Good evening! I’m Nate, co-founder and brewer at Tree House. It’s been a while since I have last shared thoughts in this space. If I could just borrow a moment of your time, I'd like to share a few reflections along with future plans Damien, Dean, myself, and the rest of the Tree House family have been busy working on.
We began 2017 with twenty two employees and produced roughly two hundred and seventy barrels of beer a week. We currently have fifty employees and produce about a thousand barrels of beer a week. Over the same time period we have become one of the most visited destination breweries in the world. We have expanded mightily yet carefully to meet an unprecedented demand for beer at the brewery, and I am happy to say that we did so without compromising our ideals. Years of personal, hands on brewing endeavor by myself and my peers prepared us for this step. In our founding principles, it’s stated that if we can’t do it better, we won’t even attempt it. Thanks to this ideal, and the focus and great personal sacrifice of many dedicated individual efforts at Tree House, our beer is better and more readily available than ever across a spectrum of styles. The experience at the brewery, which sits on 70 acres of mostly undisturbed private land abutting a nature sanctuary, is better than ever with many of our best beers available on a weekly basis with little to no wait in line most of the time. The experience is better than ever, for sure, but much is still left to be done.
When planning for Charlton and before selecting our final property, we contemplated several options about how to move forward carefully considering how we could best serve you for many years to come. We toured a number of existing industrial build-to-suit buildings that could have provided a department store-like experience, with gigantic strip mall parking lots and cavernous, impersonal spaces. This could have improved things in the short term but dramatically reduced the overall quality of the Tree House experience in the long term. Planning and constructing a new greenfield project under the prediction that more beer would space crowds dramatically and make for more laid back visits, we chose to balance aesthetic, warmth, and undisturbed nature with long term viability for large crowds. We are proud of the facility we built. We got many things about it right, and some things very wrong. We can serve you better, and that is what this update is about.
This summer - pending local approvals - we will begin constructing a roughly 16,000 square foot expansion to our retail shop and brewery. This will include a number of open pergolas with beautiful landscaping and natural aesthetic to blend with our surroundings. A second bar, roughly twice the size of our existing bar, will service customers both inside and out during the spring, summer, and fall months and provide a second option for pints when we hunker down in the winter. This will also increase the potential for servicing growlers during slower weekday hours. Almost 2,000 square feet of new indoor mezzanine will be constructed in the existing brewery, bringing you, the guest, into virtual contact with the brewing space. The new can sale area will be above our canning line, where guests will be able to take in the beautiful sights, sounds, and smells of fresh beer coming off of the Tree House canning line in a uniquely intimate experience that blurs the line between retail and the production floor.
A number of important considerations went into the design of the new space. Chief among them is a relocating can sales to a new location at the far end of the new expansion. This will enable us to route guests around the outdoor pavilion, where we will construct a timber awning to protect from the elements should a line form. The new can sale area will be about twice as large as the existing can sale area, allowing our can packers to assist you with greater speed and efficiency.
Relocating and expanding the can sale area will open up the original retail space and bar entirely, allowing us to hopefully offer draft during all open hours.
A newly constructed private function room, capable of hosting events several days out of the week, will be part of this improvement project. It’s designed with a large glass wall that will blur the line between the nature that sits beside it and a serene and private indoor space. Our current offices will be demolished and relocated to the back of the expansion to make room for a large and new open public space roughly twice the size of our existing retail shop.
Beyond the new retail shop, we will be shaping and manicuring several additional outdoor spaces to enjoy during the warmer months. We will introduce a series of trails that Damien and his father Roc have been working on for the past six months. They have carved out roughly three miles of trail on our property to enjoy either on foot or as single track mountain bike trail. This series of trails connects to our neighbors at Capen Hill Wildlife Sanctuary, where you may operate non motorized vehicles. In addition to the trail system, we will be planting an orchard of fruit trees, curating our own set of beehives, and opening up roughly five acres behind the sunset pavilion as hop fields and open space to enjoy. Further, we recently constructed a new sunset patio that offers exceptional west facing views of Tree House and sits adjacent to the peaceful wooded acreage on our property. It’s a giant, beautiful space that is a true joy to experience.
