Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Building a Brewery: August 15, 2017

The last two weeks have been HUGE for New Main. As we mentioned last time, we have been focusing our energy on our Special Use Permit (SUP) Application allowing for the sale of alcohol in our building. Basically, the Town had to clear us to be able to operate a taproom for on- and off-premise consumption. I'm proud to announce that we received unanimous approval from both the Planning & Zoning Commission as well as the Town Council of Pantego! 


We are very grateful for the support shown by our community and our fans throughout this process. I wanted to cover some of the topics we discussed at the meeting so that y'all don't get the impression that we just breezed through it all. SUP Applications take a great deal of time, effort, planning, and teamwork to get approved. As a Civil Engineer, I have prepared zoning cases for clients before on things like residential developments, gas stations, and assisted living facilities all across DFW. It's definitely a little more "real" when you do it for your own project.

The most important component of the SUP process is to discuss what the intended use will be and how it will impact the community if it were to be approved. The Pantego Town Council and Planning & Zoning Commission brought up a few important points that I think would be good to share with y'all. 

First of all, we believe good fences make good neighbors. The fence at the rear of the property (to the north) is in desperate need of replacement. We plan to replace the existing dilapidated 6' fence with a new 8' fence to improve the aesthetics of the backyard area, promote sound dampening, and show goodwill to our residential neighbors. 

Second, since we do share a property line with multiple Pantego residents, we submitted guidelines for a Noise Abatement Plan so as not to disturb our neighbors' lives with our business operations. Replacing the fence, adding vegetation in the backyard area, prohibiting music in the backyard area, and limiting our hours of operation will all hopefully express our concern with our neighbors' well-being and enjoyment of their properties.

Lastly, parking was an issue that was discussed at length in both meetings with the Town of Pantego. For those of you who have been to many of the other fine craft breweries in DFW, you know that parking is always a struggle because of the nature of industrial buildings that breweries tend to occupy. One of the reasons we selected our building is because it offers 25 spaces onsite, overflow street parking, and several excellent neighboring businesses who are excited to see a brewery come to Pantego. That said, we only signed a joint parking agreement with The Runner Shop, right across the street from us. 

There are many other fine Pantego businesses on our street, but we couldn't reach an agreement with all of them to share parking burden. With a little coordination and signage, we should be able to let our guests know where it is safe to park without the fear of getting towed. We will have signage on our property and temporary signs on neighboring properties to guide our patrons to agreed upon parking areas. We have also learned that quite a few of our fans are within walking distance to the brewery, which will cut down on the amount of vehicles looking for a space as well as helping the environment. Hey, two birds, one stone!

We anticipate weekly parking (Thursday & Friday) to be adequately served by our parking lot and overflow street parking. Saturdays may be a little more busy, so we can direct additional folks over to The Runner (where you can find some of the best athletic apparel and gear in DFW, I might add!). For events where we anticipate larger-than-normal crowds, we will communicate with our neighboring businesses to see if we may temporarily use their lot space. We can also partner with ride-sharing services like Uber and/or Lyft to cut y'all some deals. Either way, a parking diagram will accompany all of our social media event posts, a parking map will be posted on our website, and an additional map will be prominently displayed inside to remind folks where it is recommended they park. Nobody wants to get towed, and we certainly want to make it as easy as possible to visit New Main.

Now that we have approval from the Town to operate as a taproom and eventually a brewery, it's time to get down to business fixing the place up. We have a fence to replace, a cold room to install, a bar to build, a sign to re-face, furniture to acquire, and a deck to finish before we can dream of opening for business. Some of those things are better left to the professionals, but there are plenty of things that some well-motivated volunteers can get done! After the success of our first work party a few weeks ago, we'll be hosting a few more in the coming months as we get closer to opening our doors. 

As always, keep up with our blog updates and Facebook page for more information about where, when, and what we'll be working on. Oh, and now that all this Town stuff is finished for the moment, I think it's high time I got back behind the brew stand and make some more award-winning New Main beer!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Building a Brewery: August 1, 2017


It was shaping up to be a VERY hot weekend, so we decided to sacrifice a few sleep-in hours Saturday morning to get busy building this dang brewery while it was still relatively cool. We put out a small flyer on Facebook last week, and some brave and generous souls answered the call to arms (well...power tools).


I want to acknowledge and thank our amazing volunteers that came out this past weekend to help us with renovations on the building. Jeff Knussman, Jim Kunkle, Gerry Cooper, and Jim & Brenda Case, you guys are all rockstars! I don't know about y'all, but I'm still sore from ripping the old, rotten deck boards off the backyard deck and painting the interior room. Your hard work and support are the most important part of building this brewery, and we are forever grateful.

