07 Jan Race to the Starting Line
It’s about damn time.
FEBRUARY 4, 2015. Pending approval from the King County Department of Health on our taproom occupancy, we intend to have the taproom open with four beers on tap, perfectly timed to counterbalance all those trying to do the post-holiday clean-out, exercise, budgetary rein-in, whatever. Go ahead, still do all that stuff, just drink Counterbalance while you’re doing it. It’ll be fine, you’ll like it. Initially, we’ll be open Wednesday-Friday 4pm-8-ish, with some weekend hours TBD. The taproom will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays for the time being, but we hope to have week-long hours soon.
In addition to the February 4 date, anyone interested should sign up for our newsletter as well as keep an eye on our Facebook page. If all goes well, we may unlock the doors a little sooner and throw together a party or two for our special friends and supporters.
Let’s back up briefly for some catch-up: we passed our electrical and building inspections mid-December, six months late on our original timeline, which by our estimations puts us right on target for a real-world brewery start-up. Quite honestly, the entire Counterbalance project has grown enormously from conception to realization. What we imagined as a bare-bones, 3,000 square foot brewery and tasting room using second-hand equipment and salvaged furniture is now a 5,000 square foot space with a shiny, brand-new custom Portland Kettle Works brewhouse, 300 square foot walk-in cooler, brand-new office and staff break room that we designed and built ourselves, an 830 square foot taproom with handmade tables and bar, 14 foot ceilings, a wall of 9 foot windows, and space for nearly 50 people. Needless to say, the headaches piled up but we’re awfully proud of what we’ve built. After a full year of labor, it’s a little hard to believe we’re actually only at the beginning.
December 20, 2014 marked our first brew day, or ninety-first if you’re on the Frank Lawrence brewing calendar. We were lucky to have several friends stop by to show some love and rake out some spent grains (thanks Genevieve and Tom!) during the process. Between preparation, brewing, cleaning, and spinning in circles, the whole thing took close to 12 hours, but we were only mildly surprised that it went so well. Bad Wolf, our dark ale, was born out of that first day’s effort. Eager to get our three current fermenting tanks filled, we brewed twice more on the two following days (Abigale blonde ale and Counterbalance IPA came out of these).
As things worked out, the Christmas holiday fell right after our three-day brewing frenzy, so we took a break to sleep, drink, and be merry. Not necessarily in that order. It was nice.
A week later, Abigale had finished primary fermentation, so we transferred her to the brite tank (yes, this is commonly how brewers spell “brite,” though the pain it causes me is akin to writing “drive-thru”) for some more conditioning and carbonation. On December 29, we brewed Kushetka, our Imperial Stout.
And now we wait.
The kegs are cleaned and sanitized. Abigale will be the first into kegs, but all four will be ready for our launch, and all will be available for wholesale to local bars and restaurants in February. More are on the way as well, all in good time.