Sycamore Brewing: Before and After

Transforming an old auto garage into a taproom and production brewery is no small feat.  Looking back at the photographs we’ve taken along the way, I’m blown away by both the progress and scope of the project.  I hope you’ll join us at the brewery this November 1st to celebrate the culmination of a huge amount of hard work! 

Over the course of just under a year, we took this old 1950's building back to four walls and a roof.  In the production area, we even removed the sturdy concrete floor in order to install our trench drains and achieve adequate drainage.

One year later. From auto garage to Sycamore Brewing's taproom.  On nice days, that glass door is going up!

With most interior walls removed, we were left with a giant, empty concrete-block box.  It was now time to begin transforming this ugly, empty box into an inviting space and bustling production brewery.  

Justin and I have both worn many hats throughout this project and will continue to do anything necessary in order to create and sustain a successful brewery.  Among other things, Justin has been responsible for all of the brewery operations.  He sourced the equipment, installed the equipment and has now brewed several batches of beer on our 15 Barrel brewhouse. 

Justin has been onsite every day and has built the brewery from the ground up.  I know he feels a huge sense of pride knowing that he touched every screw, every tri-clamp, every foot of glycol piping in the brewery.  I am happy to report that our first five batches of beer brewed on the brewhouse are fermenting well and tasting great!

While Justin’s focus has been the production side of the business, I have focused on the front of house as well as the overall look and feel of the brewery.  It was important to me that we create a warm welcoming space where people would feel at home enjoying a couple of beers.  I’m happy with the results and hope to continually improve the space and the property in the months and years to come.  

Thanks!  We hope to see you on November 1st!

Cheers,

Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more on our Grand Opening and to accept your invitation:

https://www.facebook.com/events/962732510408636/

July Recap

When you begin building a brewery, the sheer number of stars that must align is mind-blowing. Between coordinating the construction, the equipment, the permitting, and the un-ending smaller details, the scope of the project is huge! For this very reason, we have been guarded about setting a specific date for our grand opening. So many times, we have seen a brewery do just this only to have to postpone the big event. All it takes is one hiccup and the schedule can be easily derailed. However, we have finally crested the steepest part of the brewery's build, and we think, just maybe, the end is in sight.

If we had to call it right now, and please understand that we still have a great number of uncertainties, we think our doors will finally open later this September.

Brewhouse arrival day was such a huge milestone for us.

At this point, our equipment is nearly all on site; process piping has begun; and with any luck, we should be firing it all up and brewing next month. (After what is quickly becoming nearly three years of preparing, just typing that feels surreal!)

The brewery's outdoor areas have really come together! Streetscape improvements are almost completed, with new trees and sidewalks both in front of the brewery and along the light rail trail. The building has a fresh, new coat of barn-red paint, and in large areas where there was once asphalt, we have green-spaces for enjoying a fresh beer on those perfect Carolina afternoons. The patio will also be wrapped up soon, complete with pea-gravel, plantings and a shaded pergola. On the best days, a large retractable glass door will open to the taproom and allow a natural breeze and the flow traffic to move back and forth freely.

On the inside of the taproom, the space has transformed! Every day, the aesthetic of a dark, old auto garage has steadily disappeared, and in its place, we have created a space with lots of natural light, a prominent bar, and a very natural finish. A highlight is the large amount of North Carolina lumber that we bought from a Pittsboro family who had two of their trees locally milled and carefully stored over seven years ago. You can even see the lines on the boards from where they rested on their stacking spacers for so many seasons.

Before...

Before...

...and nearly there.  

...and nearly there.  

Please keep your fingers crossed for our timeline. Declaring an opening date, even loosely, is a risky proposition, and we do not want to disappoint. Every day we are fighting to open our doors as soon as possible, and if all goes as planned, we're nearly there!   

Things are moving fast and really coming together!

All systems are go with Sycamore at the moment. Construction is racing ahead, equipment is on the cusp of arrival, and new batches are steadily being brewed and refined.

The bar is framed up!

We'll replace all of our old steel doors with glass.

On the construction front, so much has happened in such a short amount of time. We have removed the old floors and re-poured them, complete with NC-made trench drains. Our cold storage box is nearly complete, and even though I knew a 16' tall box would be huge, there is nothing quite like seeing it in person! Walls have gone up, and the skeleton of the bar has been built. Our exterior bay door openings are being framed to allow for new glass walls and retractable glass doors. These will not only lead to the patio but also allow visibility into the production area from both sides of our building. Countless hours of tweaking plans and conceptualizing the layout has come to life! It is quite surreal.

Outside of our brewery, both the front and rear of the property have slowly begun to take shape. Along the light rail trail, as more and more asphalt is removed, the path from the trail to our building is coming together, as is our natural area for outdoor yoga and beers in the sun. In the front, we have poured a new sidewalk and, in the next few days, we will begin establishing our planting beds for trees. No new paint has gone up outside, but we aren't too far away from a fresh coat – a dramatic change that we're really looking forward to.

Prepping the Hawkins Street side of our property for sidewalk and trees.

We're removing asphalt at the rear of our property to allow access from the rail trail and for a green-space.

Here comes the equipment! Our first tank purchased was Triple C Brewing's old cold liquor tank, and I'd like to place this one on our production floor first, if for no other reason that symbolism. Then late next week, our first fermenters will ship, and shortly behind them, our brewhouse will arrive. Meanwhile, our boiler, chiller, and grain handling will all be delivered and the fun of assembling our process piping begins. We will finally begin to build the heart of the brewery, and I cannot wait!

Our brewhouse is coming together!

Made locally by North Carolinians.

As far as recipes go, we never really stop brewing. The last few batches have been a mix of sessionable Belgians and saisons, some gratuitously hoppy, experimental-hopped IPAs and our home-smoked ESB. The anticipation of sharing these beers really is our driving force. When we decided to start a brewery, the impetus was to make something that people would really enjoy, and thankfully, Sycamore is on the brink of pouring! In the meantime, we're really striving to make the best beers we can. Stay thirsty!