Construction Progress – 2017-12-27

On December 4th, 2017, it finally happened. We started construction on the True Respite brewery and tap room. Progress felt painfully slow for the first week as our concrete floors were saw-cut to open up access to our sewer and drain piping:

At one point, we had our very own Stonehenge made of concrete slab:

Once saw-cutting was complete, things started to really pick up speed. We got an excavator in to dig out the trenches and open up the pits for our plumbers to lay pipe while the drywall team started framing out our walls:

It wasn’t long before we received approval from the WSSC plumbing inspectors so we filled in all the trenches with dirt and rocks and continued to build our interior walls. This wall in particular may have a very interesting future as a 14′ x 28′ art piece:

The concrete crew then came out and began prepping the tank farm sump curbs and the concrete sublayer for rebar supports:

Meanwhile, the drywall guys have gotten to work closing up one side of each wall while the electricians pull wires for our brewery lighting and power outlets:

Every day it looks more and more like the brewery we’ve dreamed up over the years. It’s a warm, happy feeling to watch this all come together exactly like we’d imagined it!

We look forward to offering more exciting updates in the near future. Stay tuned!

Cheers,

The True Respite Team

Brendan, Bailey, and Kenny

MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT: Meet Our Brewer

He’s a wonderful teammate, a highly accomplished brewer, and a humble family man.

The wait is over. Today, we can finally introduce you to the man whose experience and technical brewing excellence will be a differentiator for True Respite. We’re very proud to announce that Kenny Allen will be joining the team full time as Head Brewer and Director of Brewing Operations.

Meet Kenny Allen

Kenny’s 17+ years of professional brewing experience started in Ashburn, VA, at Old Dominion Brewing Company. His first day was a last-minute bottling gig he landed after walking in and asking for a job on a whim. It didn’t take long for him to realize that he’d stumbled into a special place full of uniquely talented people. He put his nose to the grind and did whatever odd jobs needed to be done while continuing to put in regular work on the bottling line.

Through the high caliber tutelage of the cast and crew around him, he learned the ropes of running a brewing line. He soaked in as much as his peers and mentors could offer, eventually earning his way to becoming a shift brewer. He continued to learn feverishly and climbed the ranks through lab manager and packaging manager until finally earning Old Dominio’s esteemed title of Brewmaster.

OD brewed no less than six GABF medal-winning beers under his direction as Brewmaster. Some were original OD recipes (like the GABF Gold Medal the OD team earned for their IPA) and others were beers contract brewed for other brands. Regardless, the brewery thrived, putting out quality beer after quality beer.

After 13 proud years at Old Dominion, Kenny ventured out to pursue professional knowledge in a larger and more structured manufacturing environment. He spent six years as a production coach and quality manager for Nestle, learning and perfecting lean manufacturing practices. By the time he left, he was armed with all the tools necessary to dominate quality control and to maximize production while minimizing waste.

Six years was long enough to reinvigorate Kenny’s thirst for brewing great beer and a golden opportunity soon presented itself: Kenny was offered the role of Brewmaster at Ashburn, VA, startup Old Ox Brewing Company. Kenny joined up early enough to help oversee construction. He was there for the critical early life of the brewery and helped make it the esteemed beer lover’s destination it is today.

Mid-2016 saw another opportunity to help grow a fledgling brewery arise. Mustang Sally Brewing Company had just opened in Chantilly, VA, and Kenny got word that they were looking for a seasoned pro to take the reins on their young brewing operation. Kenny, now experienced at growing a successful craft brewery from the ground up, jumped at the opportunity to leave his mark on another great Virginia craft brand. A short year and change later, MS is growing at breakneck pace and earning a reputation for consistently brewing high quality, approachable beers. (If you haven’t tried their Amber Lager yet, we suggest you do!)

Still, one thing has been missing at each of Kenny’s stops: true ownership. It’s one thing to love brewing and to love the excitement of growing a young business into a flourishing industry leader. It’s something entirely different for that business to be yours.

Early on, we [Brendan & Bailey] decided that we were never going to hire True Respite’s first brewer. It just didn’t feel right. We wanted a partner in this process. We wanted our brewer to have the same level of energy and devotion that we were bringing ourselves. In regards to managing the business, we wanted an equal who would challenge us to find newer and better ways of accomplishing our goals–especially if those challenges came from a voice of experience.

We’re so lucky to have Kenny joining our team as he has all that we’ve been looking for and more. He’s a wonderful teammate, a highly accomplished brewer, and a humble family man. He’ll be the perfect torch bearer for this movement we’ve been building. We can’t say enough how proud we are to have gotten where we are and to have built the team we have. This is truly the start of something great!

Cheers,

Brendan, Bailey, and Kenny

[P.S. We start construction in two weeks!]

