I still have beer

Hey y’all –

Thursday came and went, and while it was cozy and festive, it was no beer crazed frenzy like opening Wednesday. While I’m thrilled about the early response, I’m also happy to say that I am able to stay open for Friday business. Weird spring hail seems to be good for keeping your beer in your kegs. The Rye IPA, CDA and West Coast IPA are not available for growler fill until next batch, but I’m happy to pour them as pints on site until they are gone. For growlers, I can only pour the Pale this week, at least until it is gone. Thank you everyone for making such an auspicious start to Standard Brewing!

Look for the Session Pale and Wheated Red, as well as more Rye IPA next Wednesday!

Holy cow, people. I love you all.

Thank you to everyone that came out yesterday!

And to everyone that might be trying to visit on Friday or Saturday, I should warn you that there is a chance that I may have to close for a few days while I stock up on kegs. As the night progressed, I had to limit sales on a few things to make sure that I could keep a little variety for Thursday patrons. I will have a limited supply this week, so please check in here to make sure that I’ll be open before coming down. I should be fairly stocked up by next Wednesday with the Session Pale, Wheated Red Ale, and more Rye IPA.

Again, a huge thanks to the CD community for such a great kick off. Time to go brew my pants off!

Opening Party!!

Hey all.

It turns out that opening an establishment is every bit as much a pain in the tuckus as I expected it to be. As the long haul is wrapping up, you are all invited down to have a pint, chat about beer, and share in some good cheer. I’ve met a lot of great neighbors since press started going out, and if they are any indication of the friendliness and excitement I’ll be faced with over the coming months, I’m thrilled to be making and serving beer to our community. The party will be Wednesday, March 20th from 4pm – 10pm, or whenever things slow down. See you there!

Late News Flash: It’s Official!

It happened on Friday, but I’ve been too busy to take a second to write about it. Standard Brewing LLC is approved to occupy the building at 2504 S Jackson St for the purposes of making beer and selling it for on premise as well as off premise consumption. It’s been a long, hard battle, but I’m pretty stubborn. As it stands, the opening party is on Wednesday, March 20th. I’ll be open from 4-?pm that night, but 4-8 Wednesday through Saturday to start. Hope to see you there! I look forward to meeting all my neighbors.

2 inspections down, 1 to go

Today, the Fire Department signed off on Standard Brewing, and that paves the way for my final inspection with the DPD, scheduled for tomorrow. This one doesn’t seem like a tough one, but let’s not grow optimistic, lest the we be caught off guard.

In fermentors I’ve got a barrel each of the Imperial IPA, Rye IPA, and CDA. The Rye IPA is almost done, and it’s quite nice. The grain bill includes 2 Row, Rye, Caramel 40L and Chocolate Malt. It’s dry hopped with Simcoe, Centennial, and Citra. I’m currently giving White Labs’ San Diego Super Yeast a spin with this one, and so far I’m loving it. It’s clocking in at about 6.7%, which is right where I wanted it.

The CDA is getting close to wrapping up as well. My take on a CDA (or Black IPA, if you must) is much lighter in color than most. It’s an undefined category of beer, and still getting hashed out by the community. I feel like it’s a good time to play with the boundaries of this style, perhaps even differentiating the CDA (Cascadian Dark Ale) from the BIPA in some way. I prefer mine to be both a touch more roasty and sweet than a typical IPA, but aromatic and bitter. I don’t want just an IPA that is dark, and I don’t want the hops to get lost in a porter-like frame. The deep brown red hues on the lighter end of the black IPA spectrum appeal to me, and so this is where I’m aiming. This guy should finish around 9%, and features Cascade, Chinook, Columbus and Willamette.

Last up is the Imperial IPA, which is going to finish around 8%, so it’s riding the line between regular style and Imperial in my book. This beer gets to play with the new hop known as “Belma”. First-worting Cascade, Columbus and Belma, and whirlpool hopping with Belma and Willamette, this should be a fun way to highlight what it brings to the table. Smelling them fresh, Belma is a hard hop to pin down. Some say “strawberries” or “melon” or “pineapple-tropical”. I’m staying agnostic for the moment, but this should be a fun trial. Dry hopping will be determined once I get a feel for what the fermented wort wants.

Stay posted for neighborhood events. Opening parties (very plural) should be cascading through very shortly.

Update: Good News!

So I’ve been tied up lately tuning up the equipment lately and haven’t had time to post anything. It definitely isn’t for lack of things to write about. The Department of Public Health inspected and approved today. I’m still waiting for the Fire Department and the DPD final inspections, which should hopefully come within the week. Official opening will hopefully be next Saturday, the 16th. Hooray!

