Hob Knob Brewing Company

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Adventures In Home Brewing

So this was supposed to be a triumphant weekend. With a 3 day weekend, I should have been able to accomplish a lot! All I accomplished was a few good learning experiences. Here's a few things I took in:

1) Don't buy the cheap white teflon tape to seal brass plumbing. It won't work. The pink (extra strength) teflon tape, pipe sealant, or pipe joint compound is your friend. I tried 3 times assembling the hardware for my pump station, and it leaked like a sieve every times. Had I spent the extra $.97 on the pink teflon instead of the white teflon, I'd of been done hours sooner, and I wouldn't have run into this next problem.

2) When you're able to stop the leaks, and assemble the plumping...it doesn't have to be Conan the Barbarian tight. I was giving the inlet plumbing its last final quarter turn to tighten it down, and heard a pop, managing to crack the pump housing. $43 later, I ordered a new housing from ebay.

3) Water is smelly. With all the plumbing problems, the pump leaked all over the rug in the garage. A box fan is NOT enough to dry out the water. Water + Heat = Fly Heaven.

4) Flys are small, dumb, yet agile - and not attracted in the least bit to bug zappers. Looking for alternatives, I turned to my blower. Armed with my trusty 125 mph leaf blower, I declared war on the swarm (and lost miserably). I ended up dragging the rug out onto the driveway to dry.

5) Meanwhile, the wife was out planting new plants along the front walk way on a 90 degree day. So being the loving, caring husband I am, I decided to take her some ice water. Now being the efficient person I am, I decided to clean a carboy while in the act on the counter in the kitchen (I'm sure you can see where this is going). After going outside, I forgot about the carboy, and forgot about the water filling the carboy. Luckily, a few days earlier, I had invested in a wet/dry vac - which was immediately put to good use picking up about 2+ gallons of water and star san.

I was able to accomplish about 1.5 things this weekend. I got half the trellises hung for the hops. My jumbo nugget hops are doing very well, with the other 4 varieties close behind. I was also able to transfer and filter the honey nut brown ale to my keg for carbonating. Looking forward to a taste of that next weekend! I will say this. If running a home brewery is anything like running a commercial brewery (and I'm sure it is), I've got a heck of a lot to learn!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Busy, Busy, Busy

So here at Hob Knob, we're busy crunching numbers and making plans. SWMBO ('she who must be obeyed' aka the wife) is gung ho and started working on label designs. We did get a bad of news which will delay our launch.

A) Start up licensing takes up to 3 months, and will cost around $1300.
B) No garages - commercial locations only, which ads $10,000+ a year to our costs.
C) Our tanks are on back order, and not wanting to make a snap decision (though we're 90% sure we'll go with 2 125g fermenters), it looks like the earliest we could get them would be September.

Right now, we're considering a lease on a 1200 sq ft location for $850/month. Just a small place to get started. Our capacity and space will be limited, but the location can't be beat - its about 1.5-2m from the house. I think it may be in the same complex as my buddy over at Ass Clown Brewing - though Matt's movin up to the big time with a 5,000 sq ft facility, and looking to upgrade to a huge 7bbl system.

The biggest hurdle we'll face is the government. The red tape associated with running a brewery is amazing, which I guess is good and bad, otherwise these craft breweries might be popping up everywhere (well, even more everywhere...they already seem to be popping up fairly frequently). I know at least 4 new breweries have opened their doors in the last 2 years in the greater Charlotte area. I say the more the merrier. One thing that we'll never be short of is beer drinkers!

The more I think about all this, the more I keep getting sucked in. Though we've got some delays, I don't think anything is a game changer. In fact, now we're more motivated than ever to bring quality beers to folks in our area. Hopefully, we'll be ready to launch by this fall!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Brew Stand Debacle

I hate staining. It's simply a pain in the butt. So when the 5 or so hours I'd put into the build of the brew stand was complete, and all that was left was a little painting, I was excited to be done. It turns out, I had no idea what I was doing. Brushing it on like paint doesn't work, and just creates these hideous looking streaks. My beautiful stand now looks like it has leprosy, and I've got to figure out how to fix it. I've got two choices it looks like...add a few more coats of stain, or sand the stain off and paint. I'll probably try a few more coats before throwing in the towel.

What it's supposed to look like (from the electric brewery site):

What it looks like now...yes, I gave up on staining:

Man, I hate staining.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hob Knob's Namesake & Brewery Update

There's an old saying, "Don't hobnob with snobs." Well, at Hob Knob's Brewery we pride ourselves on being beer snobs. Like many, I started drinking the "beers" of the big 3 - Budweiser, Miller, and Coors. This was before realizing there were literally hundreds of styles of different, unique, and tasty brews out there just waiting to be consumed. When someone calls us beer snobs, we look at it as a compliment. Hence the play on the word "hobnob".

The "Knob" part of Hob Knob comes from my old college days. My friends and I enjoyed the film "Strange Brew" with Rick Moranis. Running with the dialog of the movie, it was commonplace for us to call each other 'hosers' and 'knobs'. It is this carefree, fun, and relaxing environment that I wanted to incorporate into a brewery. For me, brewing is a pleasure, a past time, and an opportunity to show my creative side. It's not work. It's something I love to do, just like hanging out with old college buddies. That's why we named the brewery, Hob Knob Brewery, and my dog wound up with the name 'Hoser'!

Right now, the Hob Knob Brewery is a hobby. The plan is to go pro. It seems like we're slowly moving in the direction of offering our beers on a limited basis. I can't help myself when it comes to purchasing bigger, better brewing equipment. Right now, 'the system' (as we call it), is capable of producing 18-19g batches on the 20g system - more if you did partial mashes (partial mashes are basically like brewing from concentrate and diluting it). We could feasibly do 2 kegs per day (or 1bbl, or 31g), meaning we could pump out around 160 gallons per week on the current setup - more than enough to make the jump to commercial on a nanobrewery level once I get my 2 155g fermenters.

The setup is progressing at Hob Knob, and I've got almost all of the connections I need for the complete plumbing setup and pumping station. I'm about halfway done with my all wood brew stand. I've upgraded the system to the 20g all grain system. I'm learning everything I can about beer from brewer's radio, books, videos, tours, tournaments, clubs - you name it!

Time for a cold one!