Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman

Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. by Ken Grossman

Author:Ken Grossman
Language: eng
Format: mobi
Tags: Entrepreneurship, Management, Business & Economics, Small Business
ISBN: 9781118007365
Publisher: Wiley
Published: 2013-08-08T07:00:00+00:00

Getting Bigger and Better

Over the next few years, I found myself focusing on our ability to increase and maximize production. The pressure to grow continuously was compounded by the addition of our third child, Brian. With my energies split between work and home, I still had to figure out how to get close to 10,000 barrels of beer per year out of the original 2,500-barrel brewery to have enough sales to justify the million-dollar investment we thought it would take to grow Sierra Nevada to the next level, which would involve essentially starting over from scratch and building a new brewery from the ground up. The original Gilman Way building was only 3,000 square feet when we leased it, and we had added on another 495 square feet just to barely cram in the bottling line. Our office was a 10-by-10-foot space, and at times Paul, Harrison, and I all worked in it. The office also served as the main entrance to the brewery, so there were always people passing through. We had framed clean rooms inside the metal shell for our lab that gave us a crude second floor for storage over much of it, but the access was up a wooden ladder, so it wasn’t very convenient and was crammed full of equipment.

We needed space to expand production, but we hadn’t purchased all the new equipment we’d need or have a final equipment layout yet. When the metal buildings on either side of us became available, we moved into them: first one, then the other. They were cheaply constructed, uninsulated structures, so we had to make improvements if we wanted to use the space for more than boxes or empty bottle storage. The extra space allowed us to move our office, refrigerated beer storage, maintenance shop, and general warehouse area out of the brewery and free up production space. The brewery was turning into a shantytown full of jury-rigged equipment and infrastructure. The building didn’t have the industrial three-phase power that was required for some of the equipment, so I had hooked up several used transformers. The water line to the building was undersized and kept breaking due to being poorly installed. I solved that problem when I rented a trencher and ran 500 feet of new pipe to the meter early one morning without telling anyone. Still, everything I bought was used and installed with the notion that it wasn’t permanent. I stationed as much equipment in the dirt lot out back as I could to allow more room for fermentation indoors. I ran pipes to several dairy tanks that served as my hot water storage system, and I used an old ice builder that I had found at an auction for wort cooling.3

Because we had made so many improvements to our facility over the years, I was reluctant to get the city involved with permits or inspections when the larger scale work began. Instead, I justified and approached our projects as temporary structures. I built a new malt room on timbers that allowed me to pick it up and move it with a forklift.


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