Sunday, 20 September 2009

When winter


As our visitors make their last ditch efforts to enjoy what might be left of the summer, we have to start thinking about the winter. I have a good idea about the minimum amount of money I would need to take over the bar in order to cover the extra costs of being open over being closed. When the sun shines, during the season, the bad days generally outweigh the good ones. So far this month we seem to have done well with sales per day outperforming August. But it has been hard work.

Without doing the detailed analysis I think we've done all right this year. Not bad after a grotty summer and considering the overall gloom and doom in the economy. Reigning in the overheads during the winter months should see us survive another year without bankruptcy looming.

In a few weeks time the weather will deteriorate and the footfall will reduce. I expect by the end of October I will be questioning the sense in being open mid week. For this reason we close mid week in November and will be closed fully during December and January. The trade will be non existent for most of that time. We will open up again at the start of February, again just at weekends and will be open fully by March. During the quieter months we'll grab a bit of a holiday and work like mad on decorating and finishing various projects on the place.

If you are clever you might well ask about the Christmas break. Do we not open then? Well, the last three years we haven't. We worked out that to enable us to do so we would have to retain seasonal staff, who actually don't really want to be here, just for a few hundred pounds extra takings. The effect on the bottom line is negligible. For the last three years we have been closed.

To stock up, estimate the number of casks to tap and vent, prep food and minimise waste is tricky for such a short period as the Christmas Holidays. Besides, do we not deserve one festivity off a year?

We've pondered opening for a part of the New Year break, perhaps for discerning guests. I wondered if a beer blogging and twittering type 3 day New Year "party" might be an idea. With luck, the type of people I'm thinking would enjoy the experience might well put up with a slightly reduced standard of service due to our inevitable core staff team. The deal might be a dinner bed and breakfast break and to minimise wastage for our kitchen a buffet style dinner each night, no choice but a selection of dishes for everybody to tuck into and try a bit of everything. Of course, it'll be to our usual standard.

I need to brew soon. I'm thinking of doing a big double imperial stout, or something similar at around 8%. It would be ready for the New Year. Any further ideas on brews to try would be appreciated, although strong would be the aim, I need something I can store for the spring. I would of course have something more sensible for the confirmed pint drinkers.

Anyway, that's the idea. Any takers out there?

12 comments:

Velky Al said...

I could send you my recipe for Skippy Porter, a smoked chocolate porter which was rather nice!

Wurst/Whorst- Brewing Arts Instructor, CEO APRK said...

Strong, hoppy, celebration ale. Talk to your hop guy. Get some high alpha varities and go to town! Dry hop it properly as well!

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

.... hmmmm .... could be a great ski season again in the Oregon Cascades ...

How 'bout brewing some Colonial Breakfast? I have Tanninbomb all tucked away in the cellar.

Tandleman said...

Don't be tempted by smoke. It's a minority taste. Go with Sausage.

Woolpack Dave said...

mmm...I like smoke. But I like hoppy as well, especially when dry hopped. I might just try one of each.....

I'm actually interested in any recipes that anybody might have, send them along...

Jeff Pickthall said...

Consider the NW Cumbria rum connection. A hint might be nice in a big stout.

Velky Al said...

The cocoa and Fuggles hops makes the smoke more of an intriguing background flavour rather than in your face and bacony. I will email you the recipe.

Anonymous said...

What about shutting The Woolpack on a permanent basis?

Posted by a recent client.

Anonymous said...

New Year sounds fun apart from I'll be skint after Christmas (and probably before). Need to save up for next August. Nice idea though.

Washy

Woolpack Dave said...

Recent,

What about shutting The Woolpack on a permanent basis?

An interesting question that has been bothering me since I saw it yesterday. To answer fully is beyond the scope of simple comments format. It does depend on your reasons for asking the question.

It could be that you came here and didn't like our fairly individual approach to what we do. This is unfortunate and I need to explore further how we portray what we do so that we maximise the number of customers that are looking for what we do and inform those that are unlikely to enjoy our service of the fact.

If we somehow failed to provide the level of service we aspire to then I can only apologise. It happens sometimes as nobody is perfect.

You may however be realising that whatever we do here it is a very difficult location and a very difficult building in which to run a business. If this is what you are getting at then that is a whole different matter worthy of a blog post by itself.

Woolpack Dave said...

Washy,

It's only money my friend. Be stingy with the Christmas presents and instead of having that last pint, you know, the one you don't remember having anyway, put a couple of quid in the piggy bank....besides, how can I afford to buy shoes for the children without your legendary beer consumption? You need to visit more often, if only for the sake of my children.

Anonymous said...

Nowt wrong with their clogs!

W