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Good Brewer Hunting

Many of life's problems about to be solved in this room.

Many of life’s problems about to be solved in this room.

My interview with Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting is live!

You can listen here, on iTunes, or however the hell else you listen to podcasts in your world.

If you dream of a world where I can live amongst hot models in Argentina, well, this is the interview for you!

 

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So Here We Are.

The first brew day. This is what opening a brewery does to people.

The first brew day. This is what opening a brewery does to people.

What an adventure. The first beer has been brewed and now the hard part begins. Let’s discuss.

First, as you’ve no doubt guessed, my ability and desire to blog has declined in direct correlation to how busy I’ve been. As much as I’d like to fill in all the details in the past year, I just don’t have time, which is a shame, because there is a LOT to share.

We brewed this past month, the beer, a pale ale I’ve been working on for a long time, is in the fermenter, it’s ready to be dry hopped, conditioned, and carbonated. The brew day was not without its challenges. I decided to brew 10 barrels (20 kegs), which is half of what my brewhouse can produce, and a fourth of what my fermenters can hold. Even though I knew this would create issues with wort production and fermentation control, I decided to go through with it in order to kick the tires of the system and figure out some of the basics of my process.

It was a great day, lots of help, lots of support, lots of friends texting and coming by to wish me good luck. We learned a lot, solved numerous problems, and the next brew day should go a bit more smoothly. It will take time to dial in my recipes for the brewery for things like mash efficiency, hop extraction efficiency, variations on water temperature through out the year, water chemistry tweaking, and on and on. But I feel I have a very good understanding of my brewing system and how to get water, wort, and beer from point A to point B. That’s a good start.

I can clean and sanitize all of my vessels very efficiently now, thanks to all the training I had at Metropolitan Brewing. So that’s a good thing, because I’ll be doing that a LOT. I have a good understanding of how to best handle and use the various cleaning and sanitizing chemicals that every brewery uses. Some are quite nasty and require good safety protocols. Again, Metropolitan guided my way on this back during my internship.

So I’m a couple of weeks away from introducing my first beer to the Chicago market and that’s where the real work begins. Brewing beer is just one part of this journey. Now I have to ship it, sell it, market it, maintain it, efficiently operate it, and grow it. I’m a bit nervous, but I’m up for the challenge.

The next step in this enterprise is a tap room. That is going to be a long process to navigate through more permits (including Chicago alcohol ones), construction, and god knows what else. I hope to have it up and running this year, but knowing what I know now, things in Chicago can take a very long time.

I want to thank everyone for their kind comments (the stupid ones were never approved, you should’ve seen some of them, jeez.) and words of encouragement.

This blog will live on as one part of the upcoming new Alarmist Brewing website. We’ll be transitioning to a proper business site with information on events, beers, and goings on of the brewery. It will look dramatically different, like even almost professional!

Stay tuned, but for the latest and greatest news for now, check out the Alarmist Brewing Facebook page.

Regards,

Gary Gulley,
Chief Alarmist

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Brewery Construction Porn!

I thought these concrete floor construction photos might tide everyone over until I have an actual real post again…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Forgive the Mess!

I’m updating the site to reflect the new name! Hang tight, we’ll get this done in the next day or two.

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What is Panic Alarmist Brewing ?

Whoa! Positioning solved! Suck it Kiser!

Whoa! Positioning solved! Suck it Kiser!

I very recently hired my friend Kim Leshinski of Hail to the Ale fame to create the Panic Alarmist Brewing brand. By “brand” I’m referring to more than just the logo, although that’s a big piece of it and that will be Kim’s primary focus during this iteration. The current logo was great as an identity to get out there, be seen, and help churn the waters for investors, banks, and future customers. It was always going to be a temporary logo and it has served its purpose well. My huge thanks goes out to Scott Olson who created it. Scott came up with the entire idea of the dynamite and the “Ka-boom” and those will both always be part of the Panic Alarmist identity forever.

Alas, it’s time to go far deeper into the identity of Panic Alarmist Brewing. In order to do that, I have to provide Kim with a feel of what Panic is, where it’s going to go, and how my personality will be a part of it. These and other intangibles will guide her as she creates the new Panic Alarmist Brewing brand. That brand will find its way to beer cans, beer delivery trucks, tap handles, cans, shirts, hats, my scrotal tattoo, etc.

So I have homework to do for Kim and I decided that the homework would manifest itself as this blog post. Forgive me while I try to tease the Panic Alarmist brand out of my head as I write this post. This could get interesting.

First, what does “brand” mean to me? Hmmmm. My corporate identity? Yes. The actual logo(s) and color palettes I’ll be using for everything? Sure. But brand is much bigger than that. According to this site, brand means “the sum of all available information about a product, service or company”. That’s probably vastly over simplified, but I’m not a branding/marketing wonk, so that works for me for the purposes of this post.

And then there’s something Kim and Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting like to talk about: “positioning”. According to this site, brand positioning “enables a brand image and identity to instantly have meaning for consumers and differentiate it from competitor brands”. I’m not sure that really captures the idea, but I suppose it’s somewhere in the ballpark. Kim and Michael would also say that there’s an emotional component of positioning as well. A connection that a person feels with a brand in a way that’s most likely quite different than with any other.

