The taproom is opening on Thursday Oct 2nd around 5pm! This is a pretty exciting moment, I must say. We've had an army of volunteers helping out these past few weeks, and we are ready for you.

This week was a banner one - we got our final inspection from the City, and the Fire Marshall will be through shortly to give the final blessing. We're still waiting on the TTB (the Federal Trade Taxation Bureau), which has been in a, "We'll approve you tomorrow!" mode for a week or more. If I need to get a special permit from the City and OLCC for opening this week (which I can do), I shall. It is time!

No shortage of manly men doing manly things.

No shortage of manly men doing manly things.

For me, this has been quite an adventure on a number of levels. Transitioning from 25 years behind a desk has been remarkably easy. I've found myself learning all kinds of new things, and working in ways I never thought. Like spending 2 days climbing up and down a 20 foot ladder to install skylights. I hadn't expected that. I really needed to work my yoga focus to not freak the hell out and fall of the ladder or the roof. I can scurry up and down with the best of them, now. Not a resume building skill, and... for the first time in my life, I don't care about that!

A pleasure at the end of a day.

A pleasure at the end of a day.

The taproom is coming together. Checkout that nifty mirror over the bar - it's actually an antique door with a fabulous mirror in it. 

The taproom is coming together. Checkout that nifty mirror over the bar - it's actually an antique door with a fabulous mirror in it. 

These past few weeks have been a blur - so much has been happening. Some highlights include lots of sanding and varnishing old furniture. Like some church pews that now get to enjoy a new life at Hi-Wheel. 

You'll get to meet Krista, our bar manager. She comes with 13 years experience behind the bar, and is charge of the entire taproom. She'll be curating fine beers, ciders and meads for both the tap and our new reach-in cooler. You'll be able to get some interesting beverages not on our 10 tap draft system, and some to take home, too.

Once we settle into the space, I'll be getting the bottling line up and running. The four main Hi-Wheel fizzy wine flavors shall be bottled in 500 ml sizes for take-away and at locations around Portland.

New skylights.

New skylights.

And here we are, a day or so away from opening a taproom and production winery in Portland, Oregon. My vision that came into focus last summer in the middle of a wild storm of life, and it's been made my many, many hands.

Ready for you to enjoy.

Now, we're planning on opening Thursday to Sunday for the month. And don't forget the Grand Opening party on Saturday Oct 11th!

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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

This is the last day of the fund-raising campaign to finish out the taproom. Check out the video to learn more about the company, and also participate in Portland's very first Fizzy Winery & Meadery! 

Meanwhile, so much is happening at the space, getting ready for the Grand Opening on Sat Oct 11th. Here is master craftsman Phil showing off the board that'll list our 10 draft options. Pretty awesome, no?

The new Hi-Wheel tap list board

The new Hi-Wheel tap list board

Production sink

Production sink

Here is the honkin' sink in the production area, already put to work. I love stainless steel. Maybe it was all those years working in my father's bakery, or perhaps in college doing dishes. Oh the irony I'd be doing it again (and again) as an adult.

Franken Walk-In has been humming along for a couple weeks now, and is doing a very good job. We've got all kinds of interesting beverages in there, waiting for you.

Franken Walk-In

Franken Walk-In

And finally, we all need a muse. Here is Mini who's been fueling after-work enjoyment, as well as sharing some of the fizzy goodness we've been cooking up.

This is been such an amazing project to date, and as construction comes to a close this week, and we get ready to open the doors, a new chapter starts. 

Thank you all for your love and support. And... it's the last day of the capital campaign, I'd be delighted to include you as one of the people who helped make Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co. come true.


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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

We're in the final week or so of build-out. Plumbing completes today, walk-in gets fired up (or rather, cooled down), flooring is down, and colors are on the wall. It's very exciting! Shortly the building sign will be going up!

This dream becomes more and more real with each passing day. My work today is around sourcing ingredients to produce much larger batches, as well as finishing up gear. 

We're in the last 2 weeks of the fundraising campaign, please check it out and contribute, I can use your support to bring fizzy wines & meads to NE Portland. Thank you!

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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr
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New logo on the wall of the taproom! Not quite fully operational, but close.

New logo on the wall of the taproom! Not quite fully operational, but close.

Remember in Return of the Jedi, when the Empire made the Death Star II, with a design to leave us thinking it was half-built? And then Emperor Palpatine turns to Luke with smarmy, "Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station!" while spitting all over Luke? Starting a business in Portland has been much like that for me.

I think of just about anything in terms of frameworks, or containers. Like creating a corporate entity container to hold the business, or locating a building to hold the operations.  Then with these large frameworks in place, build the systems within: websites & finance systems, or fermenters, sinks & kegs.