So it turns out the moving to a completely new system means a cascading deluge of issues you’ve never seen before. I’m using a RIMS setup (stands for “Recirculating Infusion Mash System”), which involves recirculating your wort during the mash from the top to the bottom, creating a tight grain bed to filter your final runoff with. Well, I also made myself a kick-ass mill, if you’ll remember from the early posts. It turns out the Crankandstein’s 3 roller mill crushes more fine than one can use with a RIMS setup. Even on the coarsest grind setting I have been getting stuck mashes. I called Don, who makes them, and he is a fantastic fellow, offering to take a return if it doesn’t work out. He suggested removing the 3rd roller, so I’m going to give it a try. Nevertheless, I’ve stuck 3 mashes now, and I’m getting very tired of it.

It also turned out that I was running my mash burner too hot, which was creating air as it boiled the wort under the false bottom. That air would get sucked into the pump, slowing it down and creating wild temperature fluctuations as the controller inappropriately read the wort temperature. I think I’ve got it all figured out now, after tossing 3 batches. As a result, I may be a little shy on variety at opening time, but I’m working to crank out batches, so hopefully everything will even out when I run with 2 rollers on the mill.

Has everyone heard that Chuck’s Hop Shop is moving into the CD? Uhmayzing. I can’t tell you how great this is. They have the best selection in town, and they have permitting to allow drinking in the store. You might think I’d be bothered that there is somewhere else opening at the same time offering beer in growlers and on site drinking, but I’m not. I’m a firm believer that more is better. Bringing a critical mass of beer interest to the neighborhood can only get people out, being social, engaging in beer conversation. I also love the idea that the CD is working toward being a little hotspot for craft beer. Along with the CDBC, we now have a tiny cult of beer fanatics brewing away.

Lastly, the always awesome Ian Hunter is painting my logo on the wall this week, which will surely make it obvious to the neighborhood what’s been going on. Feel free to stop by if you’re in the neighborhood!

Brew School: Wyeast discussion

I feel like every time I bring up yeast at a bar, somebody gives me the stink eye. If you don’t brew or make wine or distill (or make kombucha, cheese, bread or yogurt) you’ve probably never considered the awesome little world of microorganisms. You probably also think it’s a dirty word. Let me tell you something … it is fascinating. At the end of the day, it’s my second favorite thing about brewing (first being drinking the beer, natch). I’m going to start sharing links to informational videos and articles that I think every brewer should know about under the title “Brew School”. Here is the first. It’s a talk with Owen LIngley from Wyeast (with White Labs, one of the two most important brewing yeast companies) done at Northern Brewer (an awesome brew store in Wisconsin). If you brew, you should watch this.

Hey artist friends …

All y’all that I’ve known for years … I’ve served you all lots of booze between the Hideout and Vito’s. I know some of you work for beer, and I know you are great with the paintbrush. I need someone to put my logo on this gray wall: IMG_1087


I just need white lettering about 6 feet across. Two words. Any takers? I will give you beeeeeeeeeeeeeer.


Do you brew?

Do you live in the Central District? Well, shit. Do you live anywhere around Seattle? Even if you lived in North Bend, it would be worth driving to hang with these guys for a brew day. I’ve been living in a house sandwiched between two of these guys for a couple years, and only just got to know them since news of the brewery hit the ground.

To sum it up, these guys are awesome. Whether you just got your first extract kit, or just welded together a brew stand complete with PID controllers and water treatment, you’ll enjoy a hang with the Central District Brewing Collective. Go see their website, make some new friends, and get your brew on. If there is one thing this craft can always benefit from, it’s more conversation over boiling wort with pints in hand.

Feeling charitable? I’m crowdsourcing!

As things come down to the wire, there are a couple elements that I’ve been trying to find on Craigslist that I just can’t seem to lock down. If anyone has any of the following, I’d love to talk to you about possibly buying them from you.

4 person patio table and chairs – I’m willing to do a little touch up work if they aren’t in perfect condition.

2 upright freezers – This one is tricky. I need the shelves to be removable and the inside dimensions to be a minimum of 24″x24″ and 50″ high. The shelves on the door are not an issue, I’ll be cutting them off.

iPad – Anyone have an old one that they don’t use anymore? It seems that these things don’t lose much value. I just need one for a POS system.

Shoot me a message in Facebook or you can email me from the contact info on the website. Any and all favors not involving cash will definitely involve some kind of beery return.

TTB Approval!

