With another estimated month of construction needed, he says they’ll start brewing as soon as they receive all the needed clearances.
“We’re starting off with a 30 barrel brew house and 60 barrel fermenters. We’re starting off big,” he says.
That means annual production of between 4,000 and 5,000 barrels with their current equipment. With the capacity afforded by the building, he says they can get close to 30,000 barrels a year.
“We were looking for a space that would allow us to stay here for ten years. So when we’re successful, we don’t have to move and it also allows us to have a big open tasting room,” he says.
“Once we get some cash in, we plan to get a pilot system in so we can start playing around, do some weird small stuff in the tasting room,” he says.
While he says he looked at two locations in Philly, the focus was on South Jersey where he and his primary investor and longtime friend, a doctor, grew up.
Finding a hulking former gym that was in foreclosure helped along with having a limited network of investors that his friend put together (other doctors, a retired fireman, a lawyer). Two of the investors have been very active, with the three of them handling planning and designing. In addition to the general contractor and the subcontractor they’ve hired, Perry says they’re handling some duties—some of the flooring and wiring—themselves.
Perry says most of his daily life is taken up by plumbing and making sure the welders have what they need and that everything is being placed correctly.
“I try to leave around 2-3 o’clock and then stare at the computer for awhile. I have to make sure the TTB is happy,” he says.
His time at Flying Fish supplied him with many vital contacts: suppliers, welders and electricians with experience in breweries, let alone his former coworkers. “It’s really just sales people” that he needs to work on, he says. While he has a Jersey supplier set up, he has to work on a Pennsylvania one, as well building their restaurant and bar connections on both sides of the Delaware once they receive all their approvals.
With his background and all his investors being based there, he currently has more bar and restaurant contacts in New Jersey.
But besides his neighborhood spots in Fishtown, he has the strong support of local brewers.
“Everyone is supportive. I was at the Phillies game yesterday with Tom Kehoe from Yards. He offered to sit down with me and tell me some of the trade secrets as an owner. I was also at the game with the guys from Neshaminy Creek. They’re only about three years old. They offered me some of their troubles and stories to me as well,” he says.
I ask him if he knew he wanted to open a brewery someday while at Flying Fish.
“Absolutely. It’s every brewers dream. Did I really think at the time that I was three years away? No, I did not.”
Then we finished the tour, tracing a U as we rounded the structure. Under the mezzanine we went down a long corridor to reach the former basketball courts at one end of the building—“where we go during downtime,” Perry says—that will eventually be a packaging room. We turned to the right, the baby pleasantly vocal as we reached the site where the cold boxes would stand (despite my hopes they’re to sit upon the filled-in swimming pool).
We walked through the brewery proper, the gleaming fermentation tanks massive sentinels to our right. We climbed to the top of the steel platform surrounding the three tank brewhouse along the back wall and just stared at what Perry had built with a little help from his friends.
[UPDATE: Read the details on the October 24th Grand Opening here.]
[UPDATE 8/20/15: Brewing recently began at Double Nickel. Brewmaster/founder Drew Perry says he is shooting for a mid-to-late September opening for his tasting room. He hopes to hit the market with kegs on 10/1 or 11/1 and to get packaged goods out in 2016.]
more in beer:
–I visited 5 monthly meetings while researching this article on the local home brewing scene for
The Philadelphia Inquirer