully, we have some pretty tasty beer to wash it down with.

 

Eugene of Harbourview Electrical boosting a car at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Eugene and Trevor of Harbourview Electrical are a pleasure to work with. They’ve gone above and beyond their scope, holding up Robie St. traffic to help vehicles enter our driveway, off-loading equipment from trucks and even buying us coffees. Plus, they bicker, laugh and swear all day like an old married couple of sailors. Here’s Gene boosting the electrical inspector’s car. Wrought irony.

Our last brewery construction update indicated equipment was arriving in two weeks. I’m not a fan of internet initialisms, but LOL! Here’s a fun game you can play at home: take a drink every time we mention “delay” in this post. On the positive, the delays [DRINK] have given us plenty of time to organise ourselves in-house.

 

Angus and three-phase power at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

We’ve upgraded to three-phase electrical. Equipment starters are delayed.

 

Propane at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Propane is in. CSA inspection is causing delays.

 

Mill at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Our mill arrived on time! Unfortunately, the mill room is delayed.

 

Angus, Doug, mash tun and kettle at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Mash tun and kettle are in! Burner is delayed.

 

Tom DeLay at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Tom DeLay.

 

The remaining equipment is scheduled to arrive Monday, March 16th. We’re shooting for a tentative opening date in late April. TENTATIVE. That is subject to weather delays, equipment delays, inspection delays, brewing delays and delays otherwise unaccounted for. If you’ve been playing our drinking game, you’re probably feeling pretty rosy now, so I’ll end it there. Beer will come. Beer always comes to those who love to drink.

 

Warehouse 1 at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia
Warehouse 2 at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft microbrewery in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

 

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Taproom Construction Update 1: Lofty Ideas

As construction continues unabated and equipment delays abound, we turn our attention to the first draft of our draft room. From day one, we knew the following about taproom construction:

  • The taproom should serve as the heart of the brewery, a place where we can educate and inebriate.
  • The taproom should serve quality beer without pretension, from table d’hote to table d’ancing.
  • Given our former careers as industrial engineers and our current careers as beer barons, we perceive the motif as industrial equipment overgrown with horticulture.
  • We do not want to be a brewpub. We want a food truck in the driveway, the option for patrons to bring in food from other establishments, and small finger foods to pad your stomachs but not our wallets.
  • We want a wrap-around patio overlooking the Robie Street hustle and a grass driveway.
  • The taproom should be a haven for free speech.
  • We will host events reflecting our personalities, including comedy nights, how-to tutorials from local merchants, silent reading and raging parties.
  • The western portion of the taproom will focus on the entrance and stage.
  • The eastern portion of the taproom will focus on the bar and street with small tables to encourage group seating.
  • The upstairs portion of the taproom will be used for washrooms and private events.
Taproom layout at Wrought Iron Brewing Company craft brewery in the North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

Our original taproom floor plan. Dimensions are imperial, like our pilsner.

We had ideas but lacked focus. Doug wanted classy. Angus wanted cozy. To me, a bar is like a cannonball competition: the divier, the better. We hired Breakhouse to help us organize. They are ridiculously fun to work with, dissecting even the most minute details of our social media to find the underlying personality and childhood trauma. After several meetings, Gord, Vince, Peter and Andrew helped us focus our thoughts and proposed some excellent ideas:

  • Replace the patio with a ground-level beer garden to eliminate the cityscape feel.
  • The western portion of the taproom should focus on washrooms given the limited size.
  • The eastern portion of the taproom should focus on the bar with a small fold-out stage and high-seats to encourage mingling.
  • The upstairs portion of the taproom can be torn out to create a loft overlooking the eastern taproom.
Wrought Iron Brewing Company in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia Taproom Layout - Breakhouse

Breakhouse: they know what they’re doing.

The taproom design is ongoing but we are excited about the prospects of having a local haunt. We’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, keep us posted. What do you like in a taproom?