It’s official … I can make beer and sell it at 2504 S Jackson St without going to jail for it, or at least federal prison. Washington State LCB has given me conditional (on the TTB) approval, but not made it official yet. The Seattle Department of Planning and Development (DPD) is the biggest concern right now, but it’s my last real agency of concern. To be continued …

And then some good news …

After a few roller-coastery phone calls with various agencies, the tide is beginning to turn back in my favor. The DPD, which is in charge of land use and construction permits, has thrown me a bone in the form of Brian, the great fellow who just basically skipped me a step and fast forwarded my application 6 weeks. This chips a chunk off the top of the supposed 2 and a half months they surprisingly quoted me last time. I’m not going to go into detail, because it is head-bangingly boring, but I thought I’d throw that out there. I also got notice this week that the health department should be about 2 weeks from approval. They been very helpful in pre-screening meetings. My past experiences with the health department inspectors has not been a positive one, so let’s see if this holds up.

Best of all, I finally heard back from the TTB. Er, actually, I finally got them to answer my calls. I applied October 26th for a brewer’s notice. They quote you a quick 92 days from start to finish. Last Monday was the 92 day mark, and I called them for the 4th time “just to check up on things”. I had been told weeks before Monday that my application had been assigned to an agent who was busy processing it. Monday rolled around, and I was told that it had been reassigned to a new agent and that she was busy processing it. I would hear back that week some time.

Yesterday, at 103 days, I called again. They said that if I wanted to know about the progress, I could log into my online account, where details would be posted. I immediately logged in while they were still on the phone, and I got a screen that told me my password had been reset. I ask why this has happened, and she tells me it’s because it’s been so long since I last logged in. (!!!) I wanted to tell her that the TTB might consider lengthening that password reset time if it was gonna take so damn long to get the permit, but I didn’t. I get logged in, and the lady is trying to get me off the phone, before I notice in the notes that there is instruction for a Mr. Cass (presumably the applicant), saying that there are necessary changes he needs to make. Due to his lack of response, the application is about to be abandoned. Gahh! I am not Mr. Cass! I’ve been diligently calling to check up on it! Why is the lady not looking at the notes?! What is this parallel universe I’m in?!

The nice, but inattentive lady on the phone finally transfers me to the agent that is handling my application. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. Actual contact with the person who has the power to say, “Yes, Justin, make beer and sell it”, or “Go suck on a carrot, you scofflaw, we would never let you make intoxicating spirits and profit from it!” Turns out this lady, known as “Terry”, is one of the good ones. She apologizes profusely for the lag in time, and wants to know if we can review the situation right now. I agree calmly, but with vigor. Three issues pop up.

First, a small clarification from an investor. Done. Second, the tax-paid service area (read “tasting room”) needs to be separated from the brewing area by a permanent wall or door. I start stressing. This would be a major hitch, and mean talking my landlord into it (his English is very primitive, and he just wants everything to be easy), paying a contractor to build it, changing the DPD’s plans and slowing them down, and breaking up the floor plan, which I really like having open the way it is. The gods speak to me from on high, and I suddenly realize that the front door swings about an inch from the keg cooler. A latch connecting the two would create a barrier between the spaces. She hesitates, consults her boss and agrees to it. Phew! You can imagine it in the floor plan below.

Floor plan

The most troubling, though not difficult to fix issue came in the form of a box that was incorrectly checked on my brewer’s bond, which is a $1000 security you have to purchase, ensuring the government of a buffer, should you decide not to pay your barrel taxes. The company I bought it from checked the one that says I “have” been convicted of fraudulent or felonious activities, a total record scratcher. A short (and kurt) conversation with said professional turned this ball around.

So we now have the TTB on the a roll. All requirements satisfied, I have the agent’s direct line, her attention, and I half expect to hear from her today saying that it’s a go. Please cross your fingers, because this would be a big deal.

Bad news

I suppose I should have seen it coming. Everyone that starts a business that includes alcohol eventually talks about a last minute hitch. It’s like the October surprise of boozy entrepreneurship. I’ve been very good about doing my research with this project. When you are struggling to do things on a shoestring, you can’t run in headlong. Risks have to be calculated. When it comes to the DPD, who needs to sign off on the change of the use of my space, the bureaucratic maze of codes and regulations and three letter acronyms has been head spinning. I can only wonder what the guys that put up skyscrapers and shopping malls go through.

