As we welcome 2015, it’s a natural time to look back at the sometimes challenging and ever-eventful year that we just put behind us and the exciting and promising year that’s ahead. It’s also a great time to share some updates on our construction progress and nearing launch plans.
When we announced our Leslieville brewery build plans way back in January of 2014, we were intentionally vague with our commitment to an “early 2015” opening of our brewery, tap room and retail store given that we really just didn’t know how long the project would take. Nearly a year later, we’re pleased to tell you that while a few small roadblocks have put us just a smidge behind schedule, we’re really not very far off track. We still plan to be open early this year (THIS YEAR! That has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?), and if all goes according to plan we’ll open our doors this March. There are still a lot of moving pieces that need to fall into place in order for that to happen of course, but we’re working as hard as possible and maybe it’s the optimism of a new year speaking, but things are looking good.
We published our last construction update way back in September of 2014 and it feels like an eternity has passed since then. Here’s a photo journey through some of the major milestones that we’ve hit between then and now.
After hauling away 6 bins of concrete and 10 dump trucks full of sand, laying 8 inches of gravel and installing all of our drains, we were ready to pour our new concrete floors. There were nearly 30 people working on site and we received 8 truckloads of concrete that day.
It was a stressful and overwhelming affair but we ended up with some pretty gorgeous floors at the end of it all and we can honestly say that we’ve never before had the appreciation for concrete that we do now. We were so relieved that this part of the project was done.
As the concrete began to set, Mark set-off to Abbotsford, BC to visit NSI Newlands Systems and to test our 3-vessel, 20 Barrel (BBL) Brewhouse before it was sent to it’s final home on Wagstaff Drive. It was a whirlwind 24-hour trip during which Mark somehow managed to squeeze-in two brewery visits (there always seems to be time for visiting other breweries when we’re away from home). The brewing system looked and worked as expected and there were only a couple of small changes to piping and valves that needed to be made before the brew house was set on it’s railway journey across Canada.
The delivery of our three 40 BBL fermentation tanks from MacDonald Steel in Cambridge, Ontario was the next most nerve wracking day in our brewery build journey. The amazingly talented guys at Moonstone Mechanical helped us unload the tanks and stand them up without a scratch or dent to be spoken of.
As you’ll see in some of the photos, this was no small feat given the tight ceiling clearances in certain areas.
Seeing the 3 fermentors standing in place made the building feel like it might someday be an actual brewery for the first time ever. We were beaming and so were the tanks.
It turns out that the fermentor delivery was just a warm-up compared to the skill and precision that was involved in unloading and setting-up the brew house and boiler components. Heck, even getting the 53’ trailer onto Wagstaff Drive required some impressive driving skills.
Over the course of two days, we received our 5 brew house tanks (mash tun, lauter tun, kettle, cold liquor tank and hot liquor tank), a grist hopper, a 40 BBL brite beer tank, a grain mill, boiler and glycol chiller.
It took a couple more days to set everything in place and at least two more months to create all of the plumbing, steam and electrical connections. We’re not quite done yet, but it’s almost there.
As the Brewhouse was being set into place, we started working on our cold room. Set-up was really quick as the walls arrived in large panels. The cold room is a dual-purpose refrigerator that will store pallets of packaged beer and that will serve as our retail fridge with glass doors on the front.
The nicest thing about getting the cold room up and running was that our contract-brewed kegs could be stored locally instead of all the way across town, saving Mark about 2 hours each day on delivery runs. Score one for productivity!
Construction of the retail area, tap room, washrooms, plumbing, electrical and HVAC followed and the space is looking a lot more finished these days.
As we mentioned earlier, there are still a few major components that need to come together before we’re ready to brew and to open our doors. We’re currently working on glycol piping, compressed air, new doors and windows, licensing, and final finishes. We’re optimistic that test brews will be underway before the end of this month.
With a new year also comes an expanding roster at Left Field. We’re very pleased to introduce to you our newest team member, Austin Roach. Austin joins us as both a friend and a colleague – in fact, he was the first person that Mark met on the very first day of Brewing school at Niagara College and he hasn’t been able to get rid of us since. This may come as a surprise to some but Austin isn’t a huge baseball geek – more of a hockey guy, really. Austin is a professionally trained and experienced brewer who makes creative and delicious beers, is an incredibly smart and handy guy and as an added bonus to us, has an undeniably handsome beard. We’re so fortunate to have him join us.
Our early 2015 roster expansion also has us in the market for two more team additions. We’re hiring a Delivery Driver and a Sales Representative. Check out the job postings and get in touch if interested and qualified.
Before signing off, we wanted to squeeze in an acknowledgement and thank you to all of our neighbours on Wagstaff Drive and Ivy Avenue for their patience with the extra traffic, noise and heavy equipment that has taken over our little laneway over the past few months during our busiest phase of construction. We promise you, there will soon be beer on Wagstaff!
Lots on the go, with any luck our next construction update will include an official opening date.
Mark & Mandie