By paddloPayday loans

After much work, the first draft of the Wanderlust Brewing Company website is up and running.

That means after many years of posting here at HandlebarSandwich, I’ll be moving most of my activity over there for the time being. It’s a bit of a bittersweet moment, but not unexpected considering the direction my life events have taken me of recent. It’s a fresh start with a really exciting future, so I encourage you to update your bookmarks, add the rss feed, or just start checking back there periodically.

Keep the rubber side down, and we’ll see you on the flip side.

Some of you may be aware of it, some may not. Either way, I had a birthday last tuesday. Not just any birthday, but a pretty big one.

The big 3-0, in fact.

I’ve had a few people tell me that I’m just a baby, and others tell me I’m getting old. The bottom line is that I feel the same as I felt when I was 29 (a little over a week ago now), so it really didn’t feel much different.

But it did give me a bit of pause while I sip on my beer this evening. Something to reflect on, if you will. I’m not one to typically dwell in the past, but I am one to look at the big picture, of how I am where I am, what learnings I’ve had along the way, and how I got here.

One thing I’ve definitely learned is that I like oak-aged beers, so we can start there.

31-May-2012 21:17, SONY DSC-W350, 2.7, 4.7mm, 0.05 sec, ISO 400

Tonight’s selection is one of the Conflux Series from Deschutes Brewery. I’ve actually had the “#2″ from this series (which was with Boulevard Brewing) in the past, and it was a tasty ‘white ipa’ blend. This one is a deliciously rich oak-aged strong ale, which was a collaboration with Hair of the Dog Brewing.

It’s more than a little ironic that I’m drinking a beer called ‘collage’ while thinking back about the 50,000 foot view of the last 30 years of my life.

It sure has been a wild ride. One that, if anything, has sped up as of recent.

As I think back over the defining moments of my life, I actually come up a little blank. I think about where I am today, and the things that stick out in my mind are the people who have influenced me, not necessarily the events. Sure, the events were most definitely a result of the people I was around, and you can bet your ass that some of them stick out in my mind more than others. But, all of those tend to be a result of the company I keep, and to all those people, I offer a huge thank you.

From the teachers, to my parents, to the friends and even the foes, these people have defined who I am and where I’ve come to today.

The scoutmasters and boys in Troop 100 back in indiana who taught me valuable leadership skills, an insatiable love of the outdoors, and how to see something through to the end.

The guys at JL Waters who taught me how to roll a kayak, to shred a mountain bike, to lead trad climbs, and how to talk to anyone and everyone who walked into that store (and more importantly, how to spend an entire paycheck at the store that gave it to me).

My friends at RPI whom I learned how to really lead climb with, how to telemark ski with, how to take ridiculous road trips with, and how to rock out to Tenacious D and Weezer with.

My brothers at Chi Phi who taught me how to manage a fraternity of 30 guys, how to plan menus for 30 guys, how to work on a 100+ year old house, how to drink good beer (and bad beer), how to play foosball, and how to maintain a healthy balance of obsessive work habits and a laid back attitude in spite of all of it.

Rob, for getting me into brewing beer 7 years ago, and all the folks who have drank my beer who told me enough times that I should start a brewery that I finally am doing it.

Flagstaff, and all the people in it, who have shown me how rad Arizona can be, how amazingly fit the guy or girl next to you at the bar can be, how truly ingrained a love of the outdoors can be into somebody’s life, and how awesome it is to live in a little mountain town.

And, of course, my family for all the things that they have done for me over the years. My sister, for being my only sibling, whom I hated for the first 18 years of my life, and then became a great friend (and roommate for a while). My mom, for teaching me how to not take anything for granted, and for showing me that somebody can successfully pull off not cursing in front of their offspring for 20 years. My dad, for reversing all of that by cursing in front of my from a young age, for supporting me in everything I have done and will do, and giving me two pieces of advice I try not to forget: “don’t get caught”, and “this too shall pass”.

The people in my life define the the decisions I’ve made, the experiences that I’ve had, the place I’m at right now, and the path which lays in front of me for the future. That is why, to this day, I love meeting new people and catching up with old friends. Each encounter, in some way or another, adds a little footnote to the story of Nathan.