The work for me has been coordinating all the rapidly moving parts over these past few months. And all of a sudden, whether it looks like it or not, the project is up and running and ready for life!

This week is a big one - electrical, walk-in refrigeration, bathroom paint, flooring & closet doors. And at the end of the week, we're getting so much closer to being fully operational!

Oh, I cannot tell you how much I'm anticipating opening the doors, seeing you all come in, enjoy yourselves and a beverage, with friends and neighbors on a gorgeous Portland September night. Yup, we'll be doing some soft openings in just a few weeks. 

And don't forget the funding campaign, every little bit helps - much thanks & cheers!

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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

These last few weeks some excellent progress has been happening at the space. We got one of two Federal approvals for production & service, and the State & local paperwork is done. Drywall is complete, the last of the floor stained, and painting starts on Monday.

Today Robert & I are going to pick up paint, pick out the flooring for the bathroom, and see if we can find a good used 3-bin sink for the back bar area.

What's next is the bar! I've started a fundraising campaign on Indiegogo to make happen a Most Excellent Taproom, and I'd like your help to see it happen. I've been humbled with the support and calls to make this dream happen.

Do check out the fun video, which gives some of the background on Hi-Wheel, the vision and goals.

Thank you & Cheers! 

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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

The concrete floor got inspected and repoured over the past two weeks. This was a huge milestone - there is now a firm surface on which the contractors can work. Over the weekend, Robert & I ground, washed and stained the floor.

I'm really happy with the results. I'm calling it "Martian Landscape", which should contrast nicely with the grey concrete walls above, and the wood accents we'll be adding. This sets the stage for framing, which started today.

Floors with the water-based stain. I'm calling it the "Martian Landscape" look.

Floors with the water-based stain. I'm calling it the "Martian Landscape" look.

Floors ground & clean, with new trench drain.

Floors ground & clean, with new trench drain.

In other news, I signed with Running Man PDX, a new distributor here in Portland, focusing on small producers of beer, cider & mead (and my fizzy wines), for distribution in and around Portland. Our visions and philosophies align, and we think this is going to be dynamite partnership. 

Running Man currently carries seven brands: four breweries, two cideries and Hi-Wheel. We'll be doing a tap take-over at Bailey's Taproom on July 21st from 5pm to 8pm. Come on by!

Posted
AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

The construction project is moving along as these things do. Good progress this week. The plumbing is down & inspected & rebar in-place ready for pour. I did the electrical conduit myself, which was quite a joy working alongside Harlen the Plumber. I even got to cut 2 feet of concrete with my circular and watch Harlen break it with a sledge hammer. 

Concrete cut with all the rough-in plumbing.

Concrete cut with all the rough-in plumbing.

I goofed and didn't realize the conduit requires an inspection, so that's happening on Monday. Tuesday pour, then the floor grinding follows. Thank goodness Baerlic Brewing is having their opening party later today, I'll get to celebrate the progress with the excellent men & women in the biz. 

Conduit is sexy; a special satisfaction knowing my work will be a part of this building for decades.

Conduit is sexy; a special satisfaction knowing my work will be a part of this building for decades.

Junior conduit layer comes up with what he thinks is a good idea to keep the pipes spaced for the concrete pour. I think this is why we have professionals.

Junior conduit layer comes up with what he thinks is a good idea to keep the pipes spaced for the concrete pour. I think this is why we have professionals.

Posted
AuthorKen Bonnin Jr

10 Speed Mead had to go. I'm sad to see it leave, because I rather liked it, and it was the standard-bearer of the company as I built my facility over the past few years. Two things happened that strongly encouraged a company name change.

The first was legal - another Oregon company was using "10 Speed" in the beverage industry. Oops, that'll teach me to not check the federal trademark database!

The second reason, however, is the artistic driver. I started fermenting just about anything with a sugar in it in 2006, and clocked in 114 distinct batches in seven years. I learned that many fruit ferment into some excellent wines.

My original focus was meads - the distinguisher there is that mead is made with honey as the primary fermentable sugar. However, I make rather long-aged meads, taking 8 to 12 months; this is a long lead-time to get a company up and running.

In the summer of 2013 at a little party in the Nevada desert, I brought 4 or 5 kegs of some of these fruit wines "just for fun": ginger lemon, habanaro lemon, grapefruit, and blue berry-pomegranate. Their immense popularity spurred me into thinking I needed to produce these non-honey wines as well.

And so, "10 Speed Mead" wouldn't fit for this class of beverages. Which brings us to: Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead Co.!

Pierre and 10 Speed Mead; we shall see the man in the snappy vintage bathing suit again soon.

Pierre and 10 Speed Mead; we shall see the man in the snappy vintage bathing suit again soon.

The new company logo, with Pierre's bike! 

The new company logo, with Pierre's bike! 

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AuthorKen Bonnin Jr