write-up in the daily breeze

A write-up in today's Daily Breeze:

"Ale brewery gets Torrance Planning Commission OK"

Ale brewery gets Planning Commission approval: Torrance will soon be home to a third brewery specializing in craft ales.

The Planning Commission on Wednesday unanimously approved a permit that will allow a small, independent brewery called Monkish Brewing Co. to operate out of a space at an industrial park on Western Avenue just south of Del Amo Boulevard.

While the 11,180-square-foot brewery is a permitted use in an industrial zone, a conditional-use permit was necessary because owner Henry Nguyen also intends to operate a tasting room open to the public on-site.

Bottled beer will be sold at the tasting room.

The Manhattan Beach resident and long- time home brewer became enamored with Belgian-style ales, which traditionally were often brewed by monks, while studying for his doctorate in theology in Europe.

He plans to produce six to eight similar beers that will rotate seasonally out of the "experimental" brewery. Nguyen hopes the brewery will open its doors this September.

Torrance is also home to the small Strand Brewing Co., which is not open to the public and sells its draft ales to local pubs, as well as the Red Car Brewery and Restaurant, which has chugged along in Old Torrance for more than a decade.

- Nick Green


CUP approved

This evening we had our public hearing at the City of Torrance for our Conditional Use Permit to have a tasting room at the brewery. It was unanimously approved!! This is an important hurdle to overcome. We have an out-clause in our lease in case the CUP is not approved. So we are now committed to this property (20311 S. Western Ave. Torrance 90501).

I was quite nervous. And with one question asked by the planning commission, I wasn't sure of the "right" answer so I gave a very long-winded answer. Oh well! I had my reasons. Regardless, it was approved!!

update: plans submitted. equipment ordered

I am realizing that I am too busy from meeting my lofty goals of blogging often. Since my last update, I purchased my brewing equipment  (i've never made such a large transaction before). I ordered a 15bbl system (1 barrel = 31 gallons). Originally I was thinking that I could only afford a 5bbl system with double-sized fermenters (10bbl), but I found I possibly might be able to scrape together enough for a 10bbl system. Then as I was getting closer to purchasing it, I decided that I might be able to take the risk and purchase the 15bbl system (hoping that I could cut costs somewhere -- perhaps in the construction of the brewery). The 15bbl scenario is the wiser choice of the three options. I've heard and read so much about the challenges of making a profit with a system less than 15bbl (despite the success stories of small ventures in the nanobrewery model). The choice from 5 to 7 to 10 to 15 barrels is like buying an Apple product. You can keep do the "it's only $50 more" to buy the next size up until you just $50 more all the way to $300 more from where you wanted to begin. Take that and add a few zeros and higher degrees of anxiety, then you get the task of purchasing brewery equipment.

Today, I submitted my plans to the City of Torrance for a plan check. I think the bewery layout looks good. I also was told that we might have our hearing for the Conditional Use Permit next month. Hopefully our timing of pushing these two applications simultaneouly will work out. Neil Rubenstein of Rubenstein Architects derserves a big THANK YOU for his helpful services in all this. This is his second brewery project, so I'd recommend him to anyone interested in such an endeavor.

I also switched the web hosting from the free temporary to – which unfortunately is not free, but is a better system for what I want to do and one with which I am familiar.

Next up: introduce myself to the tenants, ABC paperwork, TTB paperwork...


submitted CUP application.

Today we submitted our Conditional Use Permit (CUP) application with the City of Torrance. This is probably our first milestone in moving forward from a dream to a reality.

The CUP application is for a tasting room -- for patrons to visit the brewery and taste our beers. A brewery is listed as a permitted use for the zoning of the property we will be leasing, but a CUP is needed for having on-premise retail sales.

The City of Torrance's planning dept. has been very helpful. I have learned that having prelimiary dialogue about your project and goals with the planning dept of the City in which you are interested is important. Prior to Torrance, I dealt with other cities' planning dept later on in the process and it was not that helpful. I could have saved time if I talked to them early on. By having early communication you can gauge the City's interest in supporting your business and also to know what could work or not -- regardless of how you might interpret the municipal code or think it will work in your favor. In addition, whether your proposed use is permitted or not in the Code, you can talk to the City's people and find out if they would be supportive of such a project.