Brewhouse BlogIndependent. Brewer Owned. Brewing What We Like to Drink.

Location, Location, Location?

Saturday January 2, 2016

To briefly recap:
Mid-2014 saw our agreement with a landlord in Northport fall apart, by year’s end we found a suitable space in Smithtown. Unfortunately, after beginning demo work on the interior during last winter’s heavy snows, the septic system at the Smithtown location was found to be failing and in danger of collapse. A few months were spent working with our architect and the health department on possible solutions, but none were to be had. That left us in June of 2015 back on the hunt for a new space.

Finding a site for the expanded version of the brewery has continued to be a challenge. Multiple factors must be satisfied to successfully establish a location.

First, the building itself must be suitable for a brewery (strong floors, adequate ceiling height, gas service, sewer preferable to septic, etc.). Also, does the location of the building make sense for the business model?

Second, can a deal be made with the landlord? Not every landlord will even consider a brewery as a tenant, and not every landlord is someone you can make a mutually-satisfactory deal with.

Finally, there are all sorts of government agencies that might have something to say that can prevent the establishment of a brewery at your preferred location. There could be zoning restrictions, the brewery can’t be within 200 feet of a school or house of worship, the health department can kill a deal if the building is not on sewer, etc.

Recent examples of sites that did not work out illustrate how the three main factors must all come together.

In Farmingdale, we identified an excellent location (new construction near the train station) and found a very supportive local government. After extensive negotiations, we were able to come to a satisfactory agreement with the landlord. However, serious structural issues were discovered four months in. Despite repeated assurances that the concrete floor over a basement parking garage was strong enough for the brewery, only when we got a structural engineer to take into account our actual operations was it discovered that we were exceeding the capacity of the floor by 200%.

In Babylon, we found another government happy to have us at a location we found in the north-east corner of the village. In this case, after a number of meetings over the course of a month and being welcomed as a prospective tenant, the landlord changed his mind about having a brewery in his building.

In Kings Park, we found a building and location we were very happy with, and a landlord we had good accord with. The health department, however, killed the deal. There is a formula of property size, designated use, and gallons-per-day flow rate for wastewater when a property is on septic rather than sewer. Our calculations of the brewery operations along with a tasting room were within the allowed rate for the property. However, the county health department insisted on applying a higher flow rate (that of a full bar) to the tasting room. This put us over the allowed gallons per day flow rate for that property. A number of other sites in north-western Suffolk had the same flow-rate issues.

Other sites were deemed impractical (some too expensive, some too small, some were problematic due to town and village restrictions).

So, where are we as of today?

Nothing to be revealed as yet, the hunt continues. We are on the trail of a number of prospects... more to follow when we have news to share...

Smithtown Septic Woes

Wednesday July 15, 2015

Well, a hell of a lot has been going on since my last blog post way back in early March.

Things were looking good with the space we leased (270 West Main Street, Smithtown) until we discovered some serious septic structural issues. Long story short, after months of trying to resolve this with the landlord, the county health department, and our resourceful architect, we had to terminate our lease there this week and move on. There ultimately was no solution which would allowed us to brew there as planned, and we could not even have a tasting room serving up our beer there.

We have some good leads on alternate spaces, news of that to follow as soon as we have it.

New Brewery Location

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

I haven’t blogged at all since August of last year, otherwise I’d have written a long and winding tale of various locations for the new expanded brewery that did not work out. We kept trying to land the brewery in Farmingdale, but also worked on potential locations in Hicksville. It was a bit of a roller coaster at times.

We finally have a good landlord and a new place to soon call home should all go well with the planning and zoning boards of the
Village of Northport. The production portion of the brewery will be on Scudder Avenue. The entrance to the tasting room and retail space of the brewery will be on Main Street, down the alley on the west side of the Chase bank (near the old street clock).

Northport Main Street Today

The process of finding a location for the full-time brewery has taken much longer than we anticipated, over a year and-a-half at this point. We’ve been hearing from other brewers that their location searches took about the same amount of time. So, prospective brewers, keep that in mind!

We will be appearing before the Village of Northport Planning Board on Tuesday, March 25th and before the Village of Northport Zoning Board on Wednesday, March 26th. If all goes well, we can start the process of building a 7 BBL brewery with tasting room on May 1st.

Wish us luck! Even better, if you are a Northport resident, come on down to the Zoning Board meeting to voice some support!

Blind Bat Brewery Club

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

I had been kicking around the idea of doing a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign, but have decided against that route for a number of reasons. However, I still want to open up the possibility of participation by people interested in helping to launch Blind Bat to the next stage.

You may already be familiar with the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) model for local agriculture. That’s where folks pay a farmer money up front, before the season has started, and then receive a portion of the harvest throughout that season or seasons (typically Summer and Autumn). This helps the farmer with cash flow -- providing seed money, if you will.

You may also be aware of wine clubs, where one can become a member at a local winery, and then receive a number of bottles of wine throughout the year. You’d also get free tastings and discounts on purchases at the winery.

With an eye to our expansion Blind Bat will be forming something inspired by both of the above,
The Blind Bat Brewery Club.