The DPD has this nifty little website called the Project Portal, which seems to be their response to the one big problem that they have (outside all those codes ‘n stuff): you have to go downtown and wait in their office for 1-2 hours to do ANYTHING. Gotta talk to a land use coach for advice? No phone number … you gotta hoss on down and find parking in downtown, or bike in the rain, sign in at the desk with the frenetic, crazy lady, and wait like a tool until they call your name. This goes for permit specialists, engineers, all of them.

So I took the Project Portal on. In my 8 trips to the DPD, I picked up about 15 CAMs (client assistance memos), and figured out that the limited scope of my project would only need an MUP (master use permit), and the process would only take a grand total of about 2 weeks, start to finish. I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve been tweaking my architectural plans and getting things in line for months now. I figured I’m about a month out right now, and I thought I’d be conservative and get the ball rolling, so I dove into the Portal with my very own project number assigned to me in person by a permit specialist. The first number is 3. This will be important in a minute.

I get assigned a guy, and I get through the PAR (preliminary application report) and my PASV (preliminary application site visit) and tweak the plans a little. Next is a pre-screening, the intake appointment, more inspectors, and approvals. It turns out the damn portal won’t let me get a pre-screening, so I call my guy, and he alerts me, to my horror, that my 3 series number (a simple land use permit) will not do, that he’s assigned me a 6 series number (a construction permit). He then tells me that while the screening appointments for 3 series numbers are almost day of, 6 series numbers are 6 weeks out. WTFFFFFFFF!

Bottom line: according to today’s news, I’m at least 2 months from opening, and I could just pop the head off a kitten, I’m so mad. Tomorrow I’m gonna be finessing this situation as much as possible, and seeing if there’s something that can be done. More to come …

Final Stretch

The DPD application is submitted! The inspectors are sniffing around! City Light has signed off! The gas is turned on!

Things are finally starting to come together. I’m ordering printed pint glasses and t shirts and no longer making architectural drawings. This thing might actually happen. I got the fermentation chamber running yesterday, so I should be about ready to brew a batch this week.

Stay tuned!


So my first run of numbers made it look like I could be a wholesale facility and get away with it. My plan was to hide from the general public and turn into a scientist, making the best damn beer I could. I’d be alone with my ideas and I’d be able to crank it out and focus. I’d be a beer-making hermit. As one does, I left a few things out, and it turns out that everyone who says nanobreweries are difficult to turn a profit on are correct.

However, the guys that say they are impossible are dead wrong! Or, at least I think they are. I’ve stared at and tweaked and massaged the numbers into worst case scenarios, and it doesn’t seem impossible at all. It might be impossible if you plan on working 35 hours a week and being disorganized, but I like working, and I like building efficient systems. I’m counting on my work ethic and previous experience being the guy who pushes the beer to guide me through the process of profiting with it.

In light of financial analysis, and the fact that I’m beginning to miss the social interaction of standing behind a bar and helping people have a good time, it is impossible for me to not consider having a tasting room. I clearly do not have enough space to run a proper nightlife establishment from, but I can squeeze a crowd of 15-20 in and sell them all a few beers. If there is one thing I learned from the last 10 years of working in bars, it is that product counts for, at most, 50% of your draw. Hospitality and vibe are everything else. And most of that might be comprised of lighting and music.

Since the space has the brightest motherfriggin’ fluorescent lights you’ve ever seen, I fixed up a couple vintage industrial lights in the “tasting room” area. If the brewery was gonna be clinically lighted, I could at least provide refuge and try to separate them with furnishings. A trip to Earthwise brought a little inspiration in the form of an old schoolhouse sign with press in letters and grooved felt and planks of milled fir. The sign was hideous. Earthwise clearly wanted it gone, but I felt (no pun intended) that it had potential. It was suffering from a reddish stain on it’s mahogany frame, and it was capped by totally corroded brass (I like mahogany and brass) enveloping three felt boards, two black and one emerald green. It seemed like it just needed a solid sanding and stain and it would totally fit the vibe I’m going for. And it did! Somehow, I missed the before shot, but just use your imagination:

The plank is visible in the background. It was pretty rough reclaimed wood that really needed to be run through a thickness planer before sanding, but I just don’t have that kind of time, so 4 hours of sanding did the trick. 60 grit, 120 grit, 220 grit, 320 grit, so much sanding … a few coats of walnut stain and polyurethane, and voila!

The Earthwise gal gave me a massive amount of letters in about 4 different sizes, so I won’t be running out any time soon. I’ll be hanging the sign at some point – it’s just sitting on the bar top. Oh yeah, I found a bunch of stools on Craigslist today for $20 a pop. It’s damn near inviting! Time to start cleaning up the sawdust and do my sawing outside!