Rob and I spend a good amount of time out and about and run into people that either know about NCBC or are interested to know more about what we’re up to, so here’s a quick “where we’re at” update.
Right now we’re in a somewhat self-and-government imposed holding pattern. We submitted our application for a Brewery Notice to the TTB (Tax and Trade Bureau) the first week of November 2010 and our Collateral Bond check cleared on November 8th. The application states that it takes a minimum of 95 days to process and complete, but from the people we’ve spoken to that are much closer to the TTB than we are all have told us to expect that process to take closer to 120 days. If that holds true the 120 day mark will be March 10th. Here’s to hoping that our approval comes in earlier than that. We’re in a part of the process that is more clearly defined as “hurry up and wait.”
Most people are pretty aware that starting a brewery isn’t easy, as well as one that requires you to purchase equipment that is anything but cheap. Even smaller brewhouses and fermenters can cost thousands of dollars on the used market. We’ve decided to purchase a 20 BBL brewhouse and 40 BBL fermenters new from Stromberg Tanks. I (Jeremy) had the chance to visit with Clint from Stromberg in August of 2010 and am really excited about some of the features that Stromberg has been integrating into their brewhouse and fermenter designs. Because of the TTB process it doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend a huge chunk of money on this equipment if in turn the Federal government doesn’t give us the approval to start a brewery in the first place. Makes sense, right? As soon as that approval comes Stromberg will be getting a call so we can move forward on that end because it does take about 14 to 16 weeks for the brewhouse to be built, another week to ship out from the West Coast to us, and another five to seven days to get everything in place and up and running.
Once the TTB decision comes in we can then apply to the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board for our Brewery permit. That process takes another 90 days, and even if we wanted to expedite that process we couldn’t because that application requires the Federal Brewery Notice approval even to apply. See a pattern here? Hurry up and wait, hurry up and wait.
In the meantime we’ve been busy working on pilots and fine tuning things with our recipes so that when everything is in place we’ll just ramp up to 20 BBLs (which isn’t as easy as it sounds) and get to making what we hope you think is quality, hand crafted beer.
Always students of the craft and always keeping ourselves busy, Rob will be heading out to Chicago in March to attend Siebel, and I will be taking the IBD’s Certificate of Brewing and Packaging exam in May. I probably should have done that right after I finished Siebel in 2008, but better late than never. I’ll also be studying my butt off so I can take the BJCP exam again later this year since it’ll be necessary for me to do so to move up a rank again. Beer, beer, beer, beer, beer.
As soon as we get word from the TTB we’ll be announcing some events that will serve as a chance to introduce ourselves to everyone in the Philadelphia area. Of course, there will be tons of free samples of any of our seven or eight pilots on hand, so please be sure to keep your ears peeled about those and come out, grab a beer, and meet us in person.
So, this update is long enough as is, and I’ve got to get back to helping Rob with this Weizenbock pilot. More updates coming soon and thanks for stopping by and showing you support. Means the world to us.