I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in the past 30 years, but I dare say that the next 30 is going to be just as exciting.

I kicked it off this last weekend with a trip to Salida, Colorado to meet up with a bunch of friends. We rented a big cabin (which we later realized belonged to Jessica Biel’s parents), and had a blast. I had only been to Salida for the Vapor Trail in the past, but really enjoyed the town so I picked it as a good location for the celebration.

Some folks from colorado came down, some folks from flagstaff headed up there, and 3 of my good college friends (Jesse, Andy, and Nicole) flew out from the east coast. We spent the weekend drinking, hiking, biking, kayaking, and sitting in the hot tub. It was everything I could have wanted from a birthday party, that’s for sure.

27-May-2012 12:38, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 4.7mm, 0.01 sec, ISO 80
27-May-2012 13:08, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 4.7mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 250
28-May-2012 12:15, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 4.7mm, 0.001 sec, ISO 250
26-May-2012 13:26, SONY DSC-W350, 2.7, 4.7mm, 0.008 sec, ISO 80

I also got a bit of a birthday present from the city on the brewery front. I finally got some resolution to my permitting and building issues, and things are moving forward again. If all goes well, we’re actually going to start cutting concrete in the next week or two. Just in time too, because the brewhouse tanks arrived this morning.

01-Jun-2012 03:11
01-Jun-2012 03:10
01-Jun-2012 03:09

Did I say the next 30 years were going to be just as exciting? Now that I think about it, I may just pack that excitement in the next 5 years……..

TBA.

A term that has been on my mind a lot lately.

Ironically, also the name of the beer I’m sipping on while writing this post.

16-May-2012 21:19, motorola DROID BIONIC, 2.8, 4.6mm, 0.1 sec, ISO 565

I’ve sat down to write an update on the brewery several times in the last few weeks, and the only excuse I have for not doing it is one of uncertainty.

I’m not one to talk bad about people, and I’ve always tried to heed the advice of ‘if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all’.

I believe that may be why I’ve kept quiet on the updates on the brewery recently. You see, I’m stuck in a quagmire of regulations, permitting, and zoning codes that seems to be dragging me under only slightly slower than a finely tuned bed of quicksand.

I’ve spent the last month and a half in discussions with the city about what they believe are requirements for me to move forward with my permit, and I believe are unnecessary and frivolous expenses and ever-complicating demands. We have gone from installing a couple drains, some sinks, and some electrical circuits, to building 2-hour firewalls, installing sprinklers, building bathrooms, and installing heated strainers on the sewer outflow. I have tried to reason, I’ve tried to read building codes, and I’ve tried to ask for explanations for all of it.

I want to believe that the people I’m communicating with truly believe they are doing the right thing, but I’m just not convinced. Demands pile on top of demands, and every solution I propose is shot down swiftly and more requirements are piled on top. I am up to 4 distinct sets of requirements from the city, each with an increasing number of renovation requirements.

I know that we’ll work through it eventually, but it’s a long, painful, and expensive process. It’s made me lose some faith that I had in the motivation of the city to help small businesses get up and running. I still believe there are good people at the city who want to move things like this forward, but unfortunately the folks who believe in taking the path of most resistance are the ones who are the loudest. I know they believe they are covering themselves against liability, but it’s gotten out of hand.

But time marches on. And if it was easy, everyone would do it.

In fact, it’s become a long enough process that I will most likely have my tanks for the brewhouse in my possession before I cut the first bit of concrete (which was initially going to happen at the beginning of april). I got the call yesterday that my 3 brewery tanks (hot liquor, mash tun, and boil kettle) are in portland, and are getting loaded on a truck to head this way. The fermenters are in either the first or second week of june, and the rest of the equipment and control system is on it’s way as well.

Shiny new stainless. I’m gonna need a big tarp to cover it up while they cut concrete.

So, for those of you who have been wondering. That’s where I’m at. The fundraising has begun again, as I feel like even if I make it out with only half of the things they are requesting, I’m still doubling my construction budget. So goes the way of the startup.

