When a local real estate developer purchased several old buildings on the old Vint Hill Army Base in Warrenton VA, he decided to turn several of the old units into a Micro Brewery. Craftsman Construction had completed renovating several of the old buildings years before into a local winery (Vint Hill Winery). After talking to the owner of the winery to see if they were happy with the remodel we did for them, Craftsman Construction was contracted to convert the old warehouse space into the new micro brewery. This project was going to be challenging, not only did we have to work on 60 to 80 year old buildings but the project had to be environmentally friendly.
Our first task was to get the brew house built so that all the brewing equipment could be installed and tested. Since breweries use large amounts of water to brew with, as well as sterilize the equipment, a floor drain system had to be installed to efficiently remove all of the excess water. This required cutting 2 trenches into the existing concrete floor and installing linear drains. Next a new concrete floor had to be poured over the old concrete floor with just the right amount of angle to make the water go to the new drains. This was no easy task, as if this was off even a little the water would not run toward the drains and all this effort would be for nothing. After pouring 10 concrete trucks of cement over a 2 day period the floor was ready. Next came getting the new electrical system installed. All the different equipment would need electrical as well as hot water, cold water, CO2 gas, natural gas, refrigerant lines and of course the beer. To efficiently get all these different pipes and wires to their different locations, we designed an overhead rack system to carry everything to the various equipment. Next we had to come up with a way to make the walls of the old warehouse cleanable and water proof. Since the existing walls were corrugated sheet metal and they were pretty grimy, we decided to remove the old metal for the first 4' and replace it with synthetic stucco. The stucco is waterproof and easily cleaned. We then had the rest of the building painted from top to bottom. To keep everything as sanitary as possible, we installed an epoxy coating on the new concrete floor, this would keep bacteria and mold from growing on the surface of the concrete. Now that the interior construction was complete, we turned our attention to the exterior. A large concrete pad was poured at the rear of the building to support the new refrigeration units that would be needed to keep the beer cold during processing. Another large concrete pad was poured on the side of the building to support the grain silo that would be installed. Several concrete ramps were poured to allow the forklifts to come and go.
At this point the equipment started showing up. Even though Craftsman Construction was not contracted to install the equipment, the owner’s men found this task too daunting due to the sheer size and weight of the equipment. My men were up to the challenge and after careful review of the situation; we manhandled the equipment into position without any incident. Now all the utilities had to be installed. The plumber ran the water lines and gas lines, the electrician completed running all the wires to the various equipment, and the 1,000,000 BTU boilers was installed to make unlimited hot water.
It was now time to turn our attention to the warehouse and office space phase of the job. The owner ordered a huge walk in refrigerator that you could drive a fork lift into. This equipment showed up on multiple pallets and had to be assembled in place. After we assembled the refrigerator a huge motorized sliding door had to be installed and wired. All the old lights in the warehouse were removed and high performance LED lighting was installed. The warehouse had several old office spaces that needed removing as well as a set of old bathrooms that had to go. My men demoed the old rooms and new office space and bathrooms were framed in.
Now comes the fun part. We are turning our attention to the oldest building. This is going to be the tasting room and several retail spaces the owner plans to lease. The 1st order of business here is to demo all the old office spaces, electrical lines, heating and cooling equipment, the old duct work, and drop ceilings. This part of the project took 6 large dumpsters to remove all the old debris. The old electrical wiring and metal duct work was recycled. Next step was the task of getting water and sewer into the building. Since this was an old warehouse it didn't have any sewer and water. We had a company come in and saw out 300 feet of concrete trench to make way for the sewer lines. In order to speed up the digging of this trench we rented a mini excavator, but we couldn't get the excavator thru the doorway. After looking things over for a couple of minutes, we came up with a plan to disassemble the excavator and reassemble it inside the building. This worked out great and greatly speeded up the digging of all the trenches to the various bathrooms and kitchen areas. After carefully calculating were all the different pipes needed to go, the plumber came in and tied it all together. Next we poured concrete back into the trenches to make everything even to the existing floors.