We were hoping to be able to reuse the deck boards for various crafts and improvements, but they are largely rotten and unusable. Sadly, we're going to have to find a trailer and haul the stripped lumber off to the dump. The good news is that all of the joists under the deck are in pretty good condition and won't need to be replaced. All we'll have to do is replace the decking with some treated lumber, and we've got a brand new-ish deck for the back yard!

While us poor saps were outside sweating to the hits of the 80's, Amanda and Brenda were inside painting what will become the conversation room. This is the interior of the smaller free-standing building inside our main space. When we get up and running, we envision this space will provide a quieter, more intimate setting to toss back a pint and catch up with friends and family. It's amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do to a room.

Amanda and I must be gluttons for punishment, because we returned Sunday afternoon for a little more painting in the building. Now that the interior of the small building was looking good, we decided to get rid of as much orange as possible on the exterior. As many of you know, our name comes from a family story wherein two brothers got into hijinks at Texas A&M University. We decided to pay them further tribute by painting over the orange with a nice fresh coat of maroon. WHOOP! 

The next big renovation items looming on the horizon include assembling the cold room we purchased a few weeks ago, building the bar, furnishing the taproom area, resurfacing the deck out back, building a sign out front, and probably a million other things we haven't thought up yet. We'll organize another work party soon so y'all can come in and help us get this show on the road as well as getting a sneak peek of the taproom before we get open. 


Many of y'all are asking, "When will you be open?" The only answer I can give you with 100% accuracy is "Not soon enough!" However, we do have some milestones coming up that you can help us with to make our opening come sooner! We posted a few weeks ago about submitting our paperwork for our Specific Use Permit with the Town of Pantego, and we are pleased to announce that the Planning and Zoning Commission will be hearing our case at 7pm, Monday, August 7th at the Town Council Chambers on Bowen Rd. 

We would greatly appreciate it if any of our Pantego-resident fans could come and show us some support as we describe our goals and visions for New Main Brewing. If everything goes well with the P&Z meeting, our case will go before the Town Council the following Monday evening, August 14th, also at 7pm for final review (and hopefully approval). Both of these meetings are very important in terms of eventually getting open and becoming your neighborhood gathering place. We hope to see y'all there! Cheers!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Building a Brewery - July 18, 2017

Rather than try to keep up with how many weeks we've been at this, I thought I'd just slap the date on the title and get on with our progress reports. Y'all get it. You're smart. It takes a while to build a brewery. Anyways, we've been busy bees lately, and we have some cool news to share!


But first, a tale from the depths of Craigslist... 

We at the brewery find ourselves in the midst of finding cheap deals on equipment and materials to furnish our taproom build out. Daily, Amanda and I sift through postings and pictures for things like sinks, pallets, furniture, and lately small pickup trucks. 

A few years ago, Amanda and I lost some Texan points by getting rid of our two pickups in favor of more fuel efficient vehicles to make our hour-long commutes hurt a little less. Alas, though we have saved some cash in the long run with better gas mileage, we are at the mercy of our friends who own trucks when it comes to hauling large items. We finally decided enough was enough and began looking for small body pickups to help us search for taproom loot in DFW.

We went through countless posts and contacted about 5-10 sellers per day, all last week. We scheduled times to come look at the trucks and test drive them any spare moment we had. And you know what we found out? People LIE on the internet! I know right?! Seriously, if I have to read one more description of "a pretty good little truck," I'm going to lose my pretty good little mind.

Things like claiming it has 120,000 miles on the odometer, only to drive out to the middle of East Texas to discover it has 190,000 miles. Oh, and the ceiling is sagging so much that there are two perfect oil slicks where it has touched the driver's and passenger's heads for who knows how long. And also every glass surface is cracked or tarnished. And also rust. And a check engine light, even though the place selling the truck IS ATTACHED TO A MECHANIC'S GARAGE. And that wasn't even the cheapest one we looked at!

To be fair, that was just one of the 10 vehicles we test drove, but it was pretty damn disgraceful compared to the general sunshine pumping going on in the CL post. By and large, the biggest transgression from most sellers on Craigslist was taking photos of their trucks in such a way as to hide windshield cracks, claiming the interior was "clean" when there was literally an apple and candy wrappers strewn about, and for some reason, a half-empty (half-full, whatever) bottle of water in each of the beds of these trucks. We began to think it was all a big prank, and Ashton Kutcher was around the corner waiting to tell us we got Punk'd, bro.