If anything, this has cemented my dedication to opening the brewery; although there were times when the thought of throwing up my arms in frustration, posting an ad for brewery equipment for sale, and pulling out crossed my mind. I am making this thing happen, and it will be successful. Beer will be brewed, and it will be mind-numbingly delicious beer. All of you will be witness to this and we’ll all look back on this frustration, shake our heads at the insanity, and then set the sights firmly on the future. A future of shiny stainless, beautifully designed packaging, and (most importantly) ridiculously delicious beer. The timeline may be set back a bit, but it will move forward. And in the meantime, I’ve got a big empty warehouse which will soon have a grill outside.

On a much lighter note, if you want to come by the brewery space and check it out, Sunday is your day. I’ve decided that we need an excuse to do some quality control on the test batches, fire up the grill, and hang out a bit at the space. I’m not using it for brewing yet, so lets use it for something. In addition to the festivities, we’re gonna make a solid attempt at putting together the walk-in cooler that I’ve got sitting in pieces right now. It’s full-on Ikea-style, so it only requires a couple tools and a few people who don’t mind moving big insulated panels around in exchange for beer and grilled meat.

So, if you’re around on sunday, come by the brewery space at 1519 N. Main Street, Suite 102 around 11am. Bring a set of closed toe shoes, a camping chair, and a side dish to go with the grilled meat. I’ll have some tools, a general set of instructions (how hard can it be?), hot dogs, hamburgers, a light summer pale ale, a porter, and all the necessary eating and drinking accessories.

Maybe we need to construct a cornhole set as well…. That would be a good sunday project, and I’m willing to bet we can put it to good use right away.

Anyone want to sew some bags for it?

I feel like we’re going to bust out the fridge construction in short order, so we’ll just have to make sure the cornhole set works.

If you don’t happen to make it by, we’ll catch you next time around. However, you should definitely check out what else is happening around here (or wherever you are) for American Craft Beer Week.

And if that isn’t your cup of tea, and you’re up in the Flagstaff area this weekend, the other event which is totally worth checking out is the Overland Expo which starts friday down by mormon lake. I’ll be out there on saturday checking out all the crazy machines that some like-minded folks are rocking. Good stuff for sure.

That’s all I got for tonight. If you’re on facebook, you can check out the event page for sunday with more details, or just shoot me an email and I’ll hook you up with some info.

My beer is officially drained (and it was a good one), so I’m outta here.

Laters.

What did I say about Murphy’s law? Not 2 hours after I hit the submit button on my last post, I got a call from the city concerning the zoning of the building that I wanted to have the brewery in. Turns out we didn’t do the proper checks, and since the zoning all changed this past november things were a bit unclear. It was a stressful week thinking that I may have to reverse course and find a completely new place to move everything.

Fortunately, by weeks end I had finally tracked down the person who makes the decisions at the city in that regard, and it’s looking like things are back on for the current location. The decision will (hopefully) be official after a planning commission meeting, and we can get back on construction. Everyone keep your fingers crossed.

A lot of folks have asked me if I’m going to race my bike this year with all the brewery stuff going on. My answer is usually something along the lines of ‘probably not any big races’. The reality is that I think I need the escape of the bike more than anything at this point. I’ve been getting out an average of about 3-4 days a week, which considering how much other stuff is on my plate at this point, is pretty damn good.

It’s a great stress relief, and it tends to give me some time to sort out my head what the crisis du jour is.

Sunday provided a good opportunity to get away from all the brewery planning for a solid afternoon ride with the hobo crew. It was the annual Baah! ride that Richardo the bike man puts together. It’s the first year I made it out for it, and damn was it fun. A pre-ride beer and stretch session at Moustache Cycles HQ and then a group spin to the top of elden got everyone’s blood flowing.

08-Apr-2012 13:51, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 4.7mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 80
08-Apr-2012 13:51, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 5.66mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 80

The ride in years previous had been a downhill race down Elden Lookout road, but this year they decided to put a twist on it and send us all down the heart trail. If you haven’t done it, go ride it….. once….. and then you’ll probably not want to ride it again.

