We’ve been asked lately why we decided to open a brewery and what it’s been like to go through this process. And because we are in the process of starting a brewery, our brows wrinkle and our eyes gloss over (We could all use a little sleep!). Well, here’s a little about it.
Why start a brewery?
We wish we could say something so unique that it knocks everyone’s socks off. But, 300 Suns Brewing was really just an idea brought up years ago, that kept surfacing every time a brewery was toured, a GABF was attended, a new craft beer was tasted, a bottle of homebrew was shared on the back deck in the cool summer evening air. It was just a dream and one day (gulp), we worked up the nerve to make it a reality. We wanted to put our time and our work into something that brought joy to others the way those moments brought joy to us. And we wanted to give our customers very meaningful ways that they could become part of the shaping of our brewery.
We had lots of ideas
Most of them sounded really awesome, especially when generated during a “tasting” session or a “research trip” to a local brewery. Many of them were discarded. Starting a brewery is a lot of work and it has taken a lot of editing on our part to put many of our ideas on the backburner because of time or money. That’s harder than it sounds. But, we hope it means we have lots of ideas to keep everything fresh in the coming years!
There are moments when you wonder if it is all going to go up in flames, or down in water.
A few days after we leased our space, the flood came. We nervously visited the building, watching 1st Avenue become an actual river and the water creep up the sides of the building, never making it in. Many were less fortunate, and the flood only delayed us a bit. We felt very lucky – so lucky that we named our pale ale after the temporary river.
Starting any business and dealing with plumbing, electric, licensing, permitting, etc. means that something can go wrong at every turn. And it seemed as some points that nothing was going to go smoothly, and we were never going to get around to the fun part…brewing and serving beer! We invested a lot in infrastructure that the customer will never see. BUT, our toilets flush, so that’s a really good thing.
One of our first deliveries of malt on a pallet rolled down the truck, through our garage door and into the tasting room, gaining speed at an ungodly rate. It nearly crashed through the glass-windowed wall but was stopped just a few inches to spare. I saw the life of the brewery flash before my eyes…then I immediately went over to smell the malt. It was calming.
Beer is a baby
So, we love our beer. It took months and months to hone the recipes, weekend after weekend of homebrewing double batches. And it was amazing when we created beers that we loved. But it’s one thing loving your own beer, it’s another pleasing the palates of customers.
The first time you serve your beer it’s like showing your newborn to a stranger and wondering if they think the baby is as cute as you do. We had a few opportunities before we started the build out phase to serve our test batches of beer to complete strangers. We had a private tasting and we got to serve at Longmont’s Oktoberfest. There is nothing more exhilarating and also as nerve-wracking as watching the reaction as each person took a sip. (Please love our baby, please love our baby.) But, man, was it addictive! It is life-affirming to create, serve and enjoy craft beer. The night of Oktoberfest, we all fell asleep with smiles on our faces knowing this was, well, right.
Everything is perfectly not perfect
It is really, really hard to put a lot of sweat, blood (literally, don’t look too close) and tears into constructing a brewery and making craft beer, only for it not to be perfection. We envisioned our first beers to be breathtaking, our penny countertop to be glass smooth, our woodwork to be flawless. They aren’t.
But what they are is something much better. The imperfections mean nearly everything in the brewery and certainly all the beer served here is hand crafted with passion. It means we learned something along the way. And it means we made some unexpected mistakes that turned out to be blessings. Building the brewery and crafting these first beers has taught us that owning a brewery is going to be a journey. One which will be fun and challenging. And the results, we hope, will be much better than perfection. The results will be interesting, sometimes flawed and always from the heart. And as for the journey, we really hope you will enjoy coming along on it with us.
Here we go people! We have set the tentative opening date for February 22. If all goes as planned (of course, when has any of it gone as planned?!?!?!) then we should be able to serve up our first beers that day. It’s been a hard, exciting journey and many things haven’t gone as planned, but many things have fallen into place thanks to great support from family and friends both old and new!
We look forward to the many trials and tribulations, as well as good times to continue as we strive to bring good beer and a community gathering place to Longmont, Colorado!
Penny bartop – it took DAYS to lay down all these pennies. There are some foreign ones courtesy of Chamberlain Coins (Thanks Mark!) and of our brewer Mark Lusher (Thanks other Mark!).