We finally found a great deal from a guy in Garland where the interior hadn't been straight-up destroyed, the miles were reported accurately, and the vehicle was in overall pretty good shape. Long story longer, we bought the truck and drove it back to Pantego for use in official brewery building business. Folks, say hello to New Main Brewing's newest team member...

Bob Barley, the New Main Brewery Truck

Aside from our North-Texas-trotting escapades, we managed to accomplish a few other major milestones. We filed for and received our Sales and Use Tax permit (hold the thunderous applause until the end, please). We also busted our humps to gather all relevant information to submit our Special Use Permit to the Town of Pantego in order to open as a taproom. This one was actually a big deal, folks, and it wasn't just the New Main crew that worked hard to make it happen. 

I want to give a HUGE shout out to Larissa at The Runner Shop in Pantego for helping us secure our joint parking agreement, one of the most important facets of our SUP application. Thanks to her extremely prompt responses and kindness, we will be one of very few breweries in DFW with adequate parking that doesn't make you walk several miles to get to the air conditioning! The Runner has not only some of our favorite running and athletic gear, but also a stable of amazing people ready to help you get where you want to go. Make sure you show them some love, because there's a good chance we would've missed a narrow window to get open this year without them!

More updates on the way, and details for our first work party should come out this week. Spoiler alert, we're resurfacing our deck in the beer garden area. We'll post later this week on our Facebook page with details. Until then, stay cool. Cheers!



Friday, July 7, 2017

Happy Independence Day!

We're starting to get down to business fixing up the building. We have a lot of irons in the fire at the moment with TABC licensing, Indiegogo order fulfillment, our SUP submittal for the Town of Pantego, business plan re-re-re-re-re-re-visions, and of course starting to acquire some equipment and materials to turn our space into New Main Brewing Company.


First things first, you all are being incredibly patient with us on the Indiegogo order fulfillment, and we sincerely appreciate it. We apologize that it's taking so long to get these items out to all of you, but we are working our hardest to get the items made, printed, and ready for shipping. We are waiting on one more vendor to get our glasses, tin tackers, and stickers to us before we can start shipping everything out. 


We are incredibly happy with the items we've ordered so far, so we want to give a huge shout out to Nice Dudes Servicing Craft in Denton and Cornerstone Impressions in Fort Worth. Both of these businesses gave us prompt service, outstanding product quality, and you can bet we'll be using them again. We think you should too!

Amanda has been working hard to get our licensing process underway, and we're proud to announce that our 60-day notice has been put up at our location! We are also starting our paperwork for our brewpub licenses, both with the State and the Feds because we know it takes a long time. By the time we're ready to brew our first batch of our own beer (after we start up serving our favorites from our friends in the DFW craft scene), hopefully we should have all the licensing and paperwork in place.

We're also submitting our plans and applications to the Town of Pantego, who have been a great bunch of folks to work with so far. We've met with the Town Manager and Development Director as well as the Assistant Fire Chief a few times so that they know who we are and what we want to bring to Pantego. Even though our plan shifted from the first time we met, they have been very helpful in letting us know the process to get our plans before the Planning and Zoning commission as well as the Town Council. We will keep all of you updated on our progress at Town Hall, including ways for you to help make your voice heard when it comes time to show your support of New Main.


This week, we gathered our team to help us secure some equipment that we need. We have been scouring used equipment sites and Craigslist to find some cost-effective cold rooms to house the beverages we plan to serve. We located an excellent prospect in Burleson, and after verifying that the cooler was in good working order, we had ourselves a deal. 

Mega-huge shouts out to Rohde and Jason for stepping up to help us dismantle, pack, and unload the cooler panels and parts at the brewery. I also want to thank William Enox of Crossroads Station Storage for selling us the cold room, helping us disconnect and load the pieces, and of course renting us the truck we needed to haul it all. If y'all need storage or U-Haul trucks in the Crossroads/Burleson area, William is your guy. Next step is to call in some friends who speak fluent HVAC to help us puzzle-piece everything back together into a working cold room.