EPSILON-2013a-BlindBatBrewerClub Card Image

You’ll be able to buy a yearly membership in The Blind Bat Brewery Club, at various levels. Quarterly allotments of beer may be in special-format bottles, growlers, etc. Those allotments of beer will be provided to members at three of the five levels. You’d have to come to the brewery to pick it up, though. At this point we are not planning on shipping the beer, as we can’t guarantee it will be handled well. (Wine withstands Fed Ex, UPS, etc. better than beer will.) But since you’d be coming to the brewery to pick up your beer, you’d also get a to enjoy a nice tasting of what’s new on tap at the brewery -- and also help us do some R&D for those experimental brews available only in the tasting room

Memberships in The Blind Bat Brewery Club will become effective when the new, full-time brewery opens. We will
not be providing membership benefits while the brewery is still in part-time nano mode. We are working on opening the new brewery this year, 2013, and are at this point 99% sure it will be in Farmingdale.

That said,
you can join now, while we are still in nano mode. As thanks for helping us early, we’ll add additional discounts to each “pre-launch” membership. Your first year of benefits would begin when the new brewery opens, but you’d be helping us with some seed money to get to that opening day sooner.

Membership Levels:

Epsilon $50 (Yearly)
- Free Tastings at the Brewery
- 5% off purchases at the brewery
(Join early at the Pre-Launch Level and get 10% off purchases at the brewery)

Delta $100 (Yearly)
- Free Tastings at the Brewery
- 10% off purchases
(Join early at the Pre-Launch Level and get 15% off purchases at the brewery)

Gamma $250 (Yearly)
- Free Tastings at the Brewery for Member & One Guest
- 10% off purchases
- Quarterly allotment of beer (either large format bottles or growlers)
(Join early at the Pre-Launch Level and get 15% off purchases at the brewery)

Beta $500 (Yearly)
- Free Tastings at the Brewery for Member & One Guest
- 15% off purchases
- Quarterly allotment of beer (either large format bottles or growlers)
- Voting rights on Quarterly Special Brew
(Join early at the Pre-Launch Level and get 20% off purchases at the brewery)

Alpha $1000 (2 Years)
- Free Tastings at the Brewery for Member & One Guest
- 20% off purchases
- Quarterly allotment of beer (either large format bottles or growlers)
- Voting rights on Quarterly Special Brew
(Join early at the Pre-Launch Level and get 25% off purchases at the brewery for the first year)

Expansion Plan$ Co$t Money

Thursday, January 3, 2012

Working on the expansion plans, and raising necessary funding, but there are various costs to be incurred during the transition. So, I’m thinking of a Kickstarter or IndieGoGo campaign to help with such sundry things, but am on the fence about such campaigns.

If you have any opinion at all about this, please feel free to answer the brief SurveyMonkey poll below:

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Still Expanding

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Haven’t posted about the delayed - but still ongoing - expansion plans in a while. Building in Bohemia did not work after all, so I have been exploring possibilities in Farmingdale, Deer Park, and Smithtown. Had still been trying to find a farm location, but the handful of leads on that were ultimately dead ends.


Monday, March 26, 2012

I’ve been neglecting the blog again, but have been keeping up on twitter and facebook as far as any news, updates, etc. Haven’t found time for what used to be the way to get something out quickly, and now by comparison seems like having to find the time to sit down to write that novel.

So, as April approaches, what have I been up to?

Still working on finding new space for an expanded brewery. While Regina andI had been hoping to create a farm brewery as the next step, that is going to have to wait for a bit longer. So, for the next phase (expanded brewery sans farm), I had been hoping to find something near Centerport in Huntington Station, East Northport, Northport, or Huntington -- or even Centerport itself. However, an ideal space and circumstance may be in Bohemia. Lots of details to be worked out first, particularly funding. So, I’m working on that, too.

Have been developing some new beer ideas, including a sessionable but hoppy I.P.A. I have a couple of I.P.A.s in the works for 2012, which should see the light of day if the Mayans aren’t right or if the poles don’t do a sudden shift, etc.

Big fun looming later this week as I brew a collaboration Saison with Dan and Greg at Long Ireland on their 20 BBL system. We’ll have it out in time for Long Island Craft Beer Week in May.

So, back to work, and here I am again hoping to be better about keeping up the old blog.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Long time no blog! Have been keeping busy with the brewery as well as a full-time job, admittedly it has been difficult to keep up with the brewery in this mode. I’ve been looking at various spaces for expansion, with the plan to transition from the full-time job to the brewery in 2012.

Our first choice was to find some farmland, as my wife Regina is an organic grower leasing a few small parcels here and there (hither and yon?). Since she has been making good use of the brewery’s spent grains (mulch, compost, feed for her friend Jen’s chickens), and since we have been using the brewery’s waste water here at home on her gardens, the concept of a farm brewery was our goal for the next move.

The farm would ideally be in western Suffolk, rather than the east end, as we also want to help preserve what little farmland that still exists in these parts.

It seems that it will take more time to secure and establish such an operation, in the meantime, something needs to give. Either the brewery or the full-time job. Have been operating in this mode for a number of years now.

So, while our search for land continues, a building will likely be the next step -- either leased or purchased. There are a number of candidates that we’ve narrowed down to, am hoping to decide on one soon. Regina will continue to take the spent grains for her farming, and the brewery will continue to use some things she grows for use in the brewery. This has so far included potatoes for the Long Island Potato Stout, coriander for a number of beers, and basil for the Honey & Basil Ale. We’ve only made limited use of home-grown hops thus far, but there will be more hops planted and used in the future.

Looking forward to some positive changes for the Blind Bat Brewery in 2012.
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