Tight switchbacks, and about 1700 vertical feet of baby-head size rocks makes it a pretty brutal trail. Two-time defending champion Scott took the hole shot and was out of sight before we knew what happened. A slip on the uphill put me in second as I passed Richard. Unfortunately, my downhill skillz were no match for his long-travel 29er hardtail and precision switchback cutting skills. He passed me after about 3-4 switchbacks when he lept from the bike and jumped a switchback cyclocross style. My desire to ride as many of the switchbacks as possible was my undoing. Unfortunately for Scott, he went a little too big on one of the nasty sections and ended up getting passed by the two of us as he retrieved his bike. I ended up not seeing Richard again until we hit the bottom, where he was waiting when I arrived.

08-Apr-2012 15:52, SONY DSC-W350, 2.8, 5.66mm, 0.003 sec, ISO 80
08-Apr-2012 16:04, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 5.66mm, 0.017 sec, ISO 80

The rest of the crew trickled in and we commenced the Beaster Egg Hunt that had been set up a couple days before. As the warm Beasts were uncovered from the landscape around the finish line the last of the crew rolled in, including Ray on his fatbike, and Dre in his easter sunday churchwear. After the last beers were uncovered, we set back around the mountain for home.

Unfortunately, I had some permits to attend to that evening, so I didn’t get to stick around for the Bar-B-Q, but I left them a couple growlers of beer, which I’m quite sure got put to good use.

The ride was a blast, and you can rest assure that if this is what you consider ‘racing’, I’m planning on racing my bike this year, even with the brewery unfolding. If you want Richards account of the event, check it here.

The week wound down, and this morning I jumped on a plane to Oakland with Jason to go visit our good friend Rob. He’s got some health stuff going on right now, and it wasn’t even a question that we were going out to pay him a visit and make sure his spirits are high.

If you haven’t ever met him, that means that you’ve never been to a Turkey Fry at my house. He’s been to every one of them, save one, since I started doing it. He’s also the man who, 7 years ago, walked into my office at work and informed me that he had a brilliant idea, and it involved us brewing beer.

I agreed, and here I am today, starting a brewing company. I owe Rob a lot for introducing me to this passion, and he’s been the biggest supporter since the idea’s inception. He’s an all around great guy who I’m glad to know. I had suspected that these recent health issues weren’t getting him down too much, as he’s about the most upbeat person I know, and when we got off the plane, I knew immediately that I was right. Good stuff.

motorolae DROID BIONICu, 2.8, 4.6mm, 0.005 sec, ISO 65535

We’ve got a trip planned tomorrow to head up and tour Lagunitas Brewing Company, and then head up to Santa Rosa and sample the wares at Russian River. It’ll be a great day of beer tasting and hanging out with some good friends. Lets be honest, hanging out with good friends is a big part of getting this brewery off the ground, so it’s going to be a trip well spent.

Yes, I’m going to be out at art walk tomorrow night, and yes, I’ll have some delicious beers to taste.

I’m sure some of you have heard about another business starting up here in town called “Green Car Company”. It’s a taxi/limo service that my good friend Chris is starting up. He’s always had a bit of a passion for old diesel cars, and has amassed a small collection of Mercedes that he’s been running on some home-processed biodiesel. His plan is to paint all his cars bright green and run the service totally off biodiesel (although not his own initially).

He’s got a sweet space in a building behind the Green Room downtown to run the whole operation out of. It’s a building that you’ve probably seen a thousand times but may not have taken much note of. It’s right on the corner of the alley by Martannes and the alley by Swadee Thai, it’s got a mural on one side of it, and says “Aspen Machine” on the south side (which faces Rt. 66).

You know it’s gotta be a cool space when the address has a “1/2″ in the number.

We’ve been throwing plans together for a couple months on this, and it’s gonna be a fun time. I’ve got three beers ready to roll for it, and he’s got some cool music lined up.

The three beers I’ll have on hand are:

Belgian Pale Ale – A cross between an american and belgian pale ale. Brewed with American base malt, belgian biscuit malt, a belgian yeast strain, and a mix of american and belgian hops. Really smooth and crisp with a nice citrus finish.

Oatmeal Stout – What more do you need to know? One of the richest, most delicious beers I brew. This beer is smooth, creamy, chocolaty, and all-around ridiculously good.

Flagstaff Farmhouse Ale – The latest beer in a series that I’ve brewed with a yeast strain that was harvested off local apples. This one is flavorful brown ale brewed with some local honey to boost the alcohol content and keep it from being too sweet. The wild yeast gives it a bit of a earthy, funky bite to it. Really unique beer that can lay claim to being one of the more locally sourced brews I’ve made.

