Just one week ago we began prepping for the storm that shall not be named.
For us this meant securing a generator, obtaining at least 24 hrs worth of gas, doing a bit of electrical planning for installation of the generator, and downloading an app to our IPad based POS that would send alerts when the power went out (yes apparently there is and app for that).
With the knowledge that our fermenters and cold room could maintain temperature for about 6 hours with no power, the family and I hunkered down at my parents' place outside of Havana so we'd all be in the same place, so we could keep an eye on the #havanhopyard and pecan grove, and because the superstructure of their house was designed for 200 mph winds!
We received notification that power had gone out at the brewery at 0220 AM on Friday. We rolled out of bed around 0600, heated bottled water on the gas stove, and poured it through a filter full of loose coffee grounds for a bit of pick-me-up before we headed into town.
Sporting a chainsaw, timber chains, gas cans, and extension cords... I wasn't planning to let a downed tree get between us and saving the beer. We found the path to the brewery to be somewhat well traveled and it looked as though people were out far earlier than us trying to get to wherever they were going.
Upon arrival to the brewery and unloading the generator we realized that our best laid plans had been foiled by the 4 millimeter difference in diameter between a 20 amp and a 30 amp 240v generator adapter!
Some creative rewiring by Beerslinger Blair got generator #1 up and running. A bit of rough math told us that the Honda 8750 was woefully undersized to run the whole place, so we concentrated on getting the walk-in up and running so beer would be cold-ish for any whom ventured away from their storm ravaged homes in search of respite.
Once we knew the beer was cooling, we took a gamble and found that all of the generators at United Rentals had been taken, but they happened to have a diesel driven light tower sporting a 6 KW generator. Better than a poke in the eye!
I towed this little guy up to the brewery, shifted the walk-in to it all by its lonesome, and wired the Honda to the main panel making sure to isolate the brewery from the city grid via our comically huge disconnect switch on the rear of the building.
From there it felt like that scene on Apollo 13 where Gary Sinise worked to figure our which power loads were essential and in what order they had to boot up to keep from overloading the circuit. Mission accomplished! Not only did we get the fermentation chiller back up and running (albeit a bit later than planned) but we were able run a couple of fans and lights inside the tasting room making it possible to open up for most of our planned 3pm-10pm Friday hours!
Though the beer in the walk-in survived, it took a while for the fermenters to get back down to temperature. Once the dust settled and we got through the holiday weekend cleaning up yards and a few downed trees, it was time to do a damage assessment. We found that our 4 bbl batches of Nyctophile and Surface Dweller, which were in active fermentation at the time of the power outage, may be considered casualties of the storm. Along with those major hits, a minor oversight on my part while trying to get the air conditioners online left two pilot batches (Bottom Dweller DIPA and Short Timer Export Stout) without temperature control for almost 48 hours may also result in their demise as well.
All is well though! The exciting news is that 4 new pilot batches and 2 new Fall seasonals are just below the horizon. Fall is coming, I can feel it!
Now that my long winded post-weather recap is coming to a close, we're extending our hours slightly starting this week to include Friday night from 3:00 to 10:00 pm and Saturday from Noon to 8:00 pm. Bring those growlers to get prepped for gameday!
Ryan S. LaPete
Ameture Electrician @
DEEP Brewing Co.