The craft beer movement in the US today is an impressive, unstoppable force, with the number of existing licensed breweries (as of June 2013) almost surpassing the 2500 mark! In North Carolina alone, we've had one or two new breweries pop open every month for the past year or two, and with the number in planning and on the horizon, that doesn't seem to look like it'll stop any time soon. Pure awesomeness.
So what's going to make our little brewery in the middle of rural North Carolina different? We're planning what we hope is a new kind of craft brewery, a symbiotic endeavor within our community, effectively harnessing influence from both the Slow Food movement and the sustainable Craft Beer movement and smish-smooshing it all up into a single, sustainable, bear hug of an awesome effort. Here's how we intend to do it, and how you can play a key role in our success.
For the past three years, my wife Dawnya and I have been putting together plans to open Haw River Farmhouse Ales in our lovely little hometown of Saxapahaw, North Carolina. Once we get our doors open in a few months, we plan to concentrate on making Belgian- and French-style ales using as many local ingredients as possible, alongside a strong sour barrel program and a number of really fun side-project series and collaborations with other North Carolina breweries. One of the main goals of our opening Haw River Farmhouse Ales is to have fun together and make great beer that celebrates North Carolina culture, so that's what we plan to do.
During the past year, as the plan has started to take shape, we've established strong relationships with local retail shops, bars, restaurants and pubs. We've poured samples for hundreds of thirsty people at dozens of events across the state. We've secured the future location for the brewery in Saxapahaw, a 150-year-old former cotton mill that's got gobs of character and room to grow. We've got a shiny new 10 barrel brewhouse being constructed as I type this (through the magic of the interwebs, of course) from one of the world's most highly regarded brewery builders, Premier Stainless Systems out on the west coast.
We've been working our butts off, 25-and-a-half hours a day, and we're getting really, really close to getting our last round of licenses & permits approved and opening our doors in just a few short months.
But we'd like to push our concept a bit further, and we want your help to make it happen.
You see, after a little research, we estimate the cost difference between opening a brewery and opening a really sustainable, super efficient, insanely creative, environmentally responsible brewery is pretty slim. So we thought we could use your help to get us from "hey now" to "HOT DAMN!" and get a few things pulled into our process that would immeasurably improve what we have planned, for the betterment of just about every aspect of the project.
So here's what we have planned with the financial assistance and generous help we'd like you to work with us to raise, so we can create a new kind of craft brewery:
• The Farmhand Exchange Program. Our idea is that we coordinate a structured network of local farmers, growers, gardeners and artisans, all within 100 miles of our brewery, from which we can source local, organic ingredients and hand-made materials by real people that we can actually shake hands with. That's true sustainability, and the backbone of what we hope to accomplish with Haw River Farmhouse Ales. Estimated cost of setup and administration to manage the network properly for the first year is probably about $600.
• A Solar Array on our Roof. Because we're installing an electric boiler, we'd like to try to limit its run-time on brewdays by preheating our brewing water by (cue awesome echo effect) harnessing the power of our sun and shoveling gobs of pure solar energy directly into our brewery tanks (it sorta works like that—we're brewery people, not science nerds). Our hope is to start small and add cells as needed, but the upfront cost of getting the array to tie into our system and be able to handle the demand we have is fairly significant. Setup and implementation equals around $16,000.
• Small Scale CO2 Recovery System. So we could either flood the atmosphere with all the CO2 our yeast cells fart out (seriously, that's kinda what happens), or, with your help, we could potentially recapture that wasted gas and reduce the cost of carbonating our kegs and reuse the waste from the brewing process! We're still working on the logistics of this one, but there's a small company in Lakewood, Colorado that we're talking to that's invented a small-scale system that looks promising—sounds like an awesome addition to our brewery. The cost of the system that fits best with our size costs around $12,000 to install and get running.
• Energy Efficient Light Bulbs. It's a simple measure to swap out regular bulbs for more expensive, more efficient compact fluorescents and high output T5 fluorescent tubes. The difference in materials cost equals about $300.
• Bicycle-Powered Grain Mill. Our grain mill will be just a bit too large to completely power using a bicycle, but that doesn't mean we can't cut down on some of the power it takes to crush our grain on brewday. If we can pull it off, our guests will be invited to hop on the ol' "human-powered grain mill" during the week, and we'll use that energy on brewday to power the first step in our process! And how about this idea: for every five minutes you spend pedaling, you'll earn a point towards a growler fill or a discount on merchandise, all while charging a battery we'll use to power the mill when we need it! The kit we'll need to get this set up costs about $800, with the rest of the setup being built by us.