We’re gonna get started on friday around 6:00, so come by and grab a beer and check out Chris’ new space. I’ll also have a stack of stickers, and a box full of t-shirts if anyone wants to pick one up. The t-shirts are $20 apiece, and I’ll have a full run of mens AND womens sizes in both styles for the occasion.

When you’re starting a business, everyone always asks you how things are moving along. Fortunately, it seems as though there’s always something to talk about.

Unfortunately, it’s not always the most glamorous of things to talk about. I would love to tell you how I’m builidng a bar, or testing out tanks, or whatever the case may be. But, the bottom line is really that there hasn’t been a lick of work going on at the brewery space yet. The main work that’s been happening is digging out from under a mountain of permit applications.

The whole brewery startup has been a huge effort in managing timing. I sat down when I first started putting plans together, and tried to get an idea on how long each of the different elements that play into it would take. From there, I started working backwards from my goal of having the space ready for when the equipment arrives.

Equipment order went in during february (at least for the brewhouse and tanks) and is set to arrive in may. The longest lead time item, by far, was the state liquor license application. I could cut and pour concrete, and let it dry for a month three times over before getting a liquor license approved by our esteemed state of arizona.

Based on the information from their website (pdf file), I should expect my license to take 105 days to approve. So, as soon as I had an address, the license application went into the state.

The strange thing about the timeframe they give is that 75 days are for ‘administrative completeness review’, and 30 days are for ‘substantive review’. This was a bit unclear to me at the outset, but it became very evident after my license application was initially submitted. It was immediately returned to me for deficiencies from an ‘administrative completeness’ standpoint. Things as important as:

Please list the middle name for Nathan Friedman in section XX.
We need you to list the square footage of the brewery space.
Please clearly mark the main entrance and exit to the brewery.

There were some others as well. There was a lot of face-smacking every time I got another version of the license application returned to me. My middle name was listed in 4 places, but not the 5th. The length and width of the perfectly rectangular brewery space was marked, but I didn’t list the ‘overall square footage’. The single ‘door’ in the building was marked, but I had not labeled it as the main entrance and exit.

This went on for about a month before my license was accepted. I consider this a win, since they budgeted 75 days for it on the website.

It’s actually unfortunate, because I believe they have resorted to being nitpicky about the applications so that they don’t have to process them as quick, but in reality they’re creating much more work than they need to. So it goes.

Either way, I got the application in and *finally* accepted, and they have now posted on my front door for my liquor license. If you want to see my neatly typed application with 2 layers of handwritten corrections on it, drop by and thumb through it.

motorolae DROID BIONICm, 2.8, 4.6mm, 0.002 sec, ISO 65535

That stays up for 20 days, and then I put on a monkey suit and go wow the city council with my illusions of grandeur for the brewery.

In the meantime, I’ve had a whole other stack of applications to get through. The city building one has been another fun one.

I’ll be perfectly honest, the city has actually been really easy to work with. I’ve heard horror stories about unreasonable requirements and complicated plan reviews, but I got some great advice when I went in there, and since the renovations are relatively simple, it’s actually been quite smooth. I ran into a little hitch when I was originally wanting to build a small room within the big space, and if you build any sort of wall (even non-load-bearing) in a building over 3000 square feet, you need an architect.

The second you need an architect, they need to hire engineers, because really, an architect is just the designer. They can’t tell you what kind of concrete to put in, or what load center you need for you power requirements, or how to build the walls. They hire that out. It’s one massive ponzi scheme if you’re trying to do something simple. I didn’t need any engineering, I didn’t need any design, I needed to build 16′ of wall to store grain in.

Again, the guys at the city were really apologetic, and said they wished they could help me, but it’s a state statute (go figure). Yet again, it seems as though the state is really the red tape here. So it goes.

So, I erased the 16′ of wall I wanted to build, and the problem disappeared. No wall, no architect. I walk in, I tell them what I’m doing for electrical and plumbing upgrades, give them some money (always essential) and walk out with my permits. Bing, bang, boom.