By in Events, Taproom 3

Taproom Event 1: Silent Reading

As we finalize brewery construction and await our delayed equipment arrival, taproom design with the help of Breakhouse continues. Given the abysmal weather, a straight shot of Prozac is in order. Given the limits of our liquor licence, how about an uplifting blog post, instead?

 

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Taproom in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Needs work.

During my time in Seattle, I stumbled upon a cool idea: silent reading parties. For two hours once a month, The Fireside Room went dead-silent as its patrons stuck their noses in books and their tongues in martinis. It was like an imbibing library – an imbibrary – the perfect place for a guy like me with one book, two hours, three cocktails and zero friends. Being forced to remain in silence for two hours also doubled as a bizarre social stimulant: once the event wrapped, people began chatting. A lot. With strangers.

 

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Josh reading book in North End of Halifax, Nova Scotia

After two hours of Old Fashioneds, picture books were necessary.

Wrought Iron Brewing is proud to present the first of our many lofty and plagiarized event ideas, Silent Knights. For two hours once per month, we will shut down everything at the taproom except the taps, opening up the space for mixing Yeats with yeast. The North End will now have a haunt for those who are unsure whether they want to read a beer or drink a book. And if your idea of a good time doesn’t involve sitting silently in a room for two hours, fear not: more events are to follow. Check Our Events Calendar for other updates.

By in Construction 5

Brewery Construction Update 2: The Nightmare After Christmas

Ever have one of those months where your plumber concusses himself on your driveway, your trench drain sinks into the ground, your floors warp and your walls melt? Yeah, us too.

We’ve accomplished a lot since our first construction update. Myriad brewers warned us that the trench drain is the most crucial element of brewery construction; that no matter what, we should hire professionals and have it installed the proper way. Naturally, we installed it ourselves. End result? The grading is warped and little pools of liquid pile up. We can only hope gravity adjusts to our needs.

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Trench Drain 1

There’s the right way and the Wrought Iron way.

Digging the trench ourselves left us feeling elated, though that may have been the methane fumes from the gas-fired concrete saw.

 

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Concrete Saw Angus Construction

Burning gas indoors? What can go wrong?

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Angus Concrete Saw Construction Trench Drain

No, we did not find Fonda.

Wrought Iron Brewing Company Trench Drain Construction

Another Christmas in the trenches.

If you’ve never installed a trench drain yourself, the basic steps are:

  1. Don’t install a trench drain yourself.
  2. Call a professional.

Thankfully, we did have a professional: our buddy Alex, yet another friend we wouldn’t be here without. He helped install the trench drain and doors, plus hooked us up with Blake of Action Plumbing, who took a mean spill in our driveway, concussing himself and requiring an ambulance site visit. In his dizzied state, Blake still managed to fix our dripping hydronic lines and connect the trench to the existing sanitary line. What a beauty.

 

Alex and Angus install the trench drain at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Alex (left) and Angus.

Alex pouring concrete for trench drain at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

A concrete pun would be in pour taste.

Alex, Angus and Doug pouring concrete for trench drain during construction at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Insane in the trench drain.

Alex, Josh, Doug and Angus napping at trench drain construction at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

The Alex Burns Memorial Drain. Alex isn’t dead… yet.

The drain was a pain to construct. The rebar kept sinking into the soft soil. The individual lengths wouldn’t line up. Liquid continues to pile up just before the sanitary outlet. Still, the drain functions, which allowed us to move on to demolition, room framing and door mounting. The doors had to be installed, re-installed, and re-re-installed on account of improper sizing and orientation. Again, the fun of homegrown construction.

 

Alex, Angus and Doug installing doors during construction at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

Of the seven doors, these were the only two that fit as planned.

With the meat and potatoes constructed, it was time to put lipstick on the pig. Justin of New Wave Painting took care of the walls. He did an awesome job, but Halifax received a record amount of precipitation that day, causing the paint to drip and the entire warehouse to look like a scene from Suspiria. Stoncor tackled the floor prep. They did amazing work – including nights and weekends – but when we chose the colour scheme, we forgot that we’re opening a brewery and not a daycare.

