welcome Jake Nunes!

While brief, this is a very exciting post: I am pleased to announce that we have offered our Taproom Manager position to a well qualified candidate who has accepted! We are thrilled to welcome Jake Nunes to our team!

jnunes

Jake is a veteran of San Diego's food and beverage industry and has over 22 years of experience with a focus on management and bar leadership. He developed his passion for craft beer in 2003 while working at Karl Strauss and has since proven himself to be a true Craft Beer enthusiast who has sampled thousands of different beers and has visited over a hundred breweries. In addition to Karl Strauss, Jake has held positions at a number of breweries and craft beer establishments including Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits, Stone Brewing, Green Flash Brewing and Tiger! Tiger! Tavern. In 2011, Jake was awarded the title of Certified Cicerone® and he was one of the first to complete the Advanced Cicerone exam (results coming soon!). Jake currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Business of Craft Beer program at San Diego State University and is the instructor of the Beer Styles II course. Jake's extensive and well rounded experience makes him the ideal candidate to lead our taproom team.

In the coming weeks, Jake will be helping to interview and hire candidates for all taproom positions. Keep your eyes on our careers page as well as our social media outlets for these and other new career opportunities at North Park Beer Co.

progress, progress, and more progress!

7 weeks since an update?? Shame on me. Sorry NPBC fans! The day-to-day schedule over here at NPBC HQ is pretty crazy, but I won't let that stop me from getting you the update that you deserve. Thanks for your patience. For the sake of time, this post will be mostly pictures and I think you'll be impressed with the progress.

In our last episode we talked about the dilemmas of remodeling an old building like ours. Concrete woes, expansive soils, headache for days! Fortunately, we have put all that behind us and have moved forward. Actually, once we got back above the dirt, things have gone great and fast! Here's a somewhat chronological recap of what we were able to get done:

February 15TH:

Our concrete was poured back and looks fantastic. Here's the foundation of our brewhouse and fermentation cellar (on the left), tasting room galley (center and top end), and the bar/cold storage area (far right):

February 16th:

Our superintendent Jeremiah left his 2 cents buried into the stemwall around the brewery area:

February 17th:

Glycol piping overhead and a custom riser frame for serving tanks with keg storage underneath were roughed in:

February 20th:

The back wall of our massive 16 foot tall cold box went in:

Progress on glycol piping and jacketing. We opted for insulated schedule 80 PVC piping for the main run. Insulated copper drops will follow:

February 23rd:

Pony wall framed out around our brewhouse area and fermentation cellar:

February 24th:

A huge milestone, we were finally able to take delivery of our fermentation vessels and serving tanks! Some surface prep work was finished on our super cool serving tank rack and the tanks were set on top.

February 25th:

Our shiny 15 barrel brewhouse from Premier Stainless Systems arrived in all of its glory! Prep work on the floors started in the beer production area. Our serving tanks were welded onto the rack in the cold box. A whole lot of stuff happening at once.

February 26th:

Our Argelith hex tile starts going down! Both functional and beautiful, this type of floor covering is 3/4" thick, incredibly durable, and will probably outlast us all.

March 7th-11th:

A whole lot happened during this week. All trades made substantial progress. Tanks started moving into place, glycol lines were more substantially roughed in, tiling inside the cold box commenced, our gigantic cold box door was installed, tanks were welded onto their footings, and our brewhouse was carefully moved into position. Great progress all around. 

March 14th:

Tile in the cold box was completed, and drywall was installed all around the brewery, offices and bathrooms.

March 18th:

We've been working on our preliminary set of merch items too!

March 25th:

Some of our interior design features coming from BASILE Studio have started taking form. We had some of our favorite historical quotes cut into a railing that will go on top of the wall surrounding our brewhouse. Also, work began on the amazing streetlamps that will illuminate our tasting room area. Lastly, some seriously beefy gates which will interlock and close up the far end of the beer production area.

march 29th:

BASILE Studio has been working on the cladding our cold box with wood paneling and millwork. It doesn't look like much yet, but this is going to be one incredible showpiece back bar when it has been completed.

March 30th:

One of the challenges with our layout is that we have fermentation vessels on one side of the room, serving tanks on the other, and area to be occupied by customers in between. However, we didn't want to be limited to transferring beer during only off hours, so custom stainless steel process piping is being fabricated to move the beer up and over. 

