Behind the Barn Door: The Haw River Blog

filed under: Events, Sustainability, Kickstarter
posted by: Ben Woodward

A Long Overdue Progress Update

In case you haven't noticed yet, it's already 2014. Yep.

To say that "time is flying" is a rather exaggerated understatement on our end. Over the past few months, we've hosted a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise some last-minute funds for a few pieces of pretty nifty specialty equipment, finalized our construction plans and gotten started on construction, taken receipt of a whole bunch of our brewery equipment, and started working on some really cool plans for our grand opening weekend.

Kickstarter screen capture

1. You guys Kickstarted us like a champ (or rather 442 champs)! When we launched our 30-day Kickstarter campaign on November 8th, we had no idea how supportive our friends and fans were gonna be, and you guys exceeded our expectations all over the place, and in a huge way.

Because of the generosity of our backers, we're now going to be able to use human energy to power our grain mill, use solar energy to pre-heat our brewing water (called "liquor" in the biz) and use a fancy contraption created by Pioneer Energy to turn some of our waste gas into usable CO2. We're going to formalize and implement our Farmhand Exchange program from opening day, allowing us to work hand-in-hand with local farmers and craftspeople in our own community to source many of the ingredients we'll use in our beers and sodas (and we're working on neat side ideas because of this as well... Beer CSA, anyone?). We're also putting together plans to deliver kegs and bottles to your favorite bars and bottle shops using waste vegetable oil, and because we exceeded our $33,800 goal, we're going to use the extra donations to put a compost bin in place to create nutrient-rich soil from the skins, rinds and other organic waste we generate each brew day.

Because of everyone's generosity and willingness to play a key role in what we're doing, Haw River Farmhouse Ales is on track to become a much better brewery, and we—quite literally—couldn't have done it without everyone's help. If you requested one, but haven't received your complementary copy of All About Beer magazine yet (the one with our big public "thank you" in it), let us know and we'll see what we can do to fix that (or if you're so inclined, you can pick one up off the periodical shelf at just about any local bookstore for a few bucks). We also have made a nice high resolution Jpeg image (8.1 MB) available, in case you'd like to have a digital copy for yourself. The rest of your rewards are being printed or produced as you read this, so we'll keep everyone posted on when things are ready to send out (or pick up—we're hoping to set aside a nice spring day soon to allow folks to head into Saxapahaw to pick your rewards up and get a sneak-peek at the brewery space, once everything's ready... we'll update folks as we know more).

Floor plan layout

2. Our plans are final and construction has begun! Working with the super-talented folks at Alphin Design Build and Plus Architecture, we spent the majority of late last year fine-tuning our brewery layout, equipment setup plans, ventilation, piping, plumbing, and 1001 other tiny details that pop up when you're planning a brewery. Took us a bit longer than we'd hoped, but we ended up with a few really awesome "last minute" ideas that are going to make the eventual brewery so much better, so it'll all be worth it in the end.

To check out a whole bunch of photos we've snapped of our floor being cleared for plumbing and trench drains, as well as a really great series from the creation of a new doorway, head on over to the Photo Album we're updating on our Facebook page! And stay tuned for more updates soon—we'll update the Facebook album as we get going on different facets of the brewery over the next few weeks!


3. A whole bunch of our equipment has arrived! Within the last two weeks, we've received our electric Crown forklift, three stainless steel 20-barrel fermenters and our first brite tank, our 2-barrel electric Stout pilot system, two French oak foeders custom built just for us by the best folks in the biz, Tonnellerie Radoux of France, as well as our 10-barrel production system from Premier Stainless Systems in California. And there's more on the way!

Because we're still in the midst of our actual build-out, we had to get a little creative with short-term storage of some of this equipment, so big thanks goes out to our buddies at Deep River Brewing Company in Clayton and Buckner Steel Companies in Graham for allowing us to tuck our stuff in safely for just a little while. As soon as our space is ready and our floor is prepared (hopefully sometime around late February, give or take), we'll be able to move everything back into our space and get things in place, then piped up and tested, and finally get ready to start making delicious beer for all you guys and gals.

4. We're putting together some great ideas for our grand opening weekend. We know you're eager for us to be open; we share your excitement. And we're getting closer every day, we promise. No date just yet on exactly what weekend that grand opening will be, and here's why: Because we've had so much interest in the day we finally get our doors open, we're making sure everyone's gonna be well taken care of, so we're hoping to reserve the Haw River Ballroom just next door and hosting a few events outside, so everyone has a chance to enjoy a beer or two in comfort. If we tried to squeeze all of you into our tasting room, we'd be in trouble. :)

So the way we're working on things for our grand opening weekend, we'll have our Barn Raisers in first, on a Friday afternoon/evening for their special private event (if you're a Barn Raiser, this is the event the ticket you received in your box with the raffle number will allow you access to... more details in an email just to Barn Raisers soon), and then when we open to the public the following day (Saturday), we'll have a ton of fun stuff planned. Special "one-off" collaborations with other NC breweries, casks from friends planning to open their own breweries soon (with revenues going to the charities of their choice), live music, food pairings (and maybe a special brunch on Sunday), food trucks and special events all weekend, all over Saxapahaw. We're working on getting everything lined up as the buildout is moving forward, so as we get details finalized, we'll keep everyone posted via social media as early as possible, so you can plan ahead early. We want to make sure we see you here.

Thanks again for everyone's support as we get a little closer to pushing right past the finish line (or the starting line, rather)! Getting closer every day! Cheers!