A Wicked brew enbiggens the smallest drinker

I usually drive through Jacksonville, FL on my way to and from South, South Georgia for work.  Unfortunately, I tend to find myself either traveling with others that just want to get home or traveling by myself in the middle of a weekday and find that no breweries near by are open.  However, on this occasion Mrs. UsedHair and I decided to make a drive up to Jacksonville to check out their zoo.  And… it’s never a hard sell to get her to stop in at a brewery after we drive somewhere new.  So, I did some searching on Google Maps and on the way back we stopped at Wicked Barley.

Wicked Brewing now open sign

As I mentioned in a previous post, I had made the mistake of stumbling onto a new brewery that had not yet started serving their own beer.  My first hint of trouble was the “Now Open” sign.  But…  did that really detract from my experience at this brewery?  Hell no.  They had 20 taps of other excellent beer, several of which I had never had before.  So, no harm no foul.

Wicked Barley tap list

In addition, they also had some incredible food.  At that point, how can you go wrong.  I write these posts a bit out of order sometimes, so this was actually the very first time I got to play around with my 360 degree camera.

At Wicked Barley in Jacksonville, playing with the 360 camera. Keep an eye out for a video on the blog. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

I also walked around with the regular camera and checked out the cool art work.

Wicked Barley art

The staff there were awesome, and let me wander around the taproom taking 360 video and then let me wander around the brewing area taking yet more 360 video.  It was an awesome first experience with the new camera.

So, what started out as a bit of a disappointment because I couldn’t get a bottle, can, or growler, turned into a success because I got to walk around a brewing area and play with my new toy.

Designed with your mind in mind

I would hope that those who know me well think that I am a rather “unique” individual with some fairly creative ideas when I put my mind to it. In addition, I’m fairly confident that those who know me well understand that deep down in my core, I’m a cheap bastard. Together these particular less-than-super powers led me to decide that I needed a really big set of shelving to hold all my DVDs, and that I didn’t want to go out and spend a lot of money on what is essentially a bunch of slabs of wood (have you seen the price of shelving? Ridiculous).  So, I put my big boy creative pants on and started thinking how I could put together some shelving that might tie in with beer and save some money.

As I mentioned, shelves are just slabs of wood with some posts that hold them apart.  Puzzling that bad boy out, the idea came to me that the posts that hold the slabs of wood apart in shelving don’t necessarily have to be more wood. They can be anything. What do I have a lot of? Well, beer bottles of course. But, I was worried that bottles themselves might not be sturdy enough to support all that weight. And, I don’t have many duplicates on bottles that I would be willing to sacrifice if the idea didn’t work out well.  You know, another item made of glass that looks sturdy as all heck are pint glasses. And I also have a metric ass-ton of those (some of which are duplicates, or ones I’m willing to sacrifice). Thus, the journey began. However, I KNOW that those who know me well understand that I’m not much of makey kind of person and I’m absolutely not anything resembling a carpenter. So, I had to figure out a way to make the shelves such that minor things like “precision” and “quality” would not show over much.

First, I had to make sure the idea would work at all. I took 7 1 x 6 boards (wide enough to hold DVDs) and stacked them on top of three disposable pint glasses in the back yard figuring that most of the weight is not coming from the DVDs, but rather the wood. I left them for a day and they did not break. Good enough for me (remember that precision and quality are minor things to me). It was time to start production proper. So, I sanded and painted the shelves and left them to dry in my office (as I don’t have a garage).

Shelves drying in the office

Next up, I had to create something to make the pint glass posts tall enough (they are a few inches shorter than DVDs). Fortunately, I have a bunch of scrap 1 x 4s left over from building the shelving for bottles. I turned those into wood blocks and Mrs. UsedHair painted them all sorts of funky colors for me.

Painted wood blocks
More funky colored wood blocks

The next few steps involved lots of epoxy. I glued the wood blocks together in batches of three, making sure to stagger them so that odd angles and child-like construction would seem “part of the design”.

Epoxied wood blocks

Once the blocks were together, I epoxied the blocks to the pint glasses, again alternating putting them on the tops or bottoms of the glasses to keep the design a bit “hectic”.

