When you undertake the buildout of a brewery, it can be quite an ordeal to say the least. I think it may not be well understood how much planning and coordination and frankly, exposure to risk it is trying to bring beer to market can be. As previously noted, we started writing a business plan 3 years ago, started looking for property, and began scrounging money from our closest friends and family. We found our current location quite a while ago, concurrently explored some other opportunities, and returned to sign and make it happen because Costa Mesa is really where we wanted to be. One of our founders worked in this building on Randolph Ave previously, and we had tried to make it our home from the beginning. Anyway, months fly by as you await permitting, that is, conditional use permits, construction permits, inspections, fees, federal licenses, and state licensing. It is quite easy to run out of time and money, bleeding out before you get to brew a batch. Sadly, that is bureaucracy for you. Something is seriously wrong with the system, but I think most people already agree with that. It is also a reason why small artisan and independent brewers feel like the deck is stacked against them when compared to the sheer size, strength, and capital of mass produced brands. It is difficult to do this, and those who take it on hope that consumers are watching and paying attention to the practices of the big guys, while supporting those who are trying to bring fresher, more unique beer close to your area. The good news is that we are on the precipice of bringing you through the doors at our humble beer-making facility.
Early on we tapped Hauck Architecture for our plans, whose experience of 40+ breweries over the last 4 years was unrivaled. We have wrapped up construction, and now are putting final touches on the taproom. refining what was already a pretty cool building into a "damn handsome" one.
We wanted to do all the work on the build out of our space and the launching of our brand ourselves. That is not a knock on hiring firms, or general contractors, or paying others to do what one does not have experience doing. We simply are proud to say that for the most part, we have done it that way due to the skills our team has. Outside of some necessary legal needs, we tapped our friends for crucial knowledge, and then rolled up our sleeves to make things happen. Our co-founder JT Wallace, is quite the talented hombre when it comes to construction and engineering. We all pitched in ideas, rendered them, battled them out. One of the values of the Gunwhale brand is about being self-reliant. We see ourselves as makers, creative and technical, and in the end....willing to be quick learners and putting a hand-made touch on things. We did our own demolition, rebar, concrete, framing, tiling, glycol unit, draft system, lighting, painting, artwork, ...the works. Having our Head Brewer Derek Testerman on-site was invaluable throughout this process. We are also thankful to have grabbed help on a few important jobs like plumbing and refrigeration, because, by jove if your beer ain't fresh and cold, then all the rest of this is pointless.
We also partnered with our friend Old Hand Cole...who is a talented designer and furniture maker to bring that extra edge to make your faces melt and your asses when we open the doors. What can we say, other than that we have a champagne taste, but a beer budget to get it done with. JT had been collecting in his garage for two plus years stacks of wood, trinkets, and antiques at a rate that could battle the best of hoarders. We have broken down that wood, planed it, cut it, painted it and put it back together in places like the ceilings, the bar, the walls, etc. We hope you will appreciate the transformation. Back to our design guy....Gentry Cole is an old friend whose know how in furniture design and whose artistic prowess is only surpassed by his willingness to sleep on a cot in the brewery between long days of construction.
Since I am an artist, we have tackled all our design needs in house as well and will continue to reveal a steady flow of sharp looking labels and merchandise, including some stellar Crowler cans for you take away full of fresh suds on your first visit to the taproom. It has been a ton of work, and huge sense of pride to begin to share it. I wanted to thank you all for following along with our project, the outpouring of anticipation is great, especially when we have been slow to share it all. I am going to let these photos tell some of the story of what we have been up to, without giving too much away. Keep following closely for news of our opening!
- Co-Founder, Bobby Fitzgerald