 

Trench drain construction montage at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia

If you look closely, you can see that we should have hired a contractor.

In spite of everything, including:

  • methane highs,
  • improper floors,
  • improper doors,
  • drain pains,
  • re-re-re-installations,
  • paint drip,
  • plumber slip,
  • colour scheme from hell, and
  • an inch of concrete dust in our apartments,

we’re very proud of our construction. There’s a certain satisfaction to do-it-yourself that I’m not sure we’d have otherwise. Plus, with electrical and HVAC upgrades to go, there is ample room for more mayhem before our equipment arrives in two weeks and we begin upscaling our recipes. And to think: at this time last year, we were still writing the business plan.

 

Move-in day warehouse construction at Wrought Iron Brewing Company in Halifax, Nova Scotia PANO_20150203_114028

 

Got any good construction nightmare stories? Or for that matter, any good nightmare stories? How about tips regarding what we should have done? Do you have questions regarding construction at your business that we may be able to help with? Share it all in the comments section. We could use a good laugh.

 

By in Brewing, Construction, Finance, Friends 4

Leaves Must Fall Down: Bucks, Suds and Buds

Hi folks,

HOLY SHIT!!! We’ve got money, recipes and connections! Where can I even begin this blog post? How about with another excited outburst? MY GOOD GOD ALMIGHTY!!!

Sean (lawyer) drafting the Shareholder Agreement

Sean laying down the law.

 Now, I know you folks are dying to read about the regulations and provisions of our constitutional documents, so let’s talk turkey. We wouldn’t be here without the ever-scrupulous eyes of Marcel, our accountant, and Sean, our lawyer (pictured above). This guy is a wonder to behold. I almost want our company to get sued just to see him in action. Over the span of several months and one particularly gruelling eight-hour meeting, we covered everything one could hope to cover in corporate legalities. What happens if one of us dies? Gets sick? Switches professions? Falls in the woods and nobody’s around to hear? Even lighthearted banter is up for linguistic dissection. Take Sean’s favourite joke, for example: “A rabbi, a priest and a monk walk into a bar – WHEREAS

  1. Each of the parties hereto (also referred to as the “Subjects”) collectively are the subjects of the JOKE herein.
  2. The Bar (also referred to as the “Business”) carries on the business of a public house and related commercial activity.
  3. The Bar, to the fullest extent of its corporate capacity, has agreed to become a party to this JOKE agreed upon herein by the terms of this JOKE as they relate to the matters within its control.
  4. The aforementioned Subjects are presently all the Subjects in the Bar.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF the Parties hereto have executed this JOKE as of the day and year first above written.”

 Classic Sean. 

Mark, our BDC Account Manager, finalizing our equipment loan

Clearly a staged photo. That’s not even real paper.

With our shareholder money in place, the banks began dispersing their funds. Above, you’ll see our BDC Account Manager, Mark. He has been a gem throughout this process, which began in August 2012 and finished, in signature, on December 3, 2014. BDC is an amazing resource not only for funding, but planning and execution. They critiqued our business plan, marketing strategy, distribution tactics and general hygiene. The only real humps were proving to BDC that: 1) we are not a bar, which they do not finance (in Mark’s honour, we are considering naming the taproom the “Definitely Not A Bar Taproom”); and 2) Angus’ mother is not a crack dealer from Edmonton, as the background check indicated. No joke. Once BDC processed the brewing equipment financing loan, our Credit Union Atlantic rep, Krista – a sharp cookie – finalized our taproom renovations financing loan. We’re in the money. 

Doug, our brewer, checking the specific gravity of the wort

From college to career, Dixie cups have served us well.