Wood blocks epoxied to glasses

The next step was where the real fun began.  Gluing glasses and blocks to the shelving itself, first had to occur one shelf at at time.

Each shelf with glasses and blocks

Then I was able to stack them into sets of two or three shelves.  So far the process has consisted of lots of applying epoxy and tons of waiting for things to dry.

Double layers of shelves

Along the way I learned some lessons and managed to put the worst epoxy jobs on the bottom shelf.

Epoxied blocks and glass not even close to the center of the shelf

But then the big moment arrived and I was able to epoxy and stack the whole kit-n-kaboodle.  I even thought to put some straps across the back of the shelving to maintain lateral support (however, I misjudged the “center” of the shelves so the point where the strapping meets in the “middle” is horribly aligned).

Shelving fully constructed

I don’t think it turned out half bad considering I hardly ever actually “build” anything.  And once I got the DVDs on there, you can’t really see the crappy strapping job at all.

Completed shelving with DVDs

Looks like I made a little too much shelving.  Guess I’ll have to by more DVDs now.

Pair up enough and you’ll make a Mechazord!

OK younglings.  I’m pretty excited about this brewery visit because the brewery itself is so unique on a few different levels.  I first heard about Broken Cauldron Taproom way back when Mrs. UsedHair and I went to the DeLand Craft Beer Festival last year.  What’s so special about Broken Cauldron?

Post from RICOH THETA. #theta360 – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Broken Cauldron Taproom

It’s two, two, two breweries in one!

Broken Cauldron Sign

On my trip to Broken Cauldron, I talked with Ken and Jeanna Malines about how it all got started.  As it turns out Jeanna and Ken were actively working to open a brewery called Black Cauldron Brewing and generally having a hard time with all of the hassles that new breweries have to deal with (licencing horror stories are pretty common in the industry).  Meanwhile some other brewers in Central Florida were trying to create a brewery called Broken Strings Brewery and having the same problems.  In the true, almost anti-competition, nature of craft brewing all of the brewers decided that it would be best if they worked together and shared each others challenges and successes.  So, Broken Cauldron Taproom has beer that is brewed by Black Cauldron and beer that is brewed by Broken Strings.  Brilliant!

Ken filled me in a little more on why that approach works so well.  Opening a craft brewery takes a metric ass-ton of work.  Most people that decide to do so can’t really “quit their day job” until the brewery is not only up and running, but also profitable.  We’re talking a time scale of years here.  Ken said that they seriously started the process about 14 months ago. At the time, they thought they would be open last November.  But, they were actually able to open June 4th.  Now they are facing the “becoming profitable” portion of the journey.  However, with 4 people (2 from Black Cauldron and 2 from Broken Strings) available and 100% dedicated, they can get all the work done themselves and not have to worry yet about supporting staff (on top of all of the other costs involved).  And they might even be able to have some sort of semblance of a life outside of the brewery.  In addition, because each pair of brewers has unique brewing styles and preferred beers, each pair of brewers is able to spend more time focusing on brewing styles of beer that they really want to brew rather than spend much of their time brewing just what they think will bring in customers.  Their individual styles cover the gambit from Belgians to sours to IPA, etc. that will already please most crowds.

One more way that I found Broken Cauldron to be unique is that the setup is not just a collaboration between Black Cauldron and Broken Strings, it’s also a collaboration between Jeanna and Ken.  And I don’t just mean that Ken brews the beer and Jeanna runs the taproom.  They collaborate all the way with Jeanna (according to Ken) being the really creative force behind the recipes for the beers.  So many collaborations under one roof!

Let’s take a gander around the place.  To start, the walls are covered with cool art featuring music legends that have passed away.

Broken Cauldron art
More Broken Cauldron art

In addition, they have a great mural dedicated to the Pulse tragedy.

Pulse mural

And they have a little art floating around the door to the brewing equipment.

Brew House entrance

So, because we can, let’s take do a 360 video walk through of the place.

Finally. A special treat for anyone dedicated enough to read all the way to the end.  Ken takes us on a 360 video tour of the brewing area and talks about an upcoming brewery that we might see cropping up in the Sanford area and tells us how Broken Cauldron plans to be involved in yet more collaborations.