From Home Brew to Nanobrew: Tin Cannon Brewing Company to Open in Gainesville
Posted by Editorial / Wednesday, August 6th, 2014
Owners Aaron Ludwig (left) and John Hilkert (right) / Photo Courtesy of Tin Cannon Brewing Company
By Allison Michelli
“You get a lot of great ideas while you’re drinking beer,” says John Hilkert, who credits the creation of their forthcoming Tin Cannon Brewing Company while chatting with Aaron Ludwig over drinks. The two friends started in beer-making as recreational home brewers (Ludwig for eight years and Hilkert for four) and first tossed around the idea of opening their own brewery two years ago.
After Ludwig received Dan Woodske’s “A Brewer’s Guide to Opening a Nano Brewery: Your $10,000 Brewery Consultant for $15″ as a Christmas present, their idea moved from drunk conversation to buzzed reality. Hilkert says, “We continued to develop the whole business plan over brew sessions including where we would be located, what would be our name and what kind of beers we would make.”
Gainesville seemed like the perfect place to open their brewery. “It’s a good population, there is money here and people here that are interested in craft beer,” says Ludwig. “When we started off we wanted to be in Haymarket but their zoning [laws] didn’t allow for it and you could go apply for special use permits but that costs a lot of money and takes a lot of time. Hilkert explains that in Prince William County, brewery and bottling facilities are categorized as heavy industrial (zone M1), which explains why their small operation is located in an industrial park. Another perk of their location is being less than a mile from Jiffy Lube Live, “people going to the shows can stop here and have some beer,” Hilkert says. From there it is less than a 10 minute walk to the venue which beats waiting and paying $12 dollars for a beer at the show.
The operation will start out with a two-barrel system that can brew up to 62 gallons of beer at a time. In the future they have hopes of upgrading to a 10-barrel system which will allow them to not only sell directly to customers, but also bottle beer and distribute it to restaurants and retails stores.
Hilkert says that they are going for a “rustic industrial” theme for the taproom and the brewery space. Details will include galvanized steel, aged wood, open ceilings, soft lighting and a color palate of brown and orange. “Our personalities are kind of laid back. We’re not looking to have some upscale, uppity place. We want a place where it is comfortable and fun for people to just taste some beers,” Ludwig says.
The front taproom will feature seating for 40 people, plus additional seating at the L-shaped bar. Behind the bar will be a cold room (similar to a walk-in freezer) that will store the kegs that are attached through the wall to the taps. Hilkert explains that storing the kegs this way will make it easier for them to swap out when they become empty. Starting out, the brewery will only be open on the weekends so Hilkert and Ludwig can continue working at their full-time jobs.
Flagship beers will include a blonde ale, a Bavarian wheat ale, a peanut butter porter, an IPA and various other seasonal and experimental flavors like a bacon-chipotle pale ale, which they’re testing recipes for now.
Tin Cannon will launching a Kickstarter campaign later this month to raise $15,000 to fund additional aspects of the build out with hopes of a November opening. / Tin Cannon Brewing Company, 7679 Limestone Drive, Unit 130, Gainesville
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Tags: Aaron Ludwig, Allison Michelli, Gainesville, John Hilkert, nanobrewery, Tin Cannon Brewing Company