Since the old warehouse didn't have any windows, we proceeded to cut out large sections of the exterior walls to make new openings for the windows. This was an incredibly dirty job, as it required us to saw cut through the old cinder block walls.
Since the client was sensitive to the historic nature of the building, every attempt to save as much as we could was made. All the existing wood beams and columns were preserved. Instead of installing new flooring over the old concrete floors, it was decided to grind and polish the existing floors. Grinding and polishing concrete is a specialized task, but Craftsman Construction was up to the challenge. After purchasing several specialized pieces of equipment, we went to work restoring the old concrete floors. After several weeks of grinding and polishing the floors look beautiful. This was a testament to the talent of our crews. The floors shined like glass.
Now we started framing all the partition walls that would make up the different rooms of the building. We had to create space for the kitchen, bathrooms, store rooms, etc. After the framing was complete our subcontractors came in and installed the plumbing, electrical, and mechanical systems.
One of the big features of this project was the use of Geo-Thermal heating and air conditioning. A series of 18 wells were drilled to a depth of 300 feet each under the parking lot. These wells were then tied into the building to form the backbone of the Geo-Thermal System. Greenhill Mechanical was called upon to undertake this project. Not only would this system supply the heating and air-conditioning for the building, it would also be called upon to supply some of the refrigeration requirements of the building.
After all the mechanical systems were installed the walls were insulated and dry walled. A walk in cooler was installed behind the future bar to act as the beer keg storage and beer taps for the bar.
Next came the construction of the bar itself. Since Craftsman Construction is a full service company with many years in the custom millwork business, we built the bar on site with our own crews. The bars construction included the building of a custom walnut top made from lumber that was harvested from fallen trees on the owner’s property. This lumber was sawed up into slabs years earlier and stored in a barn on the owner’s property. Craftsman Construction then milled this lumber on site and glued it together to create the new bar top. The front of the bar was also made from walnut and walnut veneers. A back bar was also built out of walnut to house the Growlers used to sell the beer in. After all the wood was sanded, several coats of specialized catalyzed finish were sprayed on to give years of service.
One of the most challenging aspects of the bar area was the owner’s need that the beer be refrigerated from the inside of the walk in cooler to the very end of the beer taps. This required that the beer traveling thru the walls to get to the taps had to be refrigerated as well. After some deliberation with the brew master, a plan was formed to cut out the wall of the walk in cooler and then reframe the wall in such a way, as to extend the refrigeration all the way to the tap heads. My lead carpenter took this challenge on and cut out the side of the cooler, then reframed it then reinsulated the walls and installed custom fabricated metal to match the existing cooler seamlessly. We installed a stainless steel backdrop behind the beer taps, and then installed the taps themselves. The brew master then designed a system of piping to get the beer to flow to the different taps.
While the finish crews wrapped up the interior work, there was still one major hurdle to go. The construction of the beer garden. This was to be an exterior space that customers could go outside and relax enjoying their craft beers. Earlier we had poured the concrete to create the foundation for this structure. The architect had come up with a design using heavy timbers to create a lattice structure. Also, an area was to be created in front of the front door that would be roofed. Four large concrete columns were formed and poured to create the support for the roof system. Then four large cedar beams were installed to create the backbone of the roof system. This was then used to install more cedar roof framing to support the metal roof. The design was extremely tricky and required the use of old world techniques of hand chiseling all the different pieces together. Again my lead carpenter took control of this and produced spectacular results. Custom skylights constructed in the field were installed as well.
Next came the installation of the lattice system that would provide shade to customers sitting on the patio. This system included large cedar beams and cedar columns bolted together with custom fabricate metal brackets. After all the beams were installed, a series of cedar 2x4’s were installed to create the shade.
On preopening day the owner thru a party for all involved and praised Craftsman Construction and its fabulous crew of highly skilled men for a fantastic job done. This was a great project and we are proud to be associated with it.