Ramble On

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Interior Framing @hawksbillbrew

Well, the interiors work keeps plugging along at Hawksbill Brewing Company.  It is one of several activities we have going in parallel to get the place open - construction is the one activity we have the most control over right now, so we're making good progress.  In fact, this completes the first stage of framing.

Some earlier photos I put up last week showed the walls for our two accessible restrooms and the cold room.  The layout starts to be recognizable with these shots, which show the future bar area - the first one is more or less the view that patrons will have as they enter the building.

Our brew house will be visible to the rear, on the right side of the first photo.

The second photo gives the perspective from part of the tasting room, an area that will be adjacent to the brew house.  We're pretty excited that almost the entire operation is going to be visible to our patrons from this area.

More seating is planned for the front of the building, which looks out of those big windows onto scenic Zerkel Street.

We're going to get started on MEP next - mechanical, electrical, and plumbing.  In fact, we've already received notice that part of the cooling system will be the first equipment to arrive next month, so we have that to look forward to!

We're getting a lot of great feedback from the community and we simply wouldn't be able to do this without you.  We're working on getting a good idea of our schedule put down on paper and are hoping we can report a revised opening date in the very near future.  It's clear we won't make the September date, which is on our banner, but we are hoping we can do a late fall date - a lot of ducks need to get in a row for that to happen though!

We welcome comments and feedback here on this blog, or on our Facebook page.  Thanks for your support!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Framing the office @hawksbillbrew

The initial framing at Hawksbill Brewing Company is completed, so I thought I'd post a couple of updates about what's going inside our charming little home at 22 Zerkel Street in Luray.  First is a photo from the back part of the building, which is where most of the back-of-house functions will take place.  

This window is going to be in the Operations Manager's office - it features a pretty nice town view, with Main Street just over there.  Also visible here is the Norfolk Southern rail line - that's an important part of our building's heritage, as the facility was built to be an ice storage facility for the Norfolk & Western, which was its name back in the 1910's.

Here's a look at the framing for the wall that will define the office.  Pretty spacious digs, and plenty of natural light, although I think we're going to need to augment that some!

There's quite a bit left to do, but we'll keep posting updates here and on the Facebook page.  Drop a note in the comments or over on FB if you have any questions for us!

Monday, July 25, 2016

Late July Check-in @hawksbillhops

It's getting close to harvest time at the hop yards - in a post three weeks ago we showed a mix of cones and burrs, but now it's all cones.  Our Cascades are booming, or as a friend from the hops co-op might say, "Strong like bull!"

David has done a tremendous job in the yard this year despite the onslaught we had from Japanese beetles, and everything else that can happen with this unusual crop.  We have better than a 90 percent showing on the 300 Cascade hills, and since most are second years, we've got a lot of product!

We are still working on our harvest plan - hoping to have them processed in a professional oast and then pelletized.  Most of this crop will go to our new brewery in Luray, with a couple of pounds reserved for the breweries we worked with last year.

When I field tested on Saturday, the cones were still quite wet, so we're a few weeks out.  Really can't wait to see how we do!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Another @hawksbillbrew Update - Framing Walls

Laydown of some initial materials.

Last week I wrote about getting started with demolition at Hawksbill Brewing Company - that was actually taken care of pretty quickly.  The team moved right into framing out the walls, some initial work that can be taken care of while we await some other ducks to get in a row.  Thought I would post the highlight photos here.

We feel like we've been very lucky with our location at 22 Zerkel Street in Luray - there is simply nothing I can think of that I would complain about.  Our landlord is the Fire Department, and they are right across the street, and you can see the building from the key tourist zone of Main Street.  Location and relationships are two steps towards success.

The first stud walls were for the restrooms.
Even so, we are going to do some modifications so the place will work as a brewery.  We need accessible bathrooms, for one thing, so we're going to put in two.  We also need a cold room where we can store filled kegs and run the taps.

Framing for the cold room.
So those two features are the first to go in, with the bulk of the framing getting done over the last week or so.  There's more to come, of course, and that stuff needs to be coordinated with the MEP - mechanical, electrical, and plumbing - that is lined up to follow these initial walls.

It will keep on rolling on as equipment is incrementally delivered.  That is scheduled to start beginning in August, when the main cooling unit arrives, and continue until November.

Quietly, right here on the blog, I guess I'm announcing that we are delayed.  Our banner says we will open in September, but we aren't going to make that date...I hesitate to make a prediction just now while I await some confirmation on lead times.  I hope we can hold to a commitment of Fall 2016 - for the record.

Monday, July 18, 2016

A Hole in the Ground for Money

Our driveway after the 2.5-inch rain storm.
In the Valley, the summer storm season has been nothing short of amazing.  I've lost count of the number of times I've heard about rains in excess of a half inch, and then there was the microburst a few weeks ago that knocked down trees from 5 miles away in Luray all the way to the hollow.

The tree damage reminded me of the derecho we had in the DC area in August 2012, except that this time the trees all pointed in the north-to-south direction, whereas they pointed west-to-east the other time. And I have a feeling that we won't be so lucky that Port City makes a special beer to observe the occasion of this storm!

