"Beer," Benjamin Franklin supposedly said, "is constant proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy." In fact, Franklin wrote those words about wine, not ale and lager. But a deep reverence for beer and the brewing process is evident in a finely tuned addition at the Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, Missouri. Led by architects at El Dorado, which also acted as the general contractor, the brewery's Cellar 1 went from a utilitarian 1920s-era storage facility to a sleek, modern vitrine for vats of the increasingly popular Boulevard brand of brew. "When I started 15 years ago, we had 20 employees and made about 20,000 barrels of beer a year," says Mike Utz, a plant engineer at Boulevard. "This year we'll do about 175,000 barrels with 100 people. The company has grown like crazy." Today the company's beer is distributed in 25 states.
Boulevard hired El Dorado—which worked in close collaboration with a team of the client's own engineers—to add 28 feet of height to the existing 17-foot-tall "cellar." The goal was to accommodate a production increase and provide access to new, much taller fermentation tanks, which employees access via hatchlike openings at the top of each one. The original masonry building housed tanks with a capacity less than half that of the new tanks, which, at 40 feet tall, hold up to 300 barrels of beer.
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