Now I’m planning on a temporary ‘paint booth’ setup for when I mill the grain, along with a really nice wood shop dust collection system on the mill itself to keep everything contained.

On to the next…..

State, check. City, check.

Federal was the next on the list, with a quoted average turnaround time of 51 days right now (max: 80). Back to the paperwork……

The federal was a much more in-depth application, but (I thought) much more straightforward. It’s online, which is nice because you can do part, save it, and return later. The hardest part was actually scanning all the documents in. You need area maps, diagrams, leases, promissory notes if you have personal loans, bank statements, and all other manner of documents. I ended up with 12 attachments totaling about 100 pages. This was in addition to the several long pages of typed info into their online forms. But, with the state license posting up, motivation was high to get it done and submitted.

It went in on thursday of last week, so that clock is ticking as well.

Health department plan meeting was friday morning, and with that final push, I think I’m in the clear for permits for a little while.

I won’t lie, it’s been a bit exhausting. I don’t mind paperwork, but it’s a painful system with all the different people needing the same information but presented in a slightly different way. My autocad drawing of the space has gotten a bit out of hand with all the layers on it. Here it is with everything turned on. It’s a bit of a mess.

(and as I look at it, I think it may be missing a couple little revisions as well, since there were a few I just made a quick change, printed it, and moved on).

Wowza.

With all this push for paperwork, I’m closing in on the t-minus 2 months to my goal. I have hesitated to tell people exactly when I’m opening, because if my history as a project manager at work has taught me anything, its that timelines and budgets are uncertain up until the very end. Fortunately, so far we’re looking to be within a reasonable schedule. My goal is to get as much wrapped up before the tanks arrive as possible (mid to end of may) so that when they do, I can plug them in, run some test batches, get my health department inspection, and then start some beer soon after. I would love to be opening in June sometime, but I’ll be ecstatic if beer is flowing by july.

And now that I’ve publicly stated that, you can probably count on september because Murphy’s law will most likely be rearing it’s ugly head any time now.

With all this paper pushing, I felt like I needed to actually go out an build something for the brewery. Fortunately, Nate was free this past saturday, and we decided to tackle the frame for the mill. Being the engineer I am, I have a 1hp motor sitting in my garage which should work perfectly for the mill, and so I designed up a drive system and frame to step it from 3450 RPM to the requisite 300 rpm and I designed a hopper that should hold upwards of 2 bags grain (which is 110 lbs) at a time. Since my batch sizes are going to be in the 150-250 lbs of grain per batch range, this should make it really easy to manage the grains going into a batch.

Here’s the cad file of the frame and top that I whipped up while staying late at work one night: Grain Mill (pdf) Nate had some extra 1″ square stock sitting around that he had picked up from somebody, and I’m getting the mounting plates for the pulleys and motor machined at Mayorga’s Welding here in town.

Nate is getting pretty good on the TIG welder, and with two of us working to get everything all cut, cleaned up, and welded together, it came together pretty quickly. If you ever see it in the flesh, ignore the ugly, blown out welds. That’s where Nate let me try my hand at the TIG torch (I did it once before, about 8 years ago).

31-Mar-2012 11:49, SONY DSC-W350, 2.7, 4.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 160
31-Mar-2012 14:17, SONY DSC-W350, 2.7, 4.7mm, 0.033 sec, ISO 125
31-Mar-2012 15:38, SONY DSC-W350, 8.0, 4.7mm, 0.006 sec, ISO 80

I made up the top plate for it yesterday, and started fitting up the hopper sides. I was originally going to make the sides out of plywood, but I may go back to sheet metal. I haven’t decided yet, and those can wait until the final plates are on and the thing is powder coated anyways.

01-Apr-2012 16:11, SONY DSC-W350, 2.7, 4.7mm, 0.013 sec, ISO 80

(there’s a mill under the top plate, attached to that monster of a pulley)

Finally, something I can say is getting done other than paperwork for the brewery.

I do think the next couple weeks are going to start seeing some big changes at the space, so that will be exciting. I’ve got permits in hand, and so the hope is that the concrete for the sloped floor and the floor drains will get cut this next week, and then we can really start making a mess of things. It’s gonna be fun.

motorolar DROID BIONICx, 2.8, 4.6mm, 0.06 sec, ISO 65535