• Veggie-Powered Delivery Truck. As part of our Farmhand Exchange Program, we're hoping to contract with a few of our customers to collect waste oil from their kitchens when we deliver kegs in the used Dodge Sprinter we have lined up—we figure we're headed there anyway, so why not grab some "gas" while we're at it? The conversion kit for getting the Sprinter to run on vegetable oil costs about $2500, and the rest of the process will just be us begging our customers for dirty grease.
It's okay. This is why we'd come here too. Don't be embarrassed—they're all really cool.
** NOTE: With the holidays coming up, we know some of you may want to give the beer lover in your life a whole bunch of this awesome swag, and we appreciate the heck out of your generosity (and so will your buddy, of course). Note that delivery for the actual rewards won't take place until next spring, though. BUT, since we love ya lots, IF YOU'D LIKE TO GIVE YOUR REWARD AS A HOLIDAY GIFT to a friend or family member, just let us know and we'll send you a special custom-designed card & envelope that we've put together just for you, so you can tuck a little something under the tree (or your religious symbol of choice) for that special someone in your beer life. Merry FestivThanksMasHanukKwanza, everyone!**
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To start, every donor gets his or her name shown off to the rest of the beer-lovin' world in a super-sweet full page layout we'll place in All About Beer magazine! Forget just sticking your name on our website—we've got a full page set aside next spring in an issue of one of the country's most prestigious beer publications, and every single donor who helps us reach our goal will be thanked in grand fashion by including your name in our Thank You list! Plus, you get a free copy of the issue, and we're going to reproduce the layout as a big ol' poster to hang in our tasting room, so everyone will always know how great a person you are!
Wildflower Seed Coasters. A set of 4 high-quality, letterpress cardstock coasters, embedded with wildflower seeds (so you can quite literally soak the coaster in water, plant it in your yard, and enjoy beautiful wildflowers in the spring!), custom designed and printed using soy-based inks on heavy recycled handmade paperboard. These beautiful coasters make great gifts for the eco-conscious beer lover in your life!
Matching Set of Teku Beer Glasses. We've created a set of custom-designed matching high-quality 32cL Teku Glasses, adorned with unique Haw River Farmhouse Ales artwork only available to our Kickstarter backers! If you have yet to add this unique, very awesome glass style to your collection, don't miss out on this opportunity!
Private Tour for Two. We'll schedule having you and a friend come to Saxapahaw for a private tour of our facilities by owners Dawnya & Ben of our brewing facilities once we get our doors open, walk you through the brewery, talk about how we make our beer and what makes Haw River so nifty, and then we'll sit down in our tasting room and try a few locally made meats & cheeses as well.
Tulip Glass T-shirt. Simple, elegant, and comfortable as can be, this custom-designed Tulip Glass tee is sourced from Alternative Apparel's eco-line of clothing. Just one chance to ever find this design, since it'll just be available to Kickstarter backers, so snag one now! And just to make it a bit more enticing, you can choose whether you'd like a men's or women's cut—we'll have both available!
Haw River Homebrew Kit. Your choice from either our Rusted Plow Farmhouse Saison or St. Benedict's Breakfast Dubbel recipes. Working with our buddies at Bull City Homebrew in Durham, NC (one of the best homebrew shops around), we'll put together a kit good for a single 5-gallon batch, either as all-grain or partial mash (you choose), along with a suggested commercial yeast, so it can be a perfect clone! Kits include crushed base & specialty grain (milled or not) and/or malt extract, hop pellets, clarifying agent, priming sugar and instructions (yeast won't ship well, so we'll let you know which yeast to source and where you can find it). This one makes a great gift for the homebrewer in your life (seriously, do they really need another hydrometer? Okay, yeah, they probably break them all the time like we do...)
Beer Stick Bottle Opener. This is no ordinary bottle opener, folks—this is a Beer Stick. And it's been adorned with a special design just for our Kickstarter donors, so this is your only chance to get your hands on one. Guaranteed to open bottles and perform other block-of-wood-related activities.