Missing The Mundane

Let us first start by saying we are very much looking forward to one day writing about emotionally mundane things like cutting concrete and passivating steel. We continue to feel a bit like that bitcoin guy:

Bitcoin - Up
Good day.
Bitcoin - Down
Bad day.
Bitcoin - Roller Coaster
Pretty much every day.

It’s a good thing motion sickness only applies to the physical world; we’d never hold down a lunch. Anyway… We’ve crossed another major milestone: We’ve finalized our brewery and tap room design and secured the funding we need to build it! (Stop us if you’ve heard this before.) Still, we have to admit that we’re feeling pretty great about managing to squeeze a little blood from this stone just one more time. (We’ll save you the horror of posting a .gif for this one!) Let’s take a moment to reflect on what has happened since we last wrote:

  1. We designed two breweries: Best Case and Worst Case. This let us determine how much blood must be squeezed from the stone.
  2. We requested a loan increase through the SBA.
  3. Our request was approved by the SBA.
  4. Our request was approved by the banks using the SBA guarantee.
  5. We secured additional private funding from a few key people.
  6. We finalized the brewery & tap room design. (It’s a very happy medium between Best & Worst Case.)
  7. We got a new tap room rendering to finally share with the world (and we’ve featured it on this blog post!)
  8. We received our pilot brewhouse and our pilot cellar tanks.
  9. One of those cellar tanks was badly dented upon arrival.
  10. We received a few of our production cellar tanks.
  11. We received our glycol chiller, air compressor, and keg washer.
  12. We got our online merch store up and running.
  13. We passed the Montgomery County Liquor Board hearing.
  14. We received our Montgomery County Building Permit and had our Forest Conservation Plan approved.
  15. We’ve applied for our plumbing permits through WSSC.
  16. We’ve put in progress cool things like tap handle, flight carrier, and glassware design.
  17. We brewed a great NE IPA and an absolutely delicious Grisette.

Here are a few photos to offer a little imagery for some of the bullet points above:

Bailey defending our request for a liquor license
Denton the dented fermenter
The pilot cellar tanks
The first batch of production cellar tanks still strapped in the shipping container
Hauling the first production fermenter into the space
Our first three production cellar tanks
Our semi-automatic keg washer

Things are still in progress that may end up delaying this process yet again–but we’ve learned to roll with those punches. This thing is happening and we’re very, very proud of what we’re building. Hopefully the next time you hear from us we’ll be droning on about trench safety, p-traps, and low point drains. Until then…

Cheers!

The True Respite Team

The Origin Story

True Respite Brewing Company is the culmination of an ever-growing love for the craft beer moment

Our story started when Co-Founder Brendan O’Leary set his phone’s alarm for 5 minutes before midnight: January 18th, 2008. That 5-minute window gave him just enough time to wake up, wander through his empty house down to the fridge, grab a cold brew of choice, and head back to his dimly lit room. Then, right at the crack of twelve, he took a hearty gulp and welcomed himself to the ripe age of 21.

Although the rest of the house was dark and still, that moment still burns brightly in his mind. His discovery of craft beer while off starting an internship 516 miles from his friends back at Georgia Tech quickly turned into a home brewing hobby meant to pass the time. That hobby turned into a passion; that passion turned into a dream. Today, that dream is becoming True Respite.


Although they’d been dating for nearly two years, it wasn’t until 2011 that Brendan finally convinced Co-Founder Bailey O’Leary to join a brew day. She immediately fell in love with the marriage of art and science found in home brewing. Even more so, she became inspired by the culture surrounding the craft beer movement. Her appetite for embracing new beers in new environments became insatiable as she soaked in every detail of each local brewery experience. For her, the wholeness of the social and cultural moment was every bit as crucial as the tasting of the beer itself.

Energized by the growing scene, Brendan and Bailey spent four of the next five years living in Denver, CO, soaking in the vibe of every local brewery and tap room they could find. Together, after drinking great beer and conversing with former strangers, they often discussed what made each visit special. These shared thoughts and experiences eventually snowballed into a vision for the “perfect” craft beer experience.


Now, True Respite Brewing Company is the culmination of an ever-growing love for the craft beer moment. Creating these moments of true respite, where great beer and a relaxed environment turn strangers into friends, is our primary mission.

In the end, we just want to see you all happy.


 

We Did It.

For three years we battled. We battled naysayers. We battled inertia. We battled the slow onset of doubt that followed rejections from thirty different lending institutions. (This is the actual number. It is not an exaggeration.) But today… today, we don’t need to worry about a single one of those battles anymore. Those ones are behind us. For a moment, we’ve ascended to our own nirvana. You might even say we are experiencing something extremely valuable: True Respite. Why?