We've had trouble with our driveway at Hawksbill Cabin ever since we bought the place.  As can be seen from the accompanying picture, the previous owners had problems too, and went to great lengths to try and repair past damage and prevent further damage.
After the repairs - this time.

It's a decently sloped grade, enough so that we bought all wheel drive cars to ensure we can make it up the hill in the winter.  That's the problem - once water gets out of the various culverts and other storm water features we have, it gets on this slope and speeds up, carving out gulleys.  There's a ton of gravel down the road that was once part of our driveway!

Still, after our last repair, it held up for three or four years.  We thought we had solved the problem.  Until this year, when we had a 2.5-inch rainstorm around here.  After that, it was gulley-city.

The storm sent us on an all-hands search for someone who could repair the driveway this time.  Our friend Mickey, who did such a great job on the previous repair, had retired, so we needed a new person.

We found a local fellow who came out one Sunday to have a look at the situation.  Pretty quickly he was back with us for the estimate and a plan for a new gravel variety - and he said he would bring out some heavy construction vehicles to pack down the gravel after it was placed.

It all looks great and it is pleasant to drive on.  We have had a couple of storms since the repair and I think it is holding up well.  We'll just have to wait and see for the next big one though, I guess.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Speaking of Breweries - @hawksbillbrew Update

Earlier in the week I wrote about the brewery that was near Tempelhof Airport in Berlin when I lived there.  But frequent readers know that I also have a project to build a brewery in Luray, Virginia - with the hope of opening it by the end of the year.

It's been a great journey, challenging, but over the last six weeks or so we've really started being able to make some visible progress.  On Friday two weeks ago we wrapped up our second round of fund raising, so we ordered our 5BBL brew house, and then yesterday the construction crew showed up to our building at 22 Zerkel Street in Luray to start the demolition.

This building's previous life was as retail stores for the last 10 years - an appliance store and then a scooter store.  There were a few iterations before then too, but it originally was an ice storage facility for the railroad, and then a creamery.

There's not much left to indicate those earliest operations, but there are signs of the stores.  You can see the floor paint in some of the attached photos that show where the old display shelves were, and if you look closely at the duct work you'll see hooks and such that were used to hang fan belts when the place housed an auto parts store.

The main element of our demo was to get rid of an old demising wall that was put in to separate the appliance show room from the warehouse area where parts were stored.  The wall was simple frame construction with particle board, and had a small office built into it at the end.  On the public side, there was a sales counter, and in the back there were work counters with electrical conduit and several outlet for small repairs.

Our construction crew got in there and made pretty quick work of things at this stage.  David says they are close to being finished already.  We'll be doing most of the fit-out now, to be followed by electrical and then mechanical/plumbing, all of which will be completed before our equipment arrives.

I'll post again on the construction progress soon - and also will put something up about the brew house order.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Revisiting the Berlin Brewery Scene

This framed mirror was one of my first
Ku'damm purchases in 1981!
It's funny how past blog topics come around again from time to time, and that is exactly what I was thinking when I saw a Facebook post come up recently about the Berliner Kindl brewery in Berlin.  A recent one about Berliner Kindl beer actually had me scurrying down to the basement to search for old souvenirs from when I was stationed in Berlin in the 1980's.  

Back in October 2014 I wrote a post here about a memory of the brewing smell from the nearby Schultheiss Brewery when I was stationed at Tempelhof Central Airport in Berlin.  That led me to do a Google search for images of the old buildings I remembered discovering back then as I walked around the neighborhood.

These two round Schultheiss deckels are among
my favorites of the ones I collected.
The post that inspired today's entry was on Thrillist (post is here), and as a fan of all things Berlin, I absolutely devoured it as soon as I saw it in a Facebook link!  A couple of the entries here that may one day inspire another post on Hawksbill Cabin are the mention of Berlin's craft brewery scene, and another about the old brewery in Neukolln - two points of interest I'd like to check out in person someday.  
The writer takes a moment to mention Berliner Weiss - an example of the sour style of beer that is increasingly popular here in the US.  Berliners practically have a copyright on this beverage, which is a sour wheat flavored with a squirt of fruity syrup.  I remember a beautiful May afternoon in 1984, visiting a shopping district up in Tegel and sipping one in a sidewalk cafe - I'm pretty sure I picked the red one - and again another time, a summer evening on the Ku'damm.  This drink is made for drinking outside and people watching!    

These are also favorites because of the ad for the
1985 Bundesgartenshau.
Another item of note in the post is the reference to the traditional beer advertisements that you can find all over Europe - the deckels, or coasters.  While I don't have any Kindl ones, I do have a number of Schultheiss ones, some of which are special interest topics.  In the photo above you can see a round one with the Schultheiss mascot character (I think the translation of Schultheiss is a reference to a municipal leadership role - need to confirm that) with a 1983 ad for the bi-annual British Tattoo that was held at the Deutcschlandhalle. 