Of course, what good is money without beer? After tweaking old recipes for months, we’ve finalized about five styles that we believe are ready for public consumption:

  • a hoppy, citrusy summer ale perfect for co-ed softball;
  • a dark, coffee- and chocolate-infused breakfast stout perfect for pancakes;
  • a hybrid ale-lager “steam” beer with a toffee nose and bitter end;
  • a salty, citrusy and wheaty gose made with brackish water; and
  • a warming, banana-heavy German weizenbock with big American hops. 
WIBC Brewery Layout - HVAC - Renovations

Our HVAC floor plan for the warehouse. Who says MS Paint is archaic?

 Of course, what’s a beer without a brewery? With Angus’ background in construction engineering and my background in exploiting Angus’ background, we designed and drafted our own floor plans. Working with Glen of Halifax Permitting, we completed our package and received our construction permits in early December. Angus has since been contracting out the work to tradesfolk and, in some instances, getting his hands dirty.   

Fire-rated ceiling coating

Since we live above the brewery, we had to apply a fire-protective epoxy coating to the partition. Apparently, a liability letter indicating we were okay to accept the risk of burning to death should the warehouse catch fire was unacceptable.

 Of course, what’s a brewery without people? The greatest satisfaction of the past few months has come from all the personal and professional connections we’ve made. Alexander Henden of Local Connections Halifax invited us to showcase our beer at both his 12 Beers of Christmas holiday party and the Craft Beer and Local Food Celebration in January, which will mark Wrought Iron’s official public debut. Lindsay, Pam and Tracy of Ladies Beer League have drank, donated and danced their way into our hearts. Every time we run into Todd “The Beer Dude” Beal of Maritime Beer Report, we feel as if we just slipped into a bathtub that is just the right temperature. Another blogger, Chris McDonald of Atlantic Canada Beer Blog, invited us to our first meeting with the Brewnosers, a group of beer and homebrew enthusiasts. These dudes really know their beer and Doug and I were nervous heading in, but they were gracious, welcoming and, uh, candid with their feedback. Chris also shared one of the most interesting beer styles I’ve ever tried: a light, sour and smoky beer known as a “grätzer”. The sourness pairs nicely with Chris’ sweet disposition.

Canada Malting Group event - Garrison, Sea Level

Canada Malting Group event.

 Perhaps most amazing about the community is the support from other brewers, people who, by all rights, should be stomping on us. John, Josh, Andrew and Mike of Propeller Brewery hosted an awesome party at their place, including a private tour and wine barrel sniffing with Chris of Stillwell. Brian, Kellye (pictured above, second from left), Alex and the rest of the team at Garrison Brewing have been generous with their business advice and bourbon cocktails, while their head brewer, Daniel, has the most infectious laugh in the city. Kevin of Granite Brewery offered a spot in Craft Beer Week and a hit of his e-cigarette. Emily of Boxing Rock welcomed us into the Nova Scotia Craft Brewers Association with open hearts and livers. Jeff of Bad Apple Brewhouse, Greg Nash, and Hans of Jost Vineyards and Tatamagouche Brewing Co. have contributed construction tips and commiserated about legislation woes. We shared many laughs with Randy and his wife, Kathy, of Sea Level Brewing, who are pictured above dead-centre. Jake of (Rockbottom Brew Pub) gave us perhaps the funniest brewing advice to date: your beer doesn’t have to be consistent, just good. Lorne “Lefty” Romano (pictured below) of Rogues Roost always pops by to share tales, ales and Cuban cigars, as well as to bust our balls about hop additions. I’ve previously sung the praises of Don (Barnone Brewing) and Jeremy (Big Spruce Brewing) who continue to aid us and others. The list goes on and on, and there are still many brewers and reps we’re looking forward to meeting.

Josh, Lorne Romano (Rogue's Roost) and Doug brewing.

Brewing up trouble. And wort.