Julie Clement did this beautiful piece of art just for us in her signature style. Check out her other work at http://www.clementinedotart.com/
A month from demolition and construction is well underway. Framing is up, electrical mechanical and plumbing rough are done and drywall is going in as I type this.
It’s very exciting to see everything taking shape:
November 22, framing the cooler, digging the plumbing
We were fortunate to land some great tables and chairs at an auction and we are refinishing them (all 34 chairs and 5 tables) for the tasting room. It has been a laborious process and isn’t done yet, but we hope the results will be worth it. At the very least, a lot of hard work and love has gone into them…
Well, it started with needing to demolish a room before the construction could begin…
The way is cleared for construction to begin!
Thank you to The Augusta Group and our Architect, Rick Morton for agreeing to take on this project. We can’t wait to see the results of our collaboration!
The good news
First, we narrowly escaped the great flood of 2013 which sadly put thousands of people from their homes and caused damages to many businesses in Longmont and across Colorado. Because we didn’t have anything in the space yet, it was less stressful than it could have been. It was bad news for many in the Longmont community but so amazing to see everyone pulling together to support one another in rebuilding!
The better news
We had the amazing opportunity to participate in Left Hand Brewery’s Oktoberfest this year. (Thank you Left Hand!) We thought we would just be able to tell everyone about our new location, hand out some stickers, sell a few t-shirts, give away a year of beer, etc. However, just in time, our federal (TTB) licensing and state licensing went through (in less than 30 days, to our surprise) and we were able to serve samples of our beer for a $1 donations.
The best news
Though we knew we would love serving our beer to the public, I don’t think any of us realized how MUCH we truly would enjoy it. Oktoberfest was an energizing event for 300 Suns Brewing and we are more excited than ever to be opening our brewery in this outstanding city.
Did you think that was the “best news”? It’s pretty good, but the best news is, we got to hand over $1129.39 to flood relief efforts, and all because of the generosity of Longmont and surrounding area’s craft loving community. How (I’ve run out of words for awesome) is that?
We have been hard at work:
Man, working through the licensing has been a bear, so if you haven’t heard much from us, that is why. We would sure rather be brewing beer, than dealing with paperwork. But, we have happily completed the hundreds of pages of supplied info for the license applications and now the federal and state licensing are just waiting for approval.
Meanwhile, some awesome stuff happened and we FINALLY have really exciting news:
We have a space!!!! That’s right, we’ve signed a lease at 335 1st Avenue, Unit C. If you aren’t familiar with that area, we are east of the Cheese Importers, South of the former turkey plant (click here for a map).
It’s a great central location, in the Downtown District, but still in a somewhat industrial area to accommodate the brewery. The landlord takes great care of the property and we can’t wait to be a valuable addition to the mix of tenants there. Here’s some rendering of the plans for the space:
We are very excited to start working on building out the space and hope it’s much more fun than the last couple of months have been…
Come say “hi” at Oktoberfest:
Since we don’t have a license yet, we can’t serve beer at the upcoming Oktoberfest, but Josh at Left Hand Brewing was gracious enough to ask us to participate with a booth at the event! So, we will be there selling t-shirts and bottle openers (portion of the proceeds going to charity), giving away stickers, and you can enter to win a cool giveaway which inclused a free growler fill every month for a year! We look forward to seeing everyone there. This is a fun event and supports some really worthy causes.
Thanks again to everyone in the community and out who are helping to make this dream a reality!
…with Indiegogo funds
Thanks to the generous support of the community, we were able to place an order for our kettle this past week. Check out our supporters here. We now have the mash tun in our hands and are still scouting locations and have some promising prospects.
We expect things to move quickly in the coming months! Check us out on Facebook or Twitter for more timely updates. Be sure to make beer suggestions and sign up to be notified of our Collabeeration events. This is a special email list just for these events so you don’t miss out on the opportunity to compete with your best brews, or to participate in a judging panel. We can’t wait to see you in the brewery later this year!
We are currently brewing our test brews, getting our business plan in order and scouting out locations. 300 Suns Brewing is going to be a community brewery so YOUR input will shape the brews you get to drink there! Check back soon for information on our Collabeeration concept. For now, please let us know what you would like to see brewed and fan us on facebook so we can keep you up to date on our progress. CHEERS!