Tom Ayers and three of his buddies were all homebrewers. They would meet to discuss the finer things in life — with beer mugs in hand, of course. Sharing a strong love for small-batch brewing, one of these friends, Brian Mathias, approached Ayers about starting a brewery. During a planning stage that lasted one year, the four agreed (Ryan Romer-Jordan and Greg Dannemiller rounding out the quartet) to launch Ill Mannered Brewing Co. but cautiously decided to keep their day jobs until the business was firmly established.
The four entrepreneurs realized they needed some financial help, so they raised much-needed funds with an exclusive event that also provided a unique opportunity to recognize contributors. Partnering with a local glass blower, each event attendee was treated to a one-of-a-kind glass mug and to their first Ill Mannered drink for free. The mugs are now proudly displayed in the brewery for members of the Groundbreakers Club to easily find and use each time they visit. Cool idea, right?
Even cooler: They run a 3-barrel all electric brewery that’s produced some 60 different beers recipes for sale. Along with innovative beer, Ill Mannered has become well known for giving clever names to its brews. Its flagship brand — a fruity, well balanced IPA called Powell, Right in the Kisser — quickly became a crowd favorite.
“I like all of them. They are like your children,” Ayers said. “It’s hard to pick a favorite, but I’m slightly partial to a Belgian we named Fat Bottomed Girl.”
In fact, Ill Mannered has a lot of children. Sometimes, the craft brewery will sell 30 of the more popular brews in high businesses months that run in both summer and winter.
“In the summer, we focus on pales and blonde shandies,” said Ayers, noting they take a lot of pride in their seasonal brews. “We use the winter months to really experiment with flavors such as darks and barleywines.”
This continual beer cycle and those aforementioned clever events has Ill Mannered Brewing expanding to a new 3,000-sq-ft facility. That’s good news, but it comes with some challenges. The response to the brewery has been so overwhelming that after six months Ayers began working for Ill Mannered full-time as the “chief mad man” and head brewer. It didn’t take long for the group to realize their 1,000-sq-ft space was too small. By May 2016, they were looking for a new home but couldn’t find anything that met their needs. In passing, their current landlord mentioned wanting to build on the green space near the existing structure. The guys jumped on his offer and began planning the expansion.
The expansion is taking longer to complete because of permits, planning and zoning boards, but a shovel and about 40 of its biggest fans witnessed the groundbreaking of Ill Mannered Brewing’s latest 3,000-sq-ft project this year in February. For that expansion project, Ill Mannered needed a quality infrastructure to build a bigger and better foundation for its business. As part of that plan, the brewhouse turned to Trench Drain Systems for a cool product called the Polycast 600.
“Our current set up is terrible. It’s plastic, cracked, isn’t sloped very well and drains very slow,” Ayers lamented. “This new system has a U set up that allows all of the fermenters to face inwards without slowing down production. Not only will it speed up our current production, but there’s plenty of room for growth.”
Wait, what’s Polycast?
Polycast is a unique blend of vinyl ester resin and concrete that’s ideal for the brewing industry. When making craft beers, there is a lot of heat and chemicals involved in the brewing process. You need a drain that can hold up to the harsh conditions. Other materials can break down, crack or even melt due to the high temperatures of the runoff. Also, Polycast is a more economical choice for drainage channels compared to stainless steel.
Polycast 600 was selected by Don Kirkham from Kirkham Building Solutions Inc. He had searched online and found that Trench Drain Systems provided the most information about draining solutions for the brewing industry. Chris Lawler and Blake Tayerle from Emergency Plumbing Service installed the channel. Although they’d not used a suspended trench drain before, the installers completed the drain installation in preparation for the next two phases: a first concrete pour to keep the channel stabilized and a second to complete the floor. The duo installed a total of 40 ft when it was all said and done.
“It’s a pretty stout system,” Lawler said.
Cramped quarters meant that Ill Mannered Brewing only had production space for 400 bbls of its equipment’s 500-bbl capacity. Though production will slow as operations move between the two facilities, Ayers said that once they are up and running in August he anticipates hitting the 500-bbl mark this year with the potential to double that in the next two years. Trench Drain Systems is pretty proud to have a small but important part in helping Ill Mannered achieve that kind of growth.
Kristie Pohlman is the inbound marketing manager at Trench Drain Systems. Trench Drain Systems is a leading supplier of channel and trench drain from the top manufacturers in the drainage industry. They carry drainage systems in a broad range of channel materials such as steel, concrete, fiberglass, HDPE, polymer concrete and cast iron. Visit trenchdrainsystems.com for more information.