Recently touring a well-worn, 1920s-vintage brick building in Elkins, WV, it was fun imagining the brewery it will become.
“We already put a new roof on it,” said Matt Kwasniewski, head brewer and partner at Big Timber Brewing Company. “We insulated the ceiling and stripped a lot of paint off the walls. Now, we’re going to bust out the floor.”
The floor they are removing in the main room of the building encompasses 5,400 square feet, says brewery partner Sam Mauzy.
A lot of work lies ahead as the Big Timber owners conduct a head-to-toe renovation of the facility that will become their new brewery. Big Timber is currently located in a much smaller building a few blocks away.
Once the old concrete floor is removed, they’ll put in new water and sewerage lines, install trench drains, spread crushed stone, insulate the floor and install radiant floor heating pipes. Then, a fresh concrete floor will be poured.
It gets cold in Elkins in the winter and Kwasniewski says the radiant heat should keep them comfortable on even the coldest of days.
Once the new floor is complete, overhead raceways will be installed that will contain electric lines. A cold storage room and glycol chillier unit will be built in.
Upon completion, the main production room will contain the brewhouse, fermenters, cold storage room, and packaging equipment.
Mauzy says the total square footage of the building is about 7,200 sq. ft. With 5,400 sq. ft. used for production space, the rest will become storage, office, lab, milling room, and boiler room. All that space is being completely renovated as well.
Big Timber expansion completion set for year end
Prior to Big Timber purchasing the building, it had been used as a WV Department of Transportation shop. The building was originally constructed in the 1920s as a steam laundry. Big Timber will reuse the old boiler room for their boiler equipment.
“We decided to go with a stream system because its safer and more efficient,” Kwasniewski says.
When the new facility opens, the tankage capacity will be 450 barrels. That still leaves them plenty of room to grow, the owners say. They estimate that the production space could hold fermentation tanks totaling up to around 2,000 barrels. At their current brewery they have 180.
As brewery production increases, having a laboratory for quality assurance becomes increasingly important. Big Timber will have that in their new building.
For a completion date, they say they would love to have the project done by the end of this year.
When the new facility opens, the fermentation tankage capacity will be 450 barrels. That still leaves them plenty of room to grow, the owners say. They estimate that the production space could hold fermentation tanks totaling up to around 2,000 barrels. At their current brewery they have 180.
Initially, they will move their current 15-barrel brewhouse to the new facility. As sales grow, they would likely purchase and install a larger-capacity brewhouse. Down the road, they could also require additional tank space in the main production room. To free up space, they would build a separate packaging and cold storage building adjacent to the main building and move the kegs and cans over there.
New taproom in Phase 2
In a second phase of development scheduled for next year, the Big Timber owners will construct a large taproom at the new brewery. This will likely take the form of an expansion attached to the brewery building. They will also renovate a large concrete pad and a small green space beside the brewery and turn it into an outdoor beer garden. The space sits right on the riverbank and will offer a great view and atmosphere.
With the new brewery located on Davis Avenue just four blocks south of the center of downtown Elkins, it should be a little easier for people to find and get to. Until the new taproom opens, Big Timber’s current taproom will remain in operation.
Imagining just how all this will look by a year from now is sure to bring a smile to WV beer fans’ faces. I know we’ll all be wanting to make more trips to Elkins when the project is completed.
It’s encouraging to hear that the guys have big plans for Big Timber. Any way you look at it, Big Timber is making a major investment in the future of West Virginia craft beer.