Blog, Construction

The Rise of the Queen City’s Craft Brew Industry

March 14, 2016

After riding the wave of the recession, we at VP Engineering have been privileged to experience the growth of construction and building in our region, and, in particular, here in Charlotte.  An unexpected yet wonderful offshoot of this growth is the rise of the Queen City’s Craft Brew industry.

A boom in craft brewing.

Since Olde Mecklenburg Brewery started just over 6 years ago, Charlotte has become a regional mecca for craft brewing and garnered national attention as far west as Washington State. Currently, Charlotte has just over 20 breweries with an equal number in various stages of pre-opening.

One brewery that wisely recognized this trend early-on was Birdsong Brewery. Originally located in a 4,500-square-foot at 2315 North Davidson Street and started in December of 2011, Birdsong recently relocated to a new facility.  Their new digs at 1016 N. Davidson St. is more than triple the size of the original brewery.  VP was proud to have worked alongside Watts Leaf Architects to turn an old Mitchum potato chip factory into Birdsong’s new taproom and brewery.

The evolution of brewing.

Brewing has come a long way since its discovery 7,000 years ago in Mesopotamia.  Brewers no longer ferment beer in large clay jars and use wood fires to heat the mash. They have graduated to stainless steel brew kettles and steam boilers.

Today we enjoy the libations in cool beer gardens and tap rooms surrounded by our friends instead of on the hot plains of Mesopotamia looking out for wild animals.  Modern breweries are either new or refurbished industrial buildings with offices, brew floors and tap rooms.

MEP meets the brewing industry.

Talking about MEP design can, admittedly, be a little boring, but if we’ve done our job right, you’ll never even know we did anything at all!  MEP design for breweries is a mix of office, restaurant, storage and industrial design.

Mechanical engineering creates systems that are designed to provide a comfortable environment while meeting the different outside air requirements of the various use areas.  Electrical engineering constructs systems which are sized to accommodate the design loads and, if the brewer is ambitious, any future expansion loads.  Lighting in the brew areas need to be bright while lighting in the tap room is more subdued.  The water service needs to be large enough to supply bathrooms, kitchens and the brew process while allowing for washdown of the equipment.

Our success as design engineers rests on the user’s satisfaction.  People want the lights to work when the switch is flipped and the AC to run when it’s hot.

It pays to trust the experts.

When it comes to MEP design, we are experts in our field.  When it comes to the beer, we leave that to the other experts: Birdsong Brewery.  So, next time you’re enjoying a Birdsong Jalapeno Pale Ale, let’s cheers to how lucky we are to be living in the new craft brew mecca of the South. A place where someone thought to combine two of God’s greatest gifts: beer and jalapenos.  How cool is that?