I went to that spectacular show - it is a performance of massed pipes and drums, typically from military bands.  Back then, it was an annual show that alternated between Berlin and London.  I wasn't able to find a link to video from the 1983 show, but here is one from a 2011 Tattoo:  

The second set shows another Schultheiss ad for the Bundesgartenshau in 1985 (Mary and I went to the version in Potsdam in 2001, by the way).  Here's a Wikipedia post about a park that was designed for that show.  I'll see if I can dig up our photos from the 2001 edition.

My Charlottenburger Pilsner deckel, a souvenir
of my 1996 visit on the way to Kiev.
A final photo to close out today's post, this time of Charlottenburger Pilsner.  To be honest, during my time in Berlin I didn't often drink these beers - they simply weren't served in many of the places I frequented.  I've got tons of deckels with Konig Pils, Tucher, and Jever, among others, and Pilsner Urquell, which we absolutely sought out.

Schultheiss in particualr was definitely an urban, city beer (Baltimore's Nattie Boh comes to mind) - but I do remember how refreshing it could be in a smoky disco.  You could get a six-pack of Berliner Kindl in cans at an imbiss near the Oskar Helene Heim U-bahn stop, and I do remember doing that a few times when I was taking University of Maryland classes down there.

As far as the Charlottenburger Pils goes, I don't remember trying it during my years there.  But during a visit in 1996 I stayed in Rhiemers Hofgarten  on a stopover on the way to Kiev, and I had a couple in the hotel bar.  That's probably where I got this deckel, but I'll see if I can't track down more info on Charlottenburg Pils for a future post - it appears to have an interesting story about an East Berlin connection.  

I have been feeling a bit nostalgic about Berlin these days, so I was happy to see that Thrillist post.  Took me back - I'm glad I still have the souvenirs!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Second Year Cascades @hawksbillhops

After I visited Bill's hop yard on Saturday, I headed over to Hawksbill Hop Yards for my weekly growing season check-in.  David had let me know what to expect, that the Cascades were in fine growing condition and had begun to flower, and I was looking forward to walking in the bines and having a look around.

The Cascades are coming along - we have five rows of them, which is about 300 plants.  Most reached the top of the trellis, which ranges from 10 - 16 feet - some slack has worked in to the assembly, so we'll need to tinker over the winter.

We are getting hit with Japanese beetles early this year.  They are eating the leaves on a good-sized sample of the bines, so we are working on a proactive management plan for this threat.  We're concerned that the loss of photosynthesis during prime growing days could mean we lose a few plants over the winter.
These plants are in their second year, and based on the production we're seeing so far, I can definitely see the changes from their maturity. We've planned for that to be a three-year process, but they are definitely on their way!

Our other varieties, Goldings, Fuggles, Chinook, and Columbus, aren't quite as far along, although we've had a pretty good showing from them.  We didn't string the Goldings, they were such slow starters, but they are definitely up and maybe should have gotten a chance after all!  We'll let them gain strength and then see how they do in year three.

The Chinooks and Fuggles are producing, but we may not harvest them this year to give them maximum time in the sun.  The Columbus don't seem to be doing as well, even as well as last year.

Finally, we have a small patch of 20 or so Centennials that we put in as an experiment.  During the spring, these bines were the first up, so I decided to keep them - there was a decision point back then about taking them out and replacing them with Fuggles.  Now that the summer is full on, the Centennials haven't grown any more, not even enough to find their strings, so I will take them out and put Fuggles there, so that we'll have two full rows of those.

Of course, David and I have that other project - Hawksbill Brewing Company - that is slated to open later in the fall, and that is limiting what we can do in the hop yard this year.  We hope to have the time and funds to be more attentive next year.  In the meantime, it looks pretty good for the Cascade harvest, so we should be able to brew with them at some point, achieving our goal of "grown here - brewed here!"

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Checking in on Bill's Cascades

On Saturday morning I took Tessie out for a ride, and while we were doing some errands we decided we might stop by to see our friends Bill and Rhonda on Main Street.  They are restoring two houses down there, and one of them is among Luray's oldest homes.  The second has come far enough along, with wonderful modern features like radiant floor heat, so that is now their comfortable residence.

A few years back, Bill got some Cascade rhizomes from neighbor Dan, and planted them along a trellis in a sunny spot in the backyard.  The bines have thrived back there - his set up is just about perfect with the sunny spot, the 8-feet of climb, and an elevated garden.

They've become something of a bell weather for Hawksbill  Hop Yards, since they're usually ready a few weeks before us, due to the microclimate in that neighborhood.

Bill's plot o' hops was one of the final inspirations for the decision to bring Hawksbill Hop Yards to life - harvesting those hops in 2014 (see the post) on a perfect day sealed the deal.  The photo on the left  is of him and John picking the Cascades (stylized with the Tangled app - it's also one of my favorites from the thousands I've taken with the iPhone).

Since then, I partnered with David and we started the farm, and of course that whole adventure is yet to run its course!  Still, one step at a time, and the hops harvest is nearly upon us, as indicated by Bill's Cascades.