The next items we will need to get working on will be some painting and trim work inside the building as well as some TLC on the outside of the facility. We're talking fence, deck, signage, doors, and whatever else pops up on the way to getting open. We also need to get back to brewing so we can have some New Main beer to share with our volunteers. Once we have a batch or two ready to drink, we'll set up a Saturday or two for y'all to help us swing some hammers. In the mean time, we're also working with a contractor to install a fire suppression system inside the building. These are busy times indeed. Cheers!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

1 Year of Building a Brewery

May 24th was the anniversary of our announcement that New Main Brewing was going pro. We've learned a lot about starting a brewery in this last year, but we've also learned that it takes a whole lot more than passion and good beer to get started. Looking back on a year's worth of posts, our goal is the same but our path has changed nearly constantly. We are still committed to this dream, and we are still doing everything in our power to make New Main Brewing Company a reality.


That said, we've hit a few rather sizable bumps on our road to opening. We are very blessed to have received such a warm welcome at each of our tasting events over the last year. The friendships we've forged and fans we've met mean the world to us. We fell short of our crowdfunding goal, but we were able to reach more craft beer fans than ever before thanks to the tireless efforts of our friends and teammates. For those of you who contributed to our Indiegogo campaign, thank you for your contributions and your patience. Ordering and assembling the perk packages to ship out is taking us a little longer than we hoped, but we are working on getting everything shipped by the end of the month.

We spent more than a little time trying to find investors who were interested in our plan as well as seeking funding through various lenders and banks. To pull the curtain back a little bit, any time I said we had stuff going on "behind the scenes," that was pretty much code for trying to find substantial funding for our business plan (which has changed several times now). After several months of speaking with lenders and financial institutions, we kinda get the sense that they don't want to lend you any money unless you don't need it. And despite 30 years of evidence that craft beer isn't a fad (seriously, thirty years of craft beer scraping and clawing its way to more than a quarter of all American beer produced), funding a brewery still seems risky to people outside the industry.

We've learned to be flexible with our means, but rigid in our goals. We've learned how to tell when someone is stalling for time and when someone is genuinely interested. We've also learned that not everyone is as passionate about craft beer as we are. We've learned that no one cares as much about our dream as we do, and that there's really nothing personal about that. We've learned that everyone draws the line between business and personal life very differently.

We've learned that there is no "one way" to open a brewery, and everyone's experience is very different. There are many books that brewers have written about the origin of their brewery, with many similarities, but there is no sure-fire way to make something out of nothing. You kind of have to feel it out for yourself and not be afraid to make some changes to the image in your mind to make it come to fruition. We have been very fortunate to have so many amazing and genuine people giving us advice from their own experience opening breweries in DFW, and the new friendships we've forged throughout this process reassure us that we want to be a part of this community.

The dream of New Main Brewing is to bring interesting and tasty beer to our community in a comfortable, inviting place. We are still very much committed to this dream, but we're going to be building it from a slightly different angle now. 

Since brewing equipment is hella expensive, we will be opening our doors as an events center and guest taproom until we can save up enough to commercially produce our own beer. I know that's not what most of you were hoping for (hell, we were hoping to make our own beer right out the gate, too), but cultivating the local craft community is very important to us. It is our hope that we can show you our commitment to Texas craft beer by providing y'all the atmosphere that we have come to know and love in the past 5 years of brewing and drinking across this state. In addition to a curated list of local craft beer, we will be offering non-alcoholic options as well like craft sodas, kombucha, and cold brew coffee.

This is most definitely a longer road than we thought we were setting out on, but who gives a damn when the journey is infinitely more interesting than the destination? We are literally going back to the drawing board to determine our next steps, but we are going to start taking action to make our space an interesting and fun place to visit and/or party.

In order to get our Certificate of Occupancy, we have a few major renovation items to get done. First, we must install a fire sprinkler system, then remodel the bathrooms that were formerly gym locker rooms, then we're going to get busy painting the inside spaces, and finally we're going to build a bad ass bar across which some of the finest liquids in Texas will be served (whether or not it's ours). The support and love that all of you have shown us throughout this process is overwhelming, and we are truly grateful for it. As we get our plan of attack laid out, I'll announce when our work weekends will start up so that you all can volunteer. (By the way, we've never stopped brewing our own beer, so there will be liquid reward at the end of each volunteer activity!)

It's been a long year, but our future is still bright. We have several months of hard work ahead of us before we can open our doors. With your continued support, the strength of our team, and the vision to build the place we want to see in the craft beer community, we will all discover the roles we play in building our New Main Brewery. Cheers!

Friday, May 12, 2017

Building a Brewery: Weeks 47-50

Yes, things have been quiet around here lately. Yes, it's been more than a couple of weeks since our last post. Yes, there's not a whole lot of new info on this week's post. No, it doesn't mean we don't have a lot of things happening behind the scenes. But a lot of that stuff doesn't make for exciting reading unless you just love hearing about emails and numbers.