 

So, that about concludes this update. These pictures really only scratch the surface of all the progress we've been able to achieve in a relatively short period of time. Our construction team has been doing a stellar job all around. If a few critical open items can resolve, such as getting our permanent power connected, then it is entirely possible that we'll be able to start brewing beer within the next couple of weeks! This has been a long time coming and we cannot wait to start making beer for good folks like you.

On the careers front, we've had our taproom manager job posting up for a few weeks now and we have received substantial interest from a number qualified candidates. It is truly humbling and exciting to see so many great people wanting to be a part of our company. We are carefully working our way through the list and hope to be able to introduce you to the first new member of the NPBC team very soon!

Until next time my friends, cheers!

the saga of expansive soil

Hey there NPBC fans! This update is a bit overdue, but with the number of irons I have in the fire right now, there just has not been enough downtime to put forth a proper update. Thanks for being patient and following along so far. Be sure to follow us on Instagram for more in the moment construction updates.

Over the last several weeks, we've made quite a bit of progress and we hit a few unexpected snags. The snags are probably par for the course when you consider the fact that we're turning a 1940's era department store building into a full on brewpub.

The most significant issue we discovered was that the original concrete floor in the front area of the building (where all our heavy beer production tanks will go) was not constructed in compliance with modern building codes. We discovered this when we cut out the first sections of the old 4" slab. The cut out chunks would drop down onto the sand beneath, and in some areas by several inches. We were surprised to find that there was no integral rebar in the slab, but rather that it was poured on a thin wire mesh offering little structural stability. What's worse is that as larger sections of the slab were cut and detached from adjacent sections, the remaining peninsular shapes slowly settled by inches onto the dirt below and resulted in sloping floors that were now too steep to comply with ADA standards. More and more concrete had to be removed. Our plans called for the removal of about 1,500 square feet of concrete and at the point that we were ready to start putting in trenches, we had removed about 2,300 square feet instead.

Concurrent with slab removal, we began digging trenches for the new waste water and vent pipes to service our bar fixtures and floor drains in the beer production areas. We quickly discovered that beneath the sand layer there was soil consisting primarily of clay. Clay is an "expansive soil" meaning that it swells when it gets wet. This discovery required a call to our special inspector as per our building plans.

Our special inspector promptly came out to check the structural integrity of the soil. The inspection involved the use of a T shaped probe to check the soil for its relative compaction value. The special inspector will hold the top of the T with both hands and then drive the probe into the ground below. In an ideal situation, the probe should only go into the ground a couple inches at most (good compaction), but instead it went down to his knuckles (very, very bad compaction). He checked several other areas and found the same results. This was, uh, how do you say... not good, not good at all. His assumption was that, "this [soil] wasn't even driven over by a truck before they poured the old slab." This was not exactly what I wanted to hear when I'm trying to get this brewery open in a timely manner.

The next step was to have a full soils investigation done. This is a time consuming and expensive process. This meant having a drilling rig on site to take core samples while a soils engineer observed and took notes:

The samples were sent to a soils testing lab and we were given an ETA of "about a week" for a written report. In the interim, the special inspector provided a recommendation based on his discussions with the soils engineer. Paraphrased, the recommendation stated, "1.) remove all remaining concrete, 2.) excavate and mix 3' of soil, 3.) scarify 1' of remaining soil, 4.) compact to compliant compaction value, 5.) bring in excavated soil and compact in 8" increments to compliant compaction value, 6.) bring in new material as needed to achieve grade level. 7.) Then, and only then, pick up where you left off and resume digging trenches again."  But, this is just the special inspector's recommendation. We really couldn't do much of anything to fix this problem until we have a documented soils report based on the soils lab's findings. Our report took nearly 3 full weeks to come available and was just about verbatim with what the special inspector thought would be required. So, out came the rest of the last 1,200 square feet or so of the slab and in comes the backhoe:

While this soils debacle pretty much sucks, it is fortunate that the entire project was not at a total standstill. We were able to stay on track with construction in our basement, mezzanine and on the ground floor above the basement. Most of our framing, electrical, plumbing and mechanical have been roughed in or completed in those areas. Open framed walls are not particularly interesting to look at... so I'll spare you the pictures.

