Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Firewheel Brewing Co. is one of DFW’s newest artisans storming the scene
After just five months, owner Brad Perkinson said he cannot keep up with market demand for his beer.
ROWLETT When Brad Perkinson lost his job as a financial analyst he turned a hobby into a new career. His brewery, Firewheel Brewing Company, produces beer which is being distributed across North Texas, including local restaurants and bars in Rowlett and Mesquite.
Perkinson had gotten interested in beer after a trip to Munich, Germany for Oktoberfest as part of his bachelor party celebration.
“I never really considered myself a beer person. I never really liked it growing up. When I turned 21, I had a couple of buddies that were drinking other beers that weren’t one of the typically-American brews. I tried some and began drinking those,” Perkinson said.
He implemented his newfound appreciation for beer as part of his bachelor party plans prior to his wedding in December 2009.
“I was getting married and decided to do something different than your typical bachelor party. A few friends and I went to Munich for Oktoberfest. While I was there I gained a new appreciation for the beer world. I came back and got married. For one of my gifts, my best man bought me a home brew kit. I started making beer and got pretty good at it,” Perkinson said.
He began by brewing two to three batches of his new beer per week and was distributing it to friends and coworkers.
“Everyone wanted it, but there was only so much I could make,” Perkinson said.
He was in the middle of turning his garage into a small brewery to increase the amount of beer he could make at once to keep up with demand when he got laid off from his financial analyst job.
“Once I got laid off, I decided to make a small commercial brewery instead of converting my garage. I figured everyone loved the beer so much they couldn’t get enough of it. I talked to my wife and she agreed to let me do this. I figured I am young now, so why not take a chance?” Perkinson said.
He then began looking for a place to locate his microbrewery. Perkinson said he did not want to set up the business far from his Sachse home because he did not like the long commute to Frisco as part of his previous job. The search eventually led him to Rowlett.
“I couldn’t find anything in Sachse; then I stumbled on a place in Rowlett. I took a tour of the place and it was perfect. There was a 1,200 square foot warehouse that was all wired and an office area,” Perkinson said.
Perkinson then began to set up his brewery. He found a barrel on Craigslist that he bought and welded to work for what he needed for the business. He then added a 7 gallon fermenter. Perkinson then began applying for permits through the city of Rowlett.
“The hardest thing was getting through the health codes. The [city employees] actually walked me through the process. I just really didn’t know what to do,” Perkinson said. “The nice thing about a smaller city is you are dealing with a person you can relate to and get to know and not just sending an email to a random person. I think we share common goals. They want people to come to the city and I want people to come to my business.”
Despite only being in production since July, he now has three barrels, two fermenters, and a bright tank. The bright tank allows him to carbonate the beer before he places it into kegs for transport.
“Originally I had to carbonate each tank individually which was a pain,” Perkinson said. “The new system has allowed me to double production.”
Perkinson said he still cannot keep up with the demand for his beer.
“I don’t have a lot of beer. I can only make what my tanks will allow me to make. I don’t even have time to age my beer. I have to keg it and get it out the door. More people want the beer than what I can produce right now,” Perkinson said.
He added that despite the quick success, he wants to grow the business organically at a slow pace.
“I want to keep it small at least for the next couple of months until we can find a good way to grow,” Perkinson said.
The next step for the brewery is getting all three tanks up and running to full capacity and finishing the building of a chiller unit Perkinson and a friend are working on.
“I don’t want to grow too fast but it would be nice to be able to hire an assistant brewer so I can take a vacation. We do tours every Saturday and I don’t want to cancel one of them. I want the brewery to maintain a personal touch as long as possible,” Perkinson said.
For information on Firewheel Brewing Company, visit www.firewheelbrewing.com.
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