Here's what Andrew had to say about the brewery progress: "We are in full build out mode. Our cooler will be installed tomorrow (now today) along with most of our trenching. We will pour new concrete next week and install our Big Ass Fan. Right now it’s all the boring but necessary stuff. Boiler, RO Water filter, chilled water piping, epoxy coating for floor etc."
About the next steps in getting up and running: "Next week Harvey is headed up to Upland to pick up a DE filter we bought from them. Soon after, we are all headed to Portland to sign off on the system before it ships. Between now and then we might have finished can designs to share..."
And of course I asked when they were hoping to be in production mode: "Our goal is to have draft beer to market by Halloween. That’s pretty aggressive but we are working like crazy to make it happen."
I have to agree that Halloween is aggressive, but their brewhouse is coming soon, and it sounds like the building will be ready for it. They have an experienced brewer and it's entirely possible they can make it happen. They are even working ahead on the can designs for label approval, so the team at Great Raft seems to have their ducks in a row.
One of the biggest points, that I didn't actually ask about, was that Great Raft is planning on canning their craft beer. After losing a handful of bottles on the way back from the Conference, this makes me happy. I'm becoming more and more of a fan of canned craft beer... I don't think there is a huge taste/flavor factor, but cans can go places that bottles can't, and they are lighter and safer for transporting. Andrew outlined many of the reasons they decided to go for cans in a blog post in late 2012.
Their Ermahgerd Hops Double IPA was one of my favorites from WYES, so I know that Great Raft has the potential for some awesome beers. Cheers to Louisiana Craft Beer! Here's to 8 breweries (or maybe more...) by 2014!