We have since corrected the soils issue per the reported recommendations. Trenches were dug (again) and plumbing and electrical were roughed out in the brewery and bar areas. Trench drains were installed, which is something of a milestone as that is the first item to go in that makes it feel like you're building a brewery. Rebar was laid out and framing for curbs around our brewhouse and fermentation cellar were completed on Monday and finally, concrete was poured in that area on Tuesday:

More rebar went in yesterday and the remaining concrete will be poured today and Saturday. That should mostly catch you up with construction related detail. 

Beyond construction, there are a lot of fun projects in the works at NPBC HQ. We're working on finalizing our first selection of merchandise items, wrapping up job descriptions for the first set of career opportunities we'll be making available, and solidifying kitchen and food service plans.

Stay tuned!

THE DREAM TEAM

It took a wee bit longer than expected to get our general contractor signed on, but we're now good to go and we will be breaking ground this week!

Before we get started, I thought I'd take a moment to talk about the dream team that was selected to design and construct NORTH PARK BEER CO.

For architectural services, we hired HAUCK ARCHITECTURE to develop our construction drawings. If you aren't familiar, Dustin Hauck is one of the most qualified architects for a project like ours. Hauck has pulled permits for a number of breweries all over Southern California. Our building is quite old and presented us with a number of challenges ranging from complex utility upgrades to ADA compliance improvements. We've got a sizable basement, but no freight access. We've got an awesome mezzanine, but no handicapped access. Dustin and his engineering team came up with solutions for all of our challenges. In the end, we'll have a very functional brewing system in a building that is compliant with all building code standards. 

After function comes form. In my opinion, interior design is an oft overlooked element in the landscape of breweries. As our small, independent breweries shift further into the mainstream focus, I believe that the tasting room environment is only going to become a more critical aspect of the brewery's identity. Yes, brewing high quality beer is the single highest priority, but creating a great space for patrons to enjoy that beer in should not be an afterthought. Thus, for interior design and fabrication, we signed on the one and only BASILE STUDIO. At our first meeting, I told principal designer Paul Basile that I wanted to create a space that pays homage to North Park in both historical and contemporary context. Over the last several months Paul's design team has developed a very unique looking design plan that melds 1920s arts & crafts and mid century modern detail coupled with Basile Studio's innovative industrial styling. They have simply done amazing work thus far and I cannot wait for you all to see it come together.

Here's a sneak peek of the main bar design:

 

Another very important aspect of the form side of our project is branding development, and we signed up MOTHER SPONGE to drive this effort. With a similar approach to the interior design, we wanted to give a nod toward the 1920s era Arts & Crafts movement, but also resonate with contemporary style. My favorite logos are those that have a clean, die-cut look to them (The Bruery and Modern Times come to mind) and I am extremely pleased with how our logo has evolved into its current state. Our logos, tap handle design, merchandise, and growler system are all courtesy of Sean Kelley/Mother Sponge.

To oversee implementation of the function and form, we selected URBAN CONSTRUCTION MANAGEMENT a brewery specialist group within Richard & Richard Construction. Urban-CM has a well established reputation for building great breweries. They recently wrapped up construction of the massive 105,000 square foot AleSmith project and also built half a dozen breweries of our size within the last year (including Duck Foot, Second Chance, Saint Archer and others). This is a construction team that understands the challenges of building a brewery, knows how to mobilize, executes with precision, and delivers the project on schedule. Urban-CM has committed to getting our project done within 14 weeks. The schedule is no doubt aggressive, but they are confident that we'll have beer in the tanks come March.

So that's the team and I think you'll agree, it would be hard to put together a better one for this project. 

Tomorrow we are getting started. We'll have another demolition crew back in the space, cutting up concrete, and setting the stage for our brand spanking new 15 barrel brewhouse from Premier Stainless Systems. In about 14 short weeks, we'll fire up the kettles and start making beer. Our tasty beers like Hop-Fu! will finally be in your glass. The fun starts... now!

building permits pulled, demo has started!

Things are finally starting to move over here at NPBC Headquarters - last week our architect Dustin Hauck of Hauck Architecture secured our building permits! I promptly followed that by getting a demolition crew come through and gut out all of the wood framing, duct work, offices, bathrooms, and other random building elements.

Here's a quick look before things really started coming apart:

The bulk of the work took 3 full days with as many as 10 workers on site at a time. We now have a "clean" shell to get construction started. The canvas is blank and we are ready to roll!

If all goes well, construction should start next week! Stay tuned...