 One relationship worth mentioning as a send-off here is that of me and the boys. Countless people warned me not to open a brewery with my friends and the last six months have been the most trying of my life. It’s difficult to separate business from pleasure, especially when the business is beer, and the boys and I have undergone everything from simple disagreements to damn-near physical altercations. And yet, we continue to persevere. We air our grievances. We tackle our demons. Our friendship supersedes our partnership. I love these lads, which means taking the good with the bad and making something work in the face of overwhelming odds. And in the event we do end up murdering each other, at least we’re insured for $3 million.

HSSC co-ed softball team, "Poundin' Iron"

HSSC co-ed softball team, “Poundin’ Iron”.

 

Josh and Angus, friends 4 life.

Josh and Angus at The Foggy Goggle.

 

Angus and Doug at Bluenose Ghosts Festival.

Angus and Doug at Bluenose Ghosts Festival.

 

Angus, Doug and Nichy roughhousing.

A game of Kings gone wrong.

Oh, and Nichy’s a doggone saint for living with us.

Nichole playing with a dog.

 

Merry Christmas, folks. Thank you for everything.

Christmas at Wrought Iron Brewery.

 

 

 

Brewery Construction Update! Plus, Motivation and Smiling

Construction has begun! But first, I have some thoughts on entrepreneurship. Let’s stroke my ego and see if I can tie the themes together. Last week, I found out that something I had been working towards was delayed by several months. I felt defeated. I ended up eating 17 days worth of my Kinder Chocolate Advent Calendar in one sitting, almost as if I cared only about the goal and not the journey, or as if I cared only about the imaginative Kinder toy and not the silky, smooth chocolate egg made with simple ingredients like high-quality cocoa, real sugar, and a heart of visibly milky filling that melts in your mouth and embraces your taste buds.

 

 

The other night, my friend asked me, “How do you stay motivated?” I didn’t have an answer. I’m not feeling particularly motivated right now and the bleak weather has me longing for New Orleans, so I just took a step outside to smoke and listen to Tom Waits. I saw another smoker across the way. She looked miserable. I began wondering why I never smile when I smoke, nor do I smile when I listen to music, which is odd since they’re both sources of pleasure. I forced myself to smile. I stood there grinning like an idiot on our patio for three minutes as the noon traffic rolled by and I started to feel better. (Smiling, even forced, releases serotonin. Give it a try right now.)

Angus grinding the bay doors

Angus be on his grind.

As I stood there grinning like I had gone batshit, two businessdudes in peacoats crossed the street to visit The Coastal for lunch. It was closed. They were devastated (understandably so – have you tried their Buffalo Chicken?). The dudes spent a good two minutes double-checking the door lock, hours of operation, windows for any movement… Those poor souls had dreamt of a good lunch all morning, maybe all week. If they could just have this one thing, they thought they would be happy. My ridiculous grimace turned to uncontrollable cackling as I realized how I stay motivated: living for the moment.

 

Wrought Iron Brewing Company - Construction - Angus chipping warehouse floor with chipping hammer

Angus be on his chip.

When I work, I’m not focused on finishing the work, but rather doing the work. The end goal is just icing on the cake. Right now, we’re not focused on getting our brewing equipment or modelling our taproom. We’re focused on construction, which is fun, especially when you don’t have the proper tools for it.

We received our construction permit last week. A great reward, sure, but the joy was in doing the work ourselves: designing and drafting the systems and contracting out the work to people more capable than us. We tore up our floor to scope out our trench drain. We fixed our bay door arches. We had some beers and did a little crude demolition. We’ve contracted trades to upgrade our trusses, fire-proof our ceiling and upgrade our security system. Soon, we’ll be upgrading HVAC, upgrading to three-phase electrical, upsizing water utility, installing propane lines, digging out a manhole for effluent samples, and otherwise bringing the building up to code. Sure, we’re not ready to brew, but we’re having a pretty damn good time.

Take that guy, in the video. Is he concerned about paychecks, timelines or even basic safety? No. He’s living in the moment. So the next time you see me smoking and cackling like an idiot, or river-dancing on a rotating piece of 2×4, just know I’m enjoying myself. And maybe a little blitzed.