Designing a Brewery - A Grand Old Barn

  • October 20th, 2016
  • By Grant Sparling

Century-old barns are a testament to the craftsmanship and timelessness of quality, natural materials. For the Cowbell Farm, our starting point was simple: build a state-of-the-art facility that is true to who we are and where we are. Being in Huron County, surrounded by some of the most fertile land in Canada with strong agricultural heritage, building a “grand old barn” seemed like the logical design choice.

Our Project Architect, Jason Morgan at Allan Avis Architects, often speaks of the “honesty” of materials like wood and stone. We are sourcing the stone for Cowbell from relatives of ours at Shouldice Designer Stone in Shallow Lake, Ontario. The beams for our brewery, which are arriving on site this week, are sourced and milled by PineRidge Timberframe in Mount Forest, Ontario. PineRidge has been building beautiful rustic buildings since 1990, with projects across Canada and around the world.

New World Technology, Old World Design

The 650 beams for the Cowbell Farm were harvested about one year ago from sustainably managed forests in British Columbia. Over the past year they have been left to dry before being rough cut in lumber yards in BC. The 500,000 pounds of timber was then shipped to Mount Forest, where PineRidge finish cut and machined each beam according to their Computer-Aided Design (CAD) drawings. A Computer Numerical Control (CNC) machine completed the milling so the cuts are executed quickly and with great precision.

A couple months ago, a group of us from Cowbell toured the PineRidge facility. Mike Mader, the Owner and President, told us that milling a single beam by hand — as he would have done when PineRidge started building in 1990 — would take one full day. By comparison, his CNC machine only takes 10-20 minutes to accomplish the same work! This is one instance in which we (and I’m sure, Mike) are happy to embrace new-world technology in the construction of our old-world building.

The assembly method, however, is consistent with true century-old barns. PineRidge will use traditional mortise and tenon construction to assemble the building — it is simple, strong, and authentic. After assembling the wall sections horizontally, they will be hoisted into place, just as they would have been in a barn raising 100 years ago.

We are very excited to see our new home taking shape and we look forward to sharing it with you!

Stay tuned to our “Foundations” videos and future blogs to keep up to date with the build.