Are you over 21?

The forecast for delivery day (December 9 2014) was Polar Vortex-esque to say the least.  After meeting the night before with Bill, the owner of the rigging company, we decided to reconvene in the morning and see how things looked.  Considering it would be an all day affair, the smallest sign of inclement weather would make for a potentially troublesome and dangerous day.  That night sleep was not something I was lucky enough to get.  When I awoke at 4:30 am, I was only minutes early on the all too familiar and frequent chime of new messages in my inbox.  This one telling me the delivery that day was canceled.

Phase converters for days

The decision came down from the top, the crane operator.  The roads would have been too icy for them to make it into Kent Hollow, and weather conditions too poor to safely operate in.  To make sure the next few days were not wasted, the work schedule in the brewery was quickly shuffled around to get the electricians inside working on installing all of our many panels inside and outside the building.  The farm only has single phase power, so phase converters are necessary to operate some of the larger motors involved in the brewing system.

If you consider the size of our brewery, the unloading and delivery method might be a bit unique; one usually reserved for breweries of significantly larger sizes.  You see cranes installing large 200 barrel fermentation tanks, brewing vessels through open roofs of some breweries, but rarely for a 15 bbl system and 30 bbl fermentation vessels, most of which only weigh 1,000 lbs each.  This is a job usually reserved for fork lifts and a boom.  Without the loading docks, indoor-outdoor fork lifts, and small space of operation the cranes became a must.  The decision would soon be made to reschedule the delivery for Friday December 12, past the additional unpleasant weather forecasts.

Always listen to your crane operator, “Safety first!”

For the next few days I knew sleep would be a completely foreign concept to me.  Up until the point the tanks were upright and safely situated in the brewery, a sense of restlessness would linger.  Thankfully, the night before delivery our Farmer John was leading a hop farming workshop for CT NOFA at Two Roads Brewing.  Several Lil’ Heavens later, I was relaxed enough to be more excited than nervous about the morning’s delivery.  Thanks Two Roads!

John talks hops, I enjoyed an IPA with a view of a much, much, much bigger brewery to calm my nerves.

Friday morning, I awoke without the slightest fog of heaven from the night before and quickly went outside to check the weather like a child would check beneath the tree on Christmas morning.  No sign of inclement weather, only the frost and chill of a winter morning.  Move In Day was on!  Shortly after, the construction guys would arrive and the site would be fully prepped for the tanks to be brought in.

Once moving the first tank began, it would be almost two hours until it was inside the brewery upright and in position.  Like many things, establishing the proper way to do things can take some additional time but when protocol is in place the rest of the operation runs very smoothly.  As someone who is very hands on in everything they do, it was hard to sit back and watch.

Leave the equipment moving to the professionals: Bill Myers, owner of Mims Riggers. Call them for all your brewery install needs.

The day for me was much more about supervising than it was moving anything.  Those first two hours, watching the tank be positioned in different ways, the forklift maneuvering around it, the winch freeze up (literally) and need to be warmup before use, were quite tense.  The small of my back tightened with each and every move.

Up we go!
Up we go!

Finally, with everyone on site watching closely, the riggers stood the first fermentation tank upright I uncontrollably shouted “WHOOOO!” in a surprisingly high pitched manner.  The place froze up, everyone stared directly at me.  With only a smiling face of amusement and relief to answer them with a great sigh of relief and laughter swept through the crowd.  Soon after the next tank would be brought in and stood right up, and then the next, until all of the brewing equipment was in the building and safely positioned upright.  Except for the grist case, but that is the story for another post.   For now, press play and enjoy the short time lapse video.