Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year's Eve

Starting out New Year's Eve with our latest batch; an IPA brewed with all Citra hops. Hope you're drinking something crafty tonight. Have a safe and happy holiday.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Christmas At The Brewery

The brewery received its first gift this week.  A handcrafted wooden sign.  We think it came out great.  Thanks for the support.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Great Defrost

Following an extended visit from old man winter, we spent the last couple days waiting for a visit from Mr. Plow.  We put the time to good use and got our Facebook page up, so check it out if that's your thing.  

Also, our website is coming along least that's what our designer is telling us.  More updates to come soon.  Stay warm.  

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Before

The building that will house our brewery is located in the Sunset Industrial Park in Ocean, NJ—less than three miles east of the beaches and boardwalk of beautiful Asbury Park.  We will occupy about 7,000 square feet of the 11,000 square feet that we share with two other businesses.   

Our space is really broken into two sections; the front offices and the back warehouse.  The office space is accessible from the large front parking lot through a shared lobby.   There is about 1,000 square feet of low end office space broken into two office or conference rooms, a large storage closet and a bathroom.  In this space we plan to keep the smaller of the two rooms as office space and turn the larger of the two rooms and the closet into retail space. 

The retail space leads to the 6,000 square feet warehouse that will be the heart of the brewery.  While the office space up front was an added bonus, the selling point of this space was the warehouse area.  

The back warehouse is about 5,500 square feet of clear span space with 18-20 foot ceilings, concrete slab flooring, two overhead doors and access to three phase power, natural gas, city water and sewer. 

There is also a 500 square foot temperature controlled back room that we plan to use to bottle condition some of our beers. 

It a little more space than we planned on taking but we really like the location and the lay out of the building and hope we can grow into it over the coming years.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Home Grown

Part of our brewing philosophy is to try to incorporate as many locally grown and / or sourced ingredients into our beers as possible.  It’s something that I did as a home brewer and plan to continue to do at the brewery.  I began growing my own hops three years ago to experiment with using wet hops in my beers. 

Wet hops are hops that are used fresh shortly after being picked from the bines (as a side note, a bine is a climbing plant that differs from a vine, in short, in how it attaches itself to and climbs around its support).  Unlike the majority of hops grown, they do not undergo any drying or processing after they are harvested.  They are extremely perishable and will only last a few days. 

Wet hops add a distinct flavor and aroma to beer and wet hopped beers are unique because they can only be made following harvest.  Traditionally most breweries that make wet hop beers have arrangements with hop growers to ship the freshly picked hops straight to the brewery for use.  These days a small number of craft breweries are growing their own hops for these unique beers.    

Over the past three seasons I have added and changed some of the hop varieties in my yard based on growth patterns and personal preference.  This year I added Columbus which brought my total to two planters each of Cascade, Chinook, Nugget, and Columbus hop varieties.  In early September I harvested about ten pounds of these four varieties.    

Since my maximum batch size is only ten gallons and I didn’t want to dry any of them, I decided to shoe-horn all the hops into two different American-style IPA recipes.

This season's results on both the yields and the beers were our best yet and we're pretty excited to see what we can do next season on a larger scale.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Hard To Find

One thing I was certain about when I began thinking about the brewery was that I wanted it to be located on the coast of New Jersey.  I grew up in the area and my wife and I had a small place near the beach in Ocean County to move to while we got the business off the ground.  We love the area and the people and we realized this was where we wanted to live and run a business.   

Having spent a lot of time in some of the smaller beach side towns in Ocean County and after speaking with some local zoning officials, I knew there would be challenges (such as getting municipal approval for a brewery and the high costs of commercial real estate) to opening a brewery in this area, so I began my search in southern Monmouth County.  I started with about five business-friendly towns that I thought had a good combination of industrial-type buildings and proximity to the coast.  I was searching for around 5,000 square feet of clear span warehouse space that was industrial or commercially zoned.  I wanted 16 to 20 foot ceilings, overhead door(s), three phase electrical, gas, and city water and sewer. 

I started in Asbury Park in the summer of 2009.  There is a great history to the town and despite several failed “revitalizations”, there is a lot going on there.  I spoke to several local leaders and the town seemed open to the idea of a brewery and very business friendly. 

Commercial real estate in New Jersey has cooled considerably and I thought I would be able to find something relatively easily.  Unfortunately, landlords in Asbury did not seem to be aware of the market conditions and I was unable to find anything close to affordable that didn’t need serious work.  It didn’t take long to realize it was time to move on. 

That fall I had found what I thought would be an ideal location.  It was an old foundry building in an industrial strip next to the coast train line in Manasquan.  The building had been empty for years and the owner had recently decided to invest some money in the building and find a commercial tenant.   For those of you who don’t know, Manasquan is a quaint beach-side town with a sizable year round population.  It seemed like the perfect combination of location and building. 

Based on my earlier comments I knew there may be some issues with getting this approved, but because it was an industrial building next to a railroad track I thought it might work.  I was told the town was business friendly and before I proceeded I spoke to the mayor and several members of the planning board and the town council to gauge reaction. 

In those early conversations I did not hear any objection to opening a brewery in Manasquan from any of the local leaders.  I was advised to speak to a local attorney who had been practicing in town for years and knew the local zoning codes.  The attorney said some variances would be needed but believed he could get it done and agreed to take the application.  We were scheduled to appear before the board in March.   

Since you already know we are opening in Ocean and not Manasquan you can surmise how the meeting went.  The next few months were an interesting insight into local politics and very eye opening.  By early June I decided it was in my best interest to withdraw our application and move forward in a new direction.  Maybe at some point I will get into the Manasquan Experience, but not in this post.  Let’s just say that it set us back about four to six months and about $15,000—not a great start. 

After the Manasquan Experience I resigned myself to the fact that we were most likely going to end up in a cookie-cutter warehouse-type building in some industrial park, despite my best efforts to find a space with some character.  I decided to shift the focus to buildings that were zoned properly in commercial or industrial areas that would not require a trip in front of any local boards. The industrial parks of Eatontown seemed to fit the bill.

I had never really been interested in an industrial park before, but once I realized the amount of (vacant) commercial space they had I thought I would have no problem finding a building.   What I began to realize once I started talking to landlords and brokers was that we were looking for a relatively small amount of space.   Apparently 5,000 square foot subdivisions in 150,000 square foot buildings are not that common. 

I was able to find a few that suited us but then we ran into another problem—we were a start-up.  Most of the large industrial buildings in these types of parks are owned by investment groups or larger real estate companies who were not all that interested in renting to a start-up.  I found a perfect space in the back of a mixed commercial / industrial building and spent weeks negotiating with the owner.  When we finally came to terms I thought we could both live with, he bailed on the deal when we went to sign the papers.  Another month wasted.

After that I decided the Ocean Industrial Park off Route 35 was worth another look.  I was familiar with the  area around the industrial park because it was where Heavyweight Brewing Company was located before it closed.  (On a side note, the owners of Heavyweight have since opened Earth Bread + Brewery in Mt. Airy, PA; it’s worth a trip if you’ve never been.)    There were several new buildings that had come open and the last place I looked at was an old casket shop that had recently moved to another location. 

It had about 1,000 square feet of office space up front and 6,000 square feet of warehouse space in the back—clear span, high ceilings, industrial utilities, overhead doors, etc.; everything we needed.  As I later found out it was also zoned specifically for brewing and distributing beer.  All that was left was to negotiate terms and sign a lease.  Finally, on August 6, 2010 after about 18 months of searching the coast line we officially had a location for Kane Brewing Company.