When it came to discussing “must haves” for the taproom, at the top of the list was a wood burning fireplace…or two.
It’s hard to beat the ambience that a real fireplace on those chilly days and evenings can create. Imagine a cold Friday in January when you’ve left work and the sun is setting. You decide to meet a couple friends or a partner out for a drink and a bite to eat. Now imagine if that drink was a delicious Belgian tripel, a rich milk stout, or a complex sour red ale that could be enjoyed right where it was brewed. What if you could enjoy that with amazing company, next to a roaring fire, with a couple of fresh baked, home-made hand pies? A taproom filled with warmth, the smell of a smoldering fire, and the scent of savory pastries is what we envision for a typical winter evening at Fine Creek Brewing.
In our effort to have a taproom that isn’t just appealing on the days with beautiful weather, we knew a fireplace would be this first step. We also knew that the only thing better than a wood burning fireplace inside is adding one to the outside deck as well. Obviously this would add a significant amount to the building costs but given how important we felt it was, we decided we would do whatever it took to keep this cost down to make it a possibility. This has included splitting and stockpiling our own wood from trees taken down during site prep to the most recent exhaustive exercise of gathering stones for the chimney. A normal building site may not have the opportunity to source all the stone needed for a chimney this large, but this is no ordinary building site!
Fine Creek Mills Historic District, home to Fine Creek Brewing Company along with The Mill at Fine Creek, has been a hub of activity since the original grist mill (ruins of which is The Mill’s most popular ceremony site) was built in 1735. Over the next almost 300 years, the 15 or so acres have been home to a post office, a ferry ticket house, several home sites, a school, a miller’s cottage, a general store, a cooper shop, a blacksmith shop, and most importantly…a still! Several of these are still standing and even in use today (not the still, I swear.)
Because of this rich history, we have found many items relating to these structures, most recently, the stones needed for our brewery chimney. Given all the quarrying of stone that took place here in order to build the grist mill and portions of the other buildings, we’re hoping there are more than enough for what we need. The hardest part has been gathering them, since many of these were used as foundation stones for houses and walls and as a result are painfully large. Some are even half buried, scattered around the woods which means carrying them out by hand is our only choice. Still even more will remain where they are, either too large or swallowed up by hundreds of years of tree growth.
The days spent gathering these stones have been some of the most satisfying thus far in terms of progress on the brewery. Maybe it’s the richness of history we feel as we’re pulling them from the woods; maybe it’s the fact that we’re sourcing this building material as locally as possible and saving money while we do it; or maybe it’s just that we know that every rock we grab is getting us that much closer to a delicious beer by a fire!