Finally, as part of this expansion we will be making a large upgrade to our parking capacity.
SUSTAINABILITY AND A RESPONSIBLE PARTNER
We have grown substantially as a brewery, and with that growth comes increasing raw material and energy needs. To offset our impact, we are taking a number of dramatic steps to minimize our energy use and to utilize cutting edge technology to reduce our impact on the environment. We are pleased to share that we have committed to generating 40% of our electricity needs with on-site renewable technology within two years. Within five years, we have a goal to generate 100% of our electricity needs on-site through renewable means. Further, under a Memorandum of Agreement with the Town of Charlton Sewer Department, per our suggestion, we have pledged to reduce the strength of our wastewater to below that of standard household waste utilizing industry best technology within two years. Thanks to advanced automated Clean In Place equipment from GEA Brewery Systems, our water use is less than ever at about 3 gallons of water per gallon of beer produced. This is far below the industry standard and something we have worked hard as a crew to achieve.
For our retail expansion, we will disturb very little virgin ground, and what we disturb we will offset with plantings.
These are just the first of a number of Earth friendly initiatives we will be undertaking in the coming year. We will keep you informed of our progress as we are able to build and implement new technology.
On the beer-making side of things, the last twelve months saw the introduction of several new favorites including Hurricane, Bright w/Galaxy, Hold On To Sunshine, Moment of Clarity, Somewhere, Something, and more. We have taken previously limited release, heavily kettle and dry hopped Tree House IPAs and pale ales like Julius, Green, Alter Ego, Haze, Doppelganger, Sap, Lights On, Tornado, and Bright and made them easy to attain and consistent regular release beers at a great price point. We are now working with more consistent, hand selected raw materials than we had in the past. Our week to week variety has expanded far beyond what we were accustomed to just a short time ago. Other projects, in the works for nearly six years, will soon begin to bear fruit. The flexibility of two large production breweries will afford us the opportunity to frequently introduce new offerings and produce challenging beers of great complexity, skill, time, and depth of character that would have been impossible just a year ago. Since opening our doors we have always strived to improve day by day and batch by batch and that spirit is very much alive today, perhaps more so than ever. The summer of 2018 and beyond promises a flurry of new draft exclusives and packaged offerings.
A FINAL WORD
Tree House Brewing Company is a highly personal endeavor, and one we have lived, breathed, laughed, cried, and marveled at for the past six years. Our experience has evolved from a cozy barn with a wood stove to an expansive and beautiful state of the art facility without losing the core of what makes it special - community, friendship, and great beer. One of life's great and simple joys is a drinking a well made pint of beer with friends or loved ones. Trying to curate and maintain such a beautiful experience for so many people here at Tree House has been both an extreme challenge and a great joy. Our idealistic vision of a perfect and profound drinking experience is one we will continue chasing, and fighting for, for all guests who support us with a visit. A great pint of beer in a warm and inviting environment has the power to transform an ordinary moment into an extraordinary one. The chase of these moments helps to inform every decision we make and guides us in times of uncertainty and fatigue.
I have the luxury of observing both our production crew and our retail crew on a daily basis. I have been fortunate to witness great personal growth across the board within Tree House through tireless focus and an unrelenting work ethic. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that behind every single beer we make and behind every single can we sell is a hungry and relentless crew that wants nothing more than to bring you the very best beer and experience we can offer. I could not be more proud of every single person who has contributed within our walls, especially in the last twelve months.
This project will allow our new space to breath, making for a more relaxed and enjoyable environment for everyone who visits. As mentioned in the opening of this post, the experience at Tree House is better than ever. . . But it is far from perfect. We won't stop until it is. We promise to continue reinvesting to make it better, day by day, and year by year, far into the future. This new project reaffirms our goal: To brew the best beer we can and serve it in the most comfortable and friendly environment possible.
Your continued support has made this dream possible for us, and for that we are eternally grateful. We sincerely thank you. Thank you so much.
We are only just beginning. We will have more news soon.