Shou sugi ban (and why people have hands)

Hello friends!

I’m sorry to have been out of touch for a while…lots going on up here, both in the realm of physical tasks, but also mental.  One could say that I’ve been very mental lately…

The snow is melting rapidly up in our neck of the woods and the days are getting warmer.  The fermentations will like this as they have had to endure drafty living conditions as the brewery has continued to take shape around the barrels.  One of my favorite side projects during this brewery construction was witnessing the fabrication of our 2 massive doors.  A brainchild of my neighbor and timber framer, Eric Anderson, these doors are sure to be our billboard to the world.  It’s taken close to 9 months to construct these things and the end result is well worth the wait and patience.  A brewery without doors in the woods in the winter is not ideal, but a family apothecary without a soul is unacceptable!

Eric Andersons' brand on one of the door support beams.

So, back when I had a garage and only a vision of what I wanted to create, I mentioned to Eric that I’d really like to get my insulated garage doors replaced.  Simply for the square footage that the track eats up on the ceiling.  In order for me to eventually stack barrels 3 high, I had to remove the roll-up door tracks…and it would make sense to do it prior to building the brewery.  He agreed with me and offered to ‘make some doors for the brewery’.  Sounded good to me.  Pretty soon he was setting up a temporary workspace in John Simonson’s garage across the street and bringing in wood.  Once he came up with a design and involved Hunter Dahlberg at Orion Forge, I began to get an idea that these doors were going to be something really special.  I’ve seen Eric’s work and we have some fine functional Orion Forge handrails on our stairs at home.  Well, really special doesn’t even begin to describe these things.  Truly doors fit for a castle in scope…each weighs over 600 pounds and they open and close with fingertips.

Hunter Dahlberg is the man behind the forge.


Beyond such material things as how great these doors look and function, my favorite aspect of this project is the process it took to make them.  Eric and Hunter are tremendously skilled men; both have been self-employed doing their respective trades for a while.  For myself, they are both mentors and inspiration when it comes to building the concept of The Ale Apothecary.  Like I am trying to do with beer, Eric and Hunter have trades that are interwoven with the history of humanity.  And, as this process of door-building shows, both employ techniques and tools that would have looked familiar to a tradesman hundreds of years ago…as well as utilizing the 21st century to fit their needs.  Eric used an old Japanese technique called ‘shou sugi ban’ which means ‘burnt cedar’ to preserve the beams.  He also mortised and tenoned the beams together…something people did long before metal fasteners became available.  Hunter’s shop has traditional blacksmithing tools like hammers and anvils as well as modern art and music.  Plus, what could be a better image of man’s purpose than Hunter hitting hot metal with a sledge??  I feel incredibly honored to have these doors as our first impression to visitors…they open much like an old friend’s arms, which is already what they feel like.  So, future Ale Club members, look forward to your first visit to one heck of a hand-made brewery.  All of the images documenting the process and individuals contributing to this door project can be found on The Ale Apothecary’s Facebook page in the album ‘Doors fit for a castle’.

The Ale Apothecary!

Somehow or another, all of this stuff ends up in the beer you know.



About paul

4 responses to “Shou sugi ban (and why people have hands)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: