The first problem I had was that I brewed beer, got it out into the trade and then found I had no more empty casks. It takes time to get empties back to the brewery, a blog subject all by itself. We ordered some more casks which have now arrived. Today I'm brewing so I can get some more beer out into pubs.
I also realised a few weeks ago that I was going to run out of shives1. I use CypherCo plastic casks, which although not as robust as stainless, but I estimate that in the first 5 years of life they offer significant financial advantages. Again, the relative merits of plastic verses stainless steel is yet another subject. It is the shives I wish to discuss today.
The biggest downside of CypherCo casks, in my view, is the fact that only one type of shive works, one that was made by a company called TE plastics. To my horror, when we tried to order more, we found that TE plastics had gone into liquidation. Several weeks of frantic searching for a suitable alternative eventually brought me to the conclusion that really, the only design that worked was the TE plastics' design.
I'll be honest, at this point I was ready to cancel the order for the CypherCo casks as there appeared to be no short term solution. The lack of a suitable shive eliminated the financial benefits of plastic casks.
After some badgering of CypherCo they eventually managed to secure the tooling from TE plastics. We picked up our new casks the other day and while we were there the very first run of new shives were literally hot off the press.
On Monday I racked into new plastic casks and sealed them with new shives. I am a happy brewer.
1Pete Brown notes in one of his excellent books about the number of brewing terms that attract spell-check red underlines, shives is one of them. For those that don't know, a shive is a bung that seals part of the cask.