What is interesting, and IS important, and DIRECTLY AFFECTS THE TEXAS BREWING INDUSTRY is something you've probably seen us post about a lot lately on our Facebook page. There is a bill that was introduced a few weeks ago to the Texas House of Representatives that has a direct negative effect on craft brewers and their rights. It's referred to as HB 3287 and Senate companion SB 2083.

There are a few limitations the bill puts on larger brewers, which we don't technically have to worry about as a startup brewery, but if I'm not planning the future of this company, then I'm doing everyone a major disservice. The really shitty thing this bill does propose, however, is what is referred to as a "dock bump tax." I don't usually like to copy and paste content on this blog, but I think you should hear about this from those more seasoned and eloquent than I am to explain why this is a bad, unfair, and damaging thing to the Texas Craft Brewing industry. Here's Josh Hare, founder of Hops and Grain Brewing in Austin:

" If the total production were to increase above 225,000 bbls this bill would still allow for the 5,000 bbl sold on-site but the beer would have to be sold to a wholesaler and then purchased back at retail price before it could be sold on-site.  But the beer would never actually leave the brewery.  A brewer would have to invoice their distributor at the normal wholesale cost and then the wholesaler would send back an invoice at retail cost before the brewer could sell it.  And because of the wonders of the Alcoholic Beverage Code, the brewer would have to pay the invoice immediately and the wholesaler would be allowed credit terms on their invoice."


You read that correctly, this bill allows wholesalers to essentially receive a cut of taproom sales simply because that beer was not given to wholesalers in the first place. I'm sorry, but taking money for something you didn't do to earn it is called stealing in my book. And they say millenials are entitled...


Unfortunately, and despite HEAVY resistance by craft brewers and their fans alike, the bill was approved by the House and now travels to the Texas Senate for approval. If you want to do your part for craft beer, please consider calling your senator and urge him or her to vote NO on Senate Bill 2083. You can find out who represents you and their contact information HERE. You can also read all of Josh Hare's entire post regarding the bill to fully understand why this has brewers angry and share the link on social media so more craft beer fans can voice their outrage.

In the meantime, things will begin to pick up for renovation of our space. We will hopefully be re-surfacing our deck in the backyard fairly soon, for which we will contact a handful of folks that have reached out to us as volunteers. We may have a freshly brewed batch of Pantego Porter that might need drinking at the end of a hard day of work, just sayin'. Until then, y'all stay tuned. Big stuff coming!

Friday, April 21, 2017

Building a Brewery: Weeks 45-46

I want to start off this post with one last word of gratitude for everyone that helped us with our Indiegogo campaign. While we didn't reach our monetary goal, we were able to reach more craft beer fans and have a few excellent parties with each other. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and actually start to build this thing.


For those of you who have been to our building, you know that the floors are just a mess. Glue, tape, paint, weird stuff... yeah. We decided we would see if rehabilitating the floor was within our capabilities. The resounding conclusion was "LOL nope." We tried chemical adhesive remover, floor maintainer with a carbide scraper attachment, we even tried literally scraping the glue from the floor with a floor stripper, and alas the only thing that was removed was our interest in continuing the futile battle. You win some, you lose some, I guess.

In an effort to keep the weekend from being a total loss, we decided to try a couple different shades of paint for the taproom building. Seeing as how the tremendous amount of orange in the building was slowly but surely causing me to lose my grip on reality, we decided a hefty application of Aggie maroon would be just right. We bought a couple of cans of paint and rolled it right on while listening to a couple spooky podcasts. Pro-tip: Don't listen to spooky podcasts when you're in a large empty building on a windy night with lots of mirrors and not all the lights on.


We have been very fortunate to have lots of you fine folks ask if you can help us with some of the renovations, and I believe we will have our first Work for Beer day in May. The goal will be to re-surface the deck as well as some general TLC for the backyard area. I will set up an event on Facebook and make sure to email y'all a few weeks in advance so we know how many hands we'll have and how many glasses to fill at the end of the day.

I also want to remind y'all that throughout the brewery buildout, we will make our large and unique space available for event rental. Now we're not a fancy ballroom, we don't have crown molding, and sadly, no we can't make chicken cordon bleu for y'all. But what we do have is a large, one-of-a-kind space that would be great for parties, celebrations, club meetings, flea markets, etc. We want our community to become a part of our brewery, and vice versa. If you or someone you know is interested in having an event in our space, please email me at david@newmainbrewing.com.

Cheers!