Cock's Crow Shirt & Tasting Glass Set. Those of you that follow us on Facebook and Twitter may have already heard just how unique and rewarding it is to own this wonderful shirt & glassware set. We'll offer additional Cock's Crow sets to Kickstarter donors at a slightly higher price when this first batch of 25 sell out, so if you want to have the chance to proudly wear the Cock's Crow shirt, grab yours now—early bird gets the good stuff! We'll let you know more the second our Kickstarter campaign ends, but in the meantime, let us know what questions you have—this one should be a lot of fun!
Earthie Hooded Sweatshirt. By helping us achieve our Kickstarter goal, you're also helping our planet—why not show off in style a little? Printed on Alternative Apparel's EcoFleece line of products, this baby is as awesome as it is comfortable.
Hand-signed Limited Edition Print Set. Four 8x10 museum-grade giclée prints showcasing our beloved farmer and his faithful hound dog throughout the four seasons, reproduced onto acid-free, 100% cotton rag Somerset Velvet stock. The hand-painted artwork is by local artist Nathan Golub, who has agreed to sign & number each of the limited 50 sets! We're not saying these are going to be collector's items, but they're only going to be offered here through our Kickstarter campaign, and only 50 of them for a limited time—you do the math!
Handmade Ceramic Growler. Go ahead and recycle all those other glass growlers you've been holding onto for years and have been piling up in your garage. This handmade 64oz ceramic growler from Portland Growler Company will become your favorite in no time, and probably the only one you'll ever need.
Custom Barrel Head Wall Hanger. Emblazoned with original artwork by master illustrator Nathan Golub, this 24" oak barrel head is signed & numbered by the artist. Make all your snooty artsy friends jealous of true craftsmanship and genuine badassery.
You Decorate Our Cask. Once we open our doors, we plan to have something very special and very limited in a cask in our onsite tasting room on a regular basis. For this reward, we'll invite you to name one of our stainless steel casks (called a "firkin") and paint, decorate or personalize it however you'd like! (Or, if you're not confident in your art skills, you can work with our artist to get what you'd like on your cask—we'll probably invite all the recipients of this reward out for the day, and have all the art supplies here available to you, since it'll need to be fancy, permanent paint for the stainless steel surface). Then any day we tap your decorated firkin, you'll get VIP status if you come out to visit us!
"It's All Business" Dinner. You and your business partner (or your buddy, or your mom...) will join Dawnya & Ben for a "business dinner" one evening, where the four of us will sit at one of our favorite local craft beer destinations and discuss whatever you'd like. Starting your own brewery? Need help revising your keg sales projections? Want to know the best place to source your hops? Here's your chance to hear the story behind Haw River and take all the notes you'd like! And don't forget—you also get a printed copy of our original business plan!
Pilot Batch Collaboration Experience. You and a friend spend the day with us in the brewery, fine tuning that day's recipe (here's where we have fun!) and helping us brew a production batch on our 2BBL pilot system. And as an added bonus, you both leave with two Haw River brewers' work shirts with your name embroidered on the front pocket! Then, a few weeks later when everything is ready, you're invited back to be our VIP in our tasting room!
Saxapahaw Beer Dinner. You and nine guests are invited to attend your very own exclusive 5-course Dinner, hosted right here in beautiful Saxapahaw, and featuring both a line-up from Haw River Farmhouse Ales (including one or two special creations no one else may be able to get their hands on) and a true farm-to-fork menu prepared by one of our favorite local chefs.
The Big Charity Brew. Here's the deal: You and two special guests will spend the entire day with the Haw River crew in our brewhouse, where you'll work closely with us on both a beer recipe of your choosing and its eventual name and packaging (subject to approval by the feds... they're sticklers about certain things). We'll then brew a ten-barrel batch of YOUR beer on our system, and bring that beer to market within our local retail network, so you can brag to all your friends and show your high school teachers you actually did amount to somethin'! How's that for livin' the good life?
Risks and challenges
As we move forward, we'll adapt as needed and create & install systems to address the challenges that arise along the way (heck, it's what we've been doing for the past three years—no reason to stop now!). Once our project has been funded through Kickstarter, some of the sustainability efforts we've listed above will almost probably evolve, as we discover new ways to brew smarter and new technologies arise that are more efficient or cost-effective. True sustainability isn't about pedaling a funny-looking bike or sorting out your recyclables—it's a way of thinking and living each of our lives that can't be printed on a t-shirt or a canvas tote.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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