We Have a Brewery Design!

Today we finally submitted all the required drawings for our building permit. Many thanks to Torchio Architects and SAI Engineering for bringing this together.

We’re really happy with the design. In the brewery we’ve got  nice layout to keep our workflow organized plus plenty of room to expand production as required. The taproom has been divided into two rooms; one more like a bar and the other more like a performance space. We also ended up with a nice plan for the restrooms – The bigger our taproom areas the higher our occupancy rating, which leads to someone saying “you guys need to add more restrooms” so that became a project in itself.

And that big roll-up door in the brewery? It starts 28 inches above ground outside so it needs a ramp. We’ll want to be able to haul out our spent brewing grain with a forklift since the truck loading doors won’t be much help with that… unless we wanted to block one of the docks with a grain dumpster. Next thing you know, planning that ramp means you’re rearranging the parking spaces. Fortunately we still have a LOT of parking.

Soon the cutting and smashing will begin. There’s still a ton (probably literally) of old wiring and electrical panels leftover from the supermarket that have to come out. We’re eager to post some “clean slate” photos after demolition… and especially to start documenting all the construction. It’s been fun imagining this stuff on paper but seeing every drain, every light switch, every little fixture we agonized over come together in the real world.

All quiet on the Eastern Shore

It’s been a while since our last post but we’re still grinding away!

We’re working with our architects, electrical, and mechanical engineers to generate the package needed for our building and renovation permits. The plans are coming together nicely! Our architect has worked out a very nice arrangement for restrooms and fire exits that’s much more elegant than the preliminary sketches we gave her; and now we’re digging into the minute details like choosing HVAC systems, light fixtures, and plumbing fixtures. That type of stuff all gets loaded into a sort of “energy study” of the building.

Fun fact: When renovating an older commercial property, once the scope of the project gets large enough, you need to bring the building up to the latest energy efficiency standards. Of course this is a good idea and will pay off in the long run, but it’s great to have a good architectural and engineering firm in your corner because it’s a surprisingly meticulous process.

Tornado on the Island

A tornado did some damage near the brewery last Monday. Those of you familiar with the area will realize that tornadoes are pretty unusual around here! We suffered some minor damage to the building, but nothing to complain about compared to other homes and business that were severely damaged or destroyed – our hearts go out to those who fared worse in this event.

Some of the area’s primary power lines run right behind us and they were blown down… but fortunately fell away from the brewery instead of onto it! Again, it ended up being a minor event for us compared to the power loss everyone suffered. Delmarva Power had teams replacing lines & poles right away – we were astonished at the speed with which they got things back up and running.

You can see the rear of the brewery building on the left.

Thanks to everyone for all the concerned inquiries we received after the storm. Yes, we had a little damage but it’s minor and the building’s insurance is covering the repairs. Power’s back on and we’re currently working with architects and engineers to finalize our demolition & renovation plans.

Stay tuned!

Sprinkler Testing

The authorities are very interested in seeing a new certification on the sprinkler system before we do any more work on the building, so we had the guys from FireGuard come out to test the sprinkler system, extinguishers, and fire alarms.

Special thanks to AJ, Christian, and both Andrews from FireGuard!

The sprinkler system is back in certification so we’re that much safer working on the project. The whole fire system will need some tweaking after renovation is complete – certain things like smoke detectors, extinguisher placement, sprinkler head configurations, and the control panel programming will be based on the final interior layout of the brewery & taproom.

Next on the agenda: Meeting with a new architect in an attempt to speed up our building permit application!

Moving the Brewhouse

We got up super early this morning to pack up the brewhouse and get it shipped over to the brewery in Chester, MD.  Here’s a little clip of the brewhouse making its way over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge and into the brewery parking lot.

And special thanks to Tim for more photos of the move:


The Lowboy trailer arrives. We need the lowest possible trailer or else the brewhouse is too tall for highway travel.


The Brewhouse gets lifted onto the truck almost as a single piece…


The Whirlpool/Hot Liquor Tank is loaded separately to remain within highway width restrictions.


Everything loaded and strapped down.

Then it’s a 20 minute drive across the bridge to the new brewery location…


Unloading the brewhouse


Unloading the Whirlpool/Hot Liquor Tank


And after some extreme maneuvering with the Genie boom lift – it’s all inside!

Nice wall – now let’s cut a hole in it!

The construction team is busy at work (on a Sunday!) cutting a hole in the wall for our new equipment loading door.

This will lead directly into the heart of the brewery – right next to the brewhouse. We’ll be able to use this door to bring in large equipment like the brewhouse, fermenting tanks, and carbonation tanks. This is a much shorter path than the one from the rear truck loading doors, so we wouldn’t be forced to move everything whenever we buy a new piece of equipment.

Here you see the guys sawing a horizontal slot into the wall where they can slide in a reinforcing steel header before knocking out the blocks below it.


Ready to fit the first piece of steel header into place.


After the header is in place to support the wall above the door, it’s safe to start removing blocks.


Looking out. Instantly more ventilation than the building’s had in ten years and we’re loving it! The side parking lot will be a great place for outdoor festivities and with the door open everyone can watch the brewhouse in action.


After all the blocks are gone, a temporary plywood barrier is erected until the roll-up door is ready to be installed. This is also a great time to begin demolishing the 1970’s-era supermarket walls and ceiling tiles. Soon it’ll all be history – this new door will make it much easier to haul out demolition debris.


These guys have been fantastic to deal with – highly recommended.

I really need to do something about those weeds, right? Time to wind some new string onto the weed whacker.

Turning an empty supermarket into a brewery

Welcome to the saga of Cult Classic Brewing.

Wow… you got here early. We’re not exactly ready for guests just yet but we’d love to show you what’s going on!

We’re just beginning construction for the brewery. Between building time and waiting for brewery permits, we expect to be open for business in the spring or summer of 2018. As things move along we’ll post updates, photos, end the occasional video so you can keep up with our progress.

Cult Classic Brewing is taking over a building that used to be an Acme Supermarket. It’s been vacant for almost a decade. Here’s a look at the building before we start doing anything with it.


You can still see scars on the floor where the old supermarket aisles used to stand.


Gloomy, right? Very few of the lights work anymore. The supermarket lighting was controlled by a 1980’s-era electronic timer that gave up the ghost long ago. Not worth fixing it though since the drop ceiling & lights will be demolished soon.


Behind the rear wall. The doors on the right lead out to the deli, and off to the right is the loading dock. Straight ahead lay the remnants of the meat department coolers. Above them is a mezzanine with offices, the electrical room, and the store’s massive HVAC unit.


This is the old air conditioning compressor up in the mezzanine. Those refrigerant pipes are 2-1/2″ diameter! I’d be terrified to learn how much electricity it uses. Fortunately it’s getting replaced with a new, and much more efficient, air conditioning unit.


Up on the roof. This is the old dish for the Acme’s computer network satellite, and you can see racks that used to hold refrigeration units for the deli/meat/seafood cases and refrigerated/frozen food aisles. They’ll make it that much easier to install our brewery glycol chiller. 

Thanks to Katherine Gaines of AmbientEye Photography for these shots

So what are we doing first?
This weekend we’re coordinating everything needed to move the brewhouse into our new location.

A new, larger door was required so the construction crew has been cutting a hole in the wall. Since we’ve got to chop a hole anyway, the thought is to install a door that’s big enough for anything we can imagine purchasing over the next decade or two. This, of course, leads to much daydreaming about the future – and looking up dimensions of equipment we can only dream of at the moment.