Apple would definitely be that for me. I have a very strong emotional connection to Apple going back many years, well before the iMac even. We could go into that for hours (and debate it with Android lovers), but to me there’s a very unique connection I feel with Apple that I have with no other brand of any kind. At the end of the day, it really comes down to the fact that I LOVE to use their products and I HATE using competitors products. There’s an aesthetic, an elegance, and a simplicity that I find incredibly compelling with the MacBook Pro, iPhone, iPad, Mac OS X, iOS, Apple TV, etc. And the way they all integrate together seals the deal for me.

So how does Panic Alarmist Brewing fit into this insane world of craft beer? Can Panic Alarmist carve out an identity as distinct and sought after as Apple, but in the craft beer world? There are so many brands, many very unique and distinct. How does Panic carve its slice in the craft brewing landscape? Perhaps I should start with Panic Alarmist Brewing’s purpose. If I were to distill down all of the things that I think Panic is or will be I think it would have to be this:

Panic Alarmist Brewing is about bringing joy to people. 

Probably not what you were thinking, eh? Me neither. I just thought of it myself. It’s not just about making great tasting beer, but that’s the most obvious way this “joy” would manifest (ok, it’s a “mission statement”, I just didn’t want to sound all corporate buzzword bingo-y). We’re also going to bring joy with humor and we’re going to convey that humor through what we print on T-shirts, what we say during brewing tours, what we testify to during libel hearings, etc. I value humor in a person more than just about anything else and that will be a core part of the Panic Alarmist Brewing DNA.

If I were to extend that “purpose statement”, perhaps I would say:

Panic Alarmist Brewing is about bringing joy to people by brewing delicious beer, fostering a hysterically funny and irreverent culture, and becoming an important part of the local/neighborhood/craft beer community.

Not bad. We can tweak that quite a bit, but it gets us in the ballpark. It is vitally important to note that although our culture will be irreverent (and antithetical to American corporate culture), no one will take beer flavor, quality, and consistency more seriously than Panic Alarmist Brewing. That will also be part of our DNA from day one. We will constantly strive to iterate, iterate, and iterate to improve our recipes, processes, quality, and consistency for all of our beers at all times. Doesn’t mean we can’t have some fucking fun while we do it though.

Now it seems maybe the challenge for Kim is going to be how to meld this idea of joy, humor, dedication to the craft, and some fucking dynamite into a cohesive brand.

Glad I’m not the one doing it.

Cheers,

G

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Guess what? That blog post title is a pun! Yup, when I’m not planning my brewery, I spend all my free time ignoring my family and just working on really, really clever puns. Here’s where the pun is explained:

So the big news right now is that I’ve hired Wrap Architecture (pun revealed!!!) to do all my design and drawings required for permits/construction.

Here's Wrap Architecture's first pass at creating a schematic drawing of the space. These folks are leaving no stone unturned!

Here’s Wrap Architecture’s first pass at creating a schematic drawing of the space. These folks are leaving no stone unturned!

Wrap are a husband and wife team of Cheryl Noel and Ravi Ricker. In the brewing world, they are probably best known as the architects behind both Revolution Brewing’s brew pub and production brewery.

They came highly recommended from numerous people in the business and after meeting with them, I could immediately see why. Very knowledgeable and just damn nice people.

So now, we wait while Wrap and their consultants do their thing. We’re talking general layout, mechanical, plumbing, and electrical plans and building code research (always fun in Chicago). This is going to take a few weeks.

After all the plans are completed, we’ll be submitting drawings to contractors for bids and submitting for building permits. The building permit process in Chicago is a complete nightmare, but we’ll get through it.

Since my last post I’ve also taken care of my general liability insurance for the business, got my surety bond for my TTB application (which is 99% ready to submit), and have firmed up what hops I can get from a variety of suppliers. I’ll FINALLY have my hop contracts in place before the year is over. Slim pickings, but we’ll deal with it. I’ve also done more detailed research on steam boilers and glycol chillers.

As usual, many wheels in motion. Lots of cogs in this machine, but we’re getting there!

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Q: Do You Have A Location Yet?

A: YEEEEEEEEESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!

Ladies and gentlemen, I present the home of Panic Alarmist Brewing: 4055 W. Peterson Ave., Chicago, IL

11,000+ square feet of Chicago industrial goodness. Here’s the kicker. Wanna know who had this built and then had their home here from the 1950’s up til the 1990’s? Go on, guess. Give up? The Siebel Institute of Technology. America’s oldest brewing school. I know right?!!!! Yup, this was Siebel’s home until they moved down by Goose Island on Clybourn in the 90’s. This is a piece of Chicago brewing history and Panic Alarmist fully intends to add to that history!

Here are some photos. Note the outdoor courtyard. Yeah, Panic’s courtyard. Oh lordy. So much going on. I’ll share more when I can. As always, check out the Panic Alarmist Brewing Facebook page for the latest scoop.

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Cheers!

G

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