Project Profile: Silver Branch Brewery
Scope of work: Construction of a 9,500-square-foot craft brewery and taproom in an ofﬁce/retail building
BC&E Member companies involved: Tarantino Engineering Consultants
Over the course of working on more than two dozen craft breweries and spirit distilleries, Tarantino Engineering Consultants (TEC) has grown accustomed to satisfying the unique dreams and challenging circumstances of beverage entrepreneurs.
“But when the owners [of Silver Branch Brewing] came to us and said they wanted to open a production brewery and taproom on the third floor of an eight-story building, we kind of thought they were crazy,” said Brian Tarantino, President.
The brewery equipment would undoubtedly exceed the structural capacity of the 1985 office and retail building. Silver Branch’s one dozen 45-barrel fermenters alone would weigh 240,000 pounds. The facility would also have to accommodate brew-house tanks, a large grain room, grist case, cold storage area and other production equipment.
“But the owners loved the location because it was so near Silver Spring Metro and, even though it was the third floor, it was plaza level and had really good access to a lot of adjacent retail and office space,” Tarantino said.
TEC determined that the floor could not support the brewery “but there was capacity in the columns and footings for the additional weight,” Tarantino said.
Construction crews, however, would not be able to access the third- floor structure from beneath due to existing, active retail. So after extensive analysis, TEC proposed building “a suspended structural platform that connects directly to the columns and sits above the existing floor,” he said. “Most people we talked to thought it just wouldn’t be possible.”
But another six months of analysis and design in conjunction with the building’s owner and structural engineer determined the plan would work.
The design had to include other special features to accommodate a third-story brewery.
“Typically, these production facilities are installed in slab-on-grade facilities on the ground floor. It holds the weight and it’s easier to run plumbing and not have many condensation issues with your cold storage,” Tarantino said. “In this case, we were putting cold storage on a framed slab and we were really worried about condensation underneath the slab, so we installed a sandwiched layer of insulation in between the two slabs.”
The project team had to install a permanent lift from the loading dock to the brewery to handle ongoing movement of kegs, grain shipments and other materials. To create a striking entrance between the taproom and the patio, the team also had to modify a 30-foot span of the glass-and-aluminum curtain wall. “This project was a great opportunity for us to flex our creative muscle,” Tarantino said. “Structurally, we nailed it and we really carefully planned the project to avoid any construction surprises… We love a challenge and we’re really proud of how we handled this one.”