CODE START OFF ON THE RIGHT FOOT with
PROFESSIONALS W R I TT E N BY S H AW N B E R G E R O N
closed my last article by saying we’d be moving towards fire pumps, alarms, and chillers but the forces of the everchanging world of craft distilling have made me take another path. We keep hearing from distillers who are facing difficulties and we need to stop this from happening. Let’s talk through some of these difficulties, and remember, it’s less expensive to learn from the mistakes of others. A few weeks back I received a call from a successful distiller looking to expand. Their products are doing well, they’ve won awards for their spirits, and they have a client base. They need to move aging out of the distillery as they need another still, and they want to know if we can help them design a new rickhouse? Sure we can, sounds easy, until we get there. Like many startup distilleries this one was never really planned, it just happened. One day they were doing the nine-to-five and a few days later they’re mashing and bottling—the evolutionary process that leads to many startups. All has gone well as the locals love them and they’re bringing new business to an area that’s been a bit depressed. They go to the local permit office for the rickhouse expansion and that’s where the yeast suddenly becomes tainted. There’s a new planner in town and this one goes by the book. “Let’s see, the distillery was never ‘really’ approved, you never came in for the required planning review, and you don’t seem to have a Certificate of Occupancy. You’re gonna have to get these things taken care of before anything else and by
the way, you shouldn’t even be operating.” This happened and now our guy is in a world of crap! Here’s a second true story. Another successful distillery with more than a decade of success, distribution in more than 30 states, and a bright future, has never had much of a tasting room, but this needs to happen since part of their expansion plan is to do wonderful tastings and bring in local chefs. They need to show off their new seasonal gin and bring the local food scene together. All good for them and all good for the community, a real win-win. At first blush, easy peasy; who’s not going to support this? My distiller does what they’ve done for years: They call their favorite contractor who loves their gin and has always done a wonderful job from start to finish. He gets the building permit and he’s off and running. Walls are coming down, new walls are going up, paint colors are being chosen, and the fire chief walks in and the conversation goes like this: Chief – “What’s going on? What are we building?” Builder – “We’re doing that tasting room, the one that we just got a permit for.” Chief – “You don’t have a fire department permit. No one called me. This is an expansion and change of use. The building needs a sprinkler system and I need to review the plans. You’re going to have to take a break for a while.”
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.