Paul Pedersen writes a monthly column on Tucson's beer scene.
Stainless steel. Lots of stainless steel.
That's what you see when you walk into Barrio Brewing's almost-finished brewing facility. The new custom brewery was designed by owner Dennis Arnold based on his 25 years in the business.
A Victoria, British Columbia, fabricator made the equipment, much of it made especially for Barrio. The brewery is in the existing Barrio building, 800 E. 16th St.
Imagine changing directly from a 1980s brick-sized cellphone to the iPhone 5. That's how Arnold feels as he gets ready to open the new facility.
Arnold said it was time to "go backward or go forward" and that the 1995 system he was using was "not up to task." The old system could not meet the demand for his beers.
The existing system produces 4,000 barrels (about 31 gallons to a barrel). The new system will produce 10,000 barrels and can be expanded to 40,000 barrels.
Barrio will begin canning beer in mid-April. The canning room, with its Rube Goldberg-esque canning line, will be visible from the bar area. Arnold refers to the line as the "'Laverne & Shirley' work center" after the TV show in which the main characters worked as bottle cappers in a Milwaukee brewery.
Arnold designed the brewery with safety, ergonomics and "idiot proofing" as guiding principles. For example, he's installed "cascading controls" that require the brewing steps to be done in the proper sequence. Try to do a step out of sequence and the controls will not allow it.
He found a company that would make glass doors (about 18 inches by 18 inches) rather than the usual steel for the tanks. This allows the brewer to see what's going on in a tank without having to open the door and disturb the process.
A 40 percent reduction in energy costs will be realized in the new facility. Heat exchangers, for example, will take the heat from cooling beer and use it to heat water for the next batch. Spent grain goes to ranchers to feed cows and pigs.
Arnold is a hands-on owner. During a tour of the facility, he picked up a wrench to work on a jammed filter machine.
Not only will Barrio be making more beer for Tucson, they're hiring two new brewers. More beer, adding jobs: great way to do business.
Craft Brewers Guild sets spring festival
The Arizona Craft Brewers Guild is sponsoring Springfest Beer Festival, 1-5 p.m. April 20 at Rillito Regional Park, 4502 N. First Ave.
A similar festival has been held in Phoenix for 13 years. This is the guild's first in Tucson. The guild represents 30 microbreweries around the state.
More information is available at facebook.com/SpringfestAZ
Contact Paul Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org