Starting a brewery is a process that involves the careful balancing of a lot of variables. Progress in any one area often seems interdependent on progress in other areas, and that is probably the main reason why the advice everyone gives to new breweries is “it’s going to take longer than you expect, no matter how long you expect it to take!”
That said, even though our pace of progress can feel glacially-slow at times, according to the benchmarks of other breweries, we’re actually hurtling along at a break-neck speed. Right now we are just a few days away from getting a final decision on our financing application, and we’ve lined up a bunch of dominos that we’re ready to knock over as soon as we get the green light on our funding. It’s no longer a question of “can we find a space in Seattle?”, because we have at least one that definitely meets our requirements and a couple more we are negotiating on to see if we can’t make the picture even more rosy. We can move forward with a lease signing as soon as we are satisfied that we’re getting the best deal.
What is perhaps even more exciting to a bunch of gear geeks like ourselves is that we have selected a system fabricator: Marks Design & Metalworking in Vancouver, WA. What really sealed the deal was taking a trip to their facility last week. They rolled out the red carpet for us–we got to shake hands with their entire office staff, chat with their design and sales staff about our unique needs, learn about some of the unique features that make their products stand out, and tour their cavernous workshop (“hangar” might be a better word–you could park a zeppelin in there with room to spare!). Marks is the epitome of American industry–all their products are custom fabricated to order here in the U.S. with only American steel. They provide to many industry giants, as evidenced by some truly massive tanks in process on their floor–the largest was a 750-barrel fermenter that was approximately the size of an ICBM!
The service provided by their staff was just unbelievable – they made us feel like we were their only customers for the almost two and a half hours we were there. Not only did they show us confidence that they could meet our special needs, they seemed genuinely excited about finding ways to tackle our challenges in the most elegant and effective way possible. That is really important to us, because our unique brewing process could be a total nightmare if the brewhouse doesn’t work exactly as we need it to. We need some special features that might be utterly unique to our brewhouse, so having a fabricator that has led the industry in innovation–and who can offer us significant post-installation support in case something doesn’t work as expected–is essential to our success.
Beyond that, we’ve continued to work hard on recipe development and budgeting and are close to final recipes on our brown, stout, and IPA. There has been an immense amount of negotiation between Ghostfish and our ingredient suppliers and we have finally arrived at comfortable pricing that will allow us to make amazing all-grain gluten-free beer and sell it at a price point that should be comfortable for our customers, without sacrificing the quality or integrity of our ingredients.
Stay tuned to this blog for pending updates on our funding and lease signing!
And lastly, a gratuitous shot of some American-made stainless brewing equipment from Marks’ work floor: