So our summer work is done. I’ve been back in Darby, MT for a week now.
I very smartly started ALL our permits before we hit the road for about 6 weeks and while stressful to get everything ready in such a short time- We are getting close to be a legal brewery! Watch out Budweiser, here we come!
The State of Montana has been pretty straightforward and has thus far kept pace with the Federal permit process. I think we are in the last stage of a final audit before we are approved. Yesterday I emailed a list of corrections/modifications the FED’s requested. This ‘should’ be the last step before we have our final ‘interview’ and then administrative approval. It could be two weeks, it could be two months.
Today was a big day here at the job site! I met with an electrician to set up the job. He said the job was so quick he would just bill hourly. In addition he offered his electric scissor lift for beer trade (beer- it’s kinda like gold) so I could install the rusty old corrugated panels on the nasty ceiling.
I arranged a plumber to start work on saturday for the in slab plumbing (again beer trade) and I met with out local Environmental Health person (the director actually) here at the building for a pre-inspection walk through. No problems there- he OK’d the plan. I just wrapped a meeting with our site excavator. He’s going to clean up the site and lay rock for the parking areas.
Tomorrow I head to Missoula to meet with a graphic designer who is excited to design beer labels. I need a logo to put on the building and I’m hoping she’s reasonable. I’ll pick up more grain for some more ‘home brewing’ to keep the contractor beer’ed up!
I made a HUGE SCORE our last week of work. All our crews convened at the Wyoming State Fair in Douglas. I had been cruising craigslist for my list of goodies and saw a food processing plant auction in Billings, MT. I got up at 3 am and drove 5 hours to arrive before it started at nine. There was SO MUCH STAINLESS STEEL! People weren’t bidding on any of it and I bought 3 truck loads of stainless for less than scrap value. I picked up a tank that I’ll turn into a Carbonating Tank for the beer. I picked up a 200 gallon kettle that I might sell for 300% what I paid for it. I picked up 2 stainless sanitary pumps. I really went to the auction looking for a walk-in cooler. The walk-ins went up for auction last. When it finally came up- I got outbid for every one (8 of them)! A guy came up to me and asked if I was interested in buying a walk-in and said he had one for sale for $1200. We went and took a look and it was actually THREE Walk-In Coolers from a Conoco Convenience Store. What’s more- they were already on trailers and he let me use the trailers no charge! I ended up buying 4 evaporator fans for another $400 and paid his father-in-law to tow one (of the two) trailers to Darby (another 6 hours each way).
By the end of the day I had a truck full of stainless, a trailer full of Walk-In bits and pieces, and 6more hours to driving. It rained the whole way! I finally rolled into Darby at 3:30am- 24.5 hours after I left Douglas that previous morning. Tiernan (my seasonal helper) and I unloaded two trucks and two trailers of stuff then head to Hamilton to spend the night at my Mom’s (did I mention she moved to Hamilton from Maryland in June?). We did some odds and ends there and then I crashed! We got up at 5am and hit the road back to Billings. I dropped the trailer, picked up another truck load of stainless and headed back to Douglas to arrive there by 8pm.
I feel like a long haul trucker.
We wrapped to another great fair and I drove Tiernan to Denver for his flight home. I had previously contracted a company, Dairy Engineering, to make me a 120 gallon stainless tank. While I was there they refurbished one of the stainless pumps I bought. Then I drove 9 hours back to Billings! The next day another 6 back to Darby.
The last week I’ve been trying to catch up on sleep, pay all the bills, and work out a schedule and budget for getting the brewery doors open! I’m going out on a limb to get our little residence finished up before the cold really hits. I think we are going to sell our little 18′ bumper trailer. Trailers like ours are really hard to find because hunters snap them up-especially before hunting season starts (another month or so). I think we’ll sell one or two of our little trailers and maybe even the Land Cruiser if we need to make sure we have enough cash to be able to buy grain once the brewery opens.
SO- Wednesday I meet with graphic designers. Thursday I cut concrete. Friday I cut a new doorway. Saturday I prime. Sunday I paint. Monday I grind the floors and Tuesday I clear coat. Wednesday I set up the Walk-in Cooler. Thursday I frame the bathroom and mop closet…..You know an ICE COLD draft beer in Mexico is a very affordable price of approximately $1.25! Click Here to Buy Us a Beer.