When we set our initial opening date, we set it 3 and half weeks after our brewing system was supposed to arrive. We needed a date to schedule our bands, our food providers, and to allow everyone enough time to plan to come and purchase tickets. Unfortunately all of that was still based on our brewing system arriving on time. As it turns out, our system has been delayed until March 10th.
Part of the reason for the delay is the nature of our system. We looked at several less custom-made, pre-assembled and easier to obtain systems. However, all of these systems use Chinese made components. I do not have a problem with Chinese made items by any means. Our hats were made in China, embroidered in South Carolina, some of our t-shirts have been made in China, printed in Chapel Hill. Many of the stock items that we have used in our construction have Chinese origins. Just to clear up that I’m not completely against all things made in China.
However, I do have an issue with items of this size, this intricacy, this level of importance to the core product that we are producing being incongruent with the rest of our philosophy. By that I mean that when we ask you to purchase a Steel String craft beer, we are asking you to make a choice to purchase a locally made, higher quality product. That means our product is more expensive, takes longer to make, and is not as consistent from batch to batch. But we offer a product that is higher quality, fresher, with more interesting ingredients, made by a company more committed to your community.
We at Steel String felt like we should make that same choice as often as possible, but especially in anything to do with the creation of our beer. This of course includes ingredients (we are going to be using some amount of local ingredients in every beer, whether that is Riverbend malt, locally grown hops starting in October, locally roasted (across the street) coffee, or local adjuncts such as honey or herbs or nuts) but we also feel that includes the system that we brew all of our local beer on.
So, we ordered a system from Marks Metal Works, which is made with 100% American steel, 100% American labor and 100% American design. It is hand crafted in Vacouver, WA, and will be making its way to our Brewery as soon as one more piece arrives. The v-wire screen for our mash tun. Yes, it all came down to that final piece. But, that’s the nature of going with a product made by a smaller business. We knew when we purchased a system from Marks that they were doing things at such a small scale, and had been open for such a short amount of time that this kind of thing could happen. But when it did happen, it did not make me regret choosing this system because I had made a choice that was in line with all of the principles of our business.
When this system gets finished, I can be proud of showing it off during tours, and of telling people where it came from. I can be proud that every hand-crafted, carefully made ounce of wort that comes out of the heat exchanger is exiting a hand-crafted, carefully made system. There will be a harmony in our production process that will make this minor bummer of rescheduling our opening well worth it.
So, to our customers who are looking forward to our opening party, the bands that we had scheduled and to anyone who is looking forward to tasting our beer, I certainly apologize. It will be slightly longer than we anticipated. But, when we finally get that glass in front of you, we promise you a great product made by a great company that cares about our community and our customers. And, if that isn’t solace enough, here’s an awesome picture of our system being built in Washington State.