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Heady Architecture News: Austin Design and The Alchemist

Alchemist Heady Topper Label Logo

This kinda sums up the Heady experience. We can vouch for it…

Austin Design is very pleased to announce that we have recently partnered with Jen and John Kimmich of The Alchemist, brewers of the world-famous Heady Topper, as architects for their new brewery and retail facility. Coming hard on the heels of our recent renovation at the Northampton Brewery, this is an exciting segue! We’re looking forward to the process of taking the brewery segment of our architectural portfolio to the next level with these amazing people and their brews. At this early stage, we have developed a welcome rapport and (dare we say it?) a satisfying chemistry with this couple and their singular enterprise. They know what they want and they want to do it right.

alchemist austin design vermont brewery architecture

Plans are being laid… and elevations. Austin Design, Commercial Architects and The Alchemist, Vermont Brewers.

To catch up, here’s a little background. John Kimmich learned his craft working with the best in the business, Greg Noonan of Vermont Pub and Brewery; he started at Noonan’s Seven Barrel in West Lebanon, NH and moved up to head brewer at Vermont Pub in Burlington. He met Jen while there and in 2003 they founded The Alchemist as a brewpub in Waterbury, Vermont. Brewing a variety of styles on-premises, Heady Topper was one of the offerings on their beer list. The small brewery’s reputation began growing to legendary status in Vermont, a state already at the top of beer destinations; beer aficionados were soon making long pilgrimages for the Alchemist experience. Heady Topper, an American Imperial/Double IPA, rose to the top of the list as John, with his dedicated  attention to the details, brought it to perfection. In response, the demand skyrocketed and the praise became deafening, with Heady Topper being declared as “the best in the world” by the Beer Advocate.

alchemist heady topper cans

Drink from the can. Seriously. It makes a huge difference.

The Kimmichs decided to focus on meeting that demand and laid plans to build a production brewery and cannery dedicated exclusively to their flagship Heady Topper. The cannery opened in August 2011; later that same month, Hurricane Irene washed out the brewpub, along with much of downtown Waterbury. Just in time, the new cannery was able to continue supplying the thirsty public with Heady Topper, and occasionally a couple of other hop-laden styles; distribution was to local retail outlets only and even then, production could not keep up with the demand. Fans continued to come to the Alchemist cannery to buy it direct from the makers, when it was available. Unfortunately, traffic and crowds began to become an issue and in the fall of 2013, Jen and John had to close their doors to retail visitors and come up with a new plan.

austindesigninc instagram at alchemist cannery

Follow @austindesigninc on Instagram for more #instabrew and #archigram shots

As winter came on, they decided the best course of action was to construct a new brewery, designed specifically to accommodate their visitors and showcase the Alchemist style and ideals. Heady would continue to be produced at their Waterbury cannery for distribution to local stores; the new facility would produce the other Alchemist brews, such as Focal Banger, Beelzebub, Holy Cow, Petit Mutant, and The Crusher. It would demonstrate the company’s devotion to their values: perfection of craft, support of local agriculture and artistry, insistence on quality over quantity, a vibrant company culture, and the fun and funky personality that has endeared the Alchemist to thousands of beer fans. This is when Austin Design introduced ourselves and, following a short selection process, joined the Kimmich’s team, led by Construction Manager Mark D’Angelo, as the architects for this enjoyable assignment.

jen kimmich bill austin alchemist  austin design brewery architecture

 Bill Austin of  Austin Design and Jen Kimmich of The Alchemist

austin design alchemist vermont brewery architecture

ADI takes a behind-the-scenes look at the Alchemist’s Waterbury Cannery

So… the stage has been set! This is just the beginning of what promises to be a fun ride. Stay tuned to this blog and our Facebook page as we document the architectural  process of designing a world-class brewery for a wonderful group of people. The goals, the challenges and solutions, the concepts and the realizations, the professionals and the craftsmen, the materials and the meetings. Not to mention the Heady creations…

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