When we first walked through our building before the offer was accepted we knew right away that this place was right. It was located in Gibsons Landing, it had concrete floors, high enough ceilings to accommodate our tanks and was a fairly blank slate that, with a bit of work, could be turned into a great brewery and tasting lounge. Optimistically, we figured we could possibly open our doors in… November? Soon after starting it became clear this would not be the case. ‘Double your timeline and your budget’, is the adage we were reminded of several times by other brewery owners we had chatted with. Thankfully this is not completely true in our case, but I will run you through some of the things that make a small 2,000 square foot brewery a BIG project.
When we took possession of our building in early September, Warren and I had already quit our jobs and were ready to go with the demolition and the build out of the brewery. It may have been a bit risky to start demolition before we had our zoning amendment, parking variance, liquor license and environmental approvals in place, but... what choice did we have? We couldn’t afford to sit on the empty building and pay the mortgage. While the demolition and construction was ongoing for the first two months we had not yet been approved for our brewery. The three of us were at Town Council meetings listening to the councilors consider our amendments and the fate of our brewery. This was a nerve wracking experience, as it was mostly out of our control and at times it was not completely clear that we were going to get everything passed. But as of late November all of our amendments thankfully passed and we got the green light.
Unfortunately this one wasn't just a matter of walking into the Municipal building and grabbing a building permit a few minutes later. We were pro-active with the town early on and submitted detailed floor plans and lengthy application package. It took reviews, sign-offs, re-reviews and more sign offs before we got the official nod.
Time to do away with the interior walls and remove over 6,000 kilograms of concrete (by hand). We cut trenches with a walk behind slab saw and jack hammered to make a path for our underground drainage, water lines and some electrical conduit.
After the trenches were cut and the concrete was out of the building, we were digging for what seemed like an eternity and installing the drainage and water lines.
Starting to build
Carpenters were brought in to remove the wall that separated the front from the back of the building. They installed a beam to open up and connect what will be our bar and upper lounge with lower lounge. We wanted the space to be really open so this was a big step in the right direction.
The textured drywall ceiling was dated and we wanted to replace it with something that not only looked great but would be able to withstand the moisture around the brewhouse. We opted for one side good plywood. Warren, Wayne (my dad) and I put up over 50 sheets of this stuff and applied a white stain to seal it from moisture.
As we removed parts the concrete slab inside building we noticed water pooling around the back wall. This meant we would have to dig up and re-do the drainage behind it. Good thing we had a big contingency.
Retaining wall and water service
We installed our new watermain by rolling out a 100 foot coil of pipe up the steep hillside. This was done in conjunction with the excavation and retaining wall construction -- a necessity to get our sprinklers in and keep the water flowing for brew days.
The retaining wall stabilized the slope and provided a flat spot for some cooling units to chill on. A lot went into it: a geo-technical engineer, two excavators, a separate approval from the Town of Gibsons, and several trucks to deliver over 200,000 pounds of concrete blocks.
It's a big project. Too big to squeeze into a single post. Stay tuned for part two which includes getting 12 massive stainless steel tanks from China through our doors: "It’s a little unnerving watching a 700 pound tank swing 20 feet in the air as you wrestle with the forklift, spinning out on icy, uneven plywood boards."