All of our loans have been approved.

We weren’t expecting the phone call on Wednesday when, while on a cycling trip through a very sticky 90+ degree heat, Brendan’s phone started ringing from an awkward back zipper pocket in his cycling shirt. After a precarious bit of fumbling and while coasting to a slow halt, he answered to a cheerful voice on the other end offering congratulations. Bailey, unaware, pulled up beside him and waited patiently to restart the journey.

The conversation didn’t last long. When it was finished, Brendan turned to Bailey and simply said, “That was Craig. We did it.” That’s when the rush hit.

 

Funding Moment
Us just moments after learning that our final loan had been approved

We leaped and cheered and hugged and high-fived and shouted without reserve. A couple of friendly guys who were stopped in their car at the intersection beside us laughed and danced a bit along with us, not knowing what incredible news we were celebrating.

 

Funding Moment Scene
The unfittingly plain scene surrounding our moment of great joy

The weight that was finally lifted off of our shoulders was immeasurable. That’s when we knew it was really happening. Like–really happening. We celebrated with a family trip to the local fro-yo spot and let our minds race to fill insanely long lists of things that must be done. It was all so incredible and terrifying and exhilarating at the same time.

This morning we had a conference call with all of our lenders to choreograph the oncoming blitz of loan closings. Timing has proven to be a critical factor and that’s especially going to be so when considering the delivery of our equipment. Therefore, it was decided that we had to get it on order as quickly as possible to cut the lead time as short as possible and to fully inject all of our required equity to satisfy the lender requirements.

As of today, our brewing equipment is officially on order.

mug of beer
A similar size and comparable model to the brewhouse that will grace the True Respite brewery

We’re absolutely giddy with excitement! The next major step is to sign our lease. We expect that to occur mid-to-late next week. Monday we have our final walk-through scheduled with the landlord and we will likely need to make a few minor tweaks to the formal lease document before finally being able to sign it. At that point, we’ll make a major announcement and let everyone know the address where we’ll be opening.

From here, it’s a sprint. We’ve stacked our dominoes well and are now having a blast helping them tip one after the other. Just today, we received our Design & Development documents from our architect. We cannot wait to share more about the incredible brewery and tap room we’re bringing you. We’ve designed something completely unique that will immerse every one of you deeply into what True Respite really is.

Hang on to your hats, folks. This wild ride is just getting started.

 

Cheers!

Brendan & Bailey

The Final Countdown

Three years of effort comes down to this one day…

(Hit play on this YouTube video for effect before continuing.)

Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017.

Three years of dogged battling to get this brewery properly planned and fully funded will have brought us to this one day.

This Wednesday, one critical finance partner will send our loan package to their loan committee to decide whether or not to finance our project. We have several finance partners involved with this project and each requires the other’s commitment. That means one piece falling through will cause this entire deal to collapse.

We’ve slogged tirelessly forward for three years, enduring massive life-changing course adjustments–like getting laid off from a lucrative career and resolving to sell our home to move East and follow our dream; like unexpectedly welcoming two new, incredible, beautiful children into our lives; and like losing a couple family members to injuries and illness when we just weren’t ready to say goodbye.

We’ve suffered devastating setbacks–like being denied business loans over two dozen times for not having enough collateral or personal wealth before we were finally approved by a community development lender that saw real potential in our business. Even after we got our preliminary approval, we lost the real estate we had included in the loan package over a questionable parking dispute. That alone set us back four months.

But despite the heartbreak (and to be quite frank… often in spite of it) we’ve also celebrated huge wins. That local community development lender, Business Finance Group, saw the potential in us and worked patiently with us for months as we built a creative deal that will work. We’ve also managed to bring together a group of investors whose expertise has proven invaluable in navigating the challenges of starting up a small business.

We can tell you right now–we are not sleeping well… and it’s not the 2-month old baby screaming for food and cuddles in the dead of night that’s costing us the most sleep. The anticipation of this decision is weighing heavily on us as we try to act calm and carry on for the next three days.

To be clear: If this decision is a no. We’re hanging up our brewer’s paddles and conceding defeat. We can only take so many body blows.

But if this decision is a yes, the fight for funding takes a massive leap towards the finish line. The SBA is still mulling over our application for a working capital loan and we’re in the process of onboarding a conventional partner to join the capital equipment financing side. But these pieces can’t fall into place without this huge decision coming on Wednesday, and a yes vote will only help to strengthen our position in these approvals as we finalize our financing and move towards construction.

So here we are: The Final Countdown. The loan applications are out and our brewery’s fate has been passed into the hands of the lenders who are considering joining this crazy, beautiful ride.

Check back later this week to see what will become of True Respite Brewing Company.

 

Cheers,

Brendan & Bailey