Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Time, need more.....

When we left the pub I had a plan; do a little bit of brewing, develop some beer brands and have some time off. We’d worked hard for 6 years with very little time to ourselves. We’d missed lots of important family stuff due to the unsociable hours we had to work. The plan was to perhaps work no more than 40 hours a week, go home at 5pm and have weekends off. We did have a little bit of cash in the bank and no mortgage to pay; it shouldn’t be that difficult.

Right now we seem to be working very hard indeed. This is very rewarding and enjoyable, if a little tiring. Indeed, the only cause for complaint is the fact that the other activity I intended to engage in more was writing. I’m not blogging anywhere near as often as I’d like, despite there being many good subjects to get involved in. the The section below was written over two weeks ago while on a train to London for The Guild seminar on beer styles.

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They say a change is as good as a rest. I’ll confirm that to be very true indeed. We’re very happy doing what we are and seem to be developing the brewery very nicely, if with rather more hiccups than expected. I’ve just done 7 days work, each day significantly longer than 8 hours, and enjoyed it all thoroughly.

Things started to get out of hand quite early. We got offered larger brew kit for a start, which ate into our reserved living allowance. Secondly, we didn’t seem to have to try too hard to sell our beer. We started to market ourselves ahead of the bigger kit arriving with some reasonable success and decided to push a little harder so that we could justify the purchase of the new kit. Before long demand had outstripped supply for our existing plant and it also became apparent that our installation lacked some basics, like a drain in the floor for instance.

We made arrangements with our property landlord; we lease our sizable but under-resourced unit. We agreed that we would slowly re-build the brewery, completed with additional vessels, in an alternative unit. We occupied two units for a while at no extra rent in lieu of insisting some essential repairs were done.

To our frustration the brewkit, which we had agreed in April to buy, didn’t become available until September. The 5 weeks we were promised ended up being more like 5 months. Still, these things happen and it’s knock on effect you expect when brewery development depends upon other brewery development which in turn is dependant an builders, and architects, and building inspectors, and grants, and whatever else.

But we’re there, just about. Our brewery now has a multitude of vessels. Maximum brewlength is now around 6-7 barrels. We have enough stainless to brew perhaps 7 times a week, although some of those brews would have to be 2 barrel. We have a floor that drains reasonably well and a new cold room. The office is getting there, slowly. The clean yeast laboratory will be next, I hope.

It’s just over 2 months until Christmas. Bummer, Æther Blæc and Granite take longer than that to get to market. I brewed Æther Blæc on Friday and it needs to spend several months in whisky casks before it can even be bottled. It is then best left a month before it can be sold. I haven’t even brewed Granite yet and that needs at least a month in conditioning tank and then another month to bottle condition.

We have just bottled Dark Energy, but that needs a little longer to condition. I’ve got Infra Red in the fermenter and has just about got to target gravity. I can probably leave it in conditioning tank for a week or two and then bottle, a further 2 weeks in bottle before release puts it on the market mid November, a little late for the Christmas market perhaps.

Luckily we are at a time of year where cask volumes will let up a little, although we’re also still developing that market, so who knows.

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And I didn’t get to write anything at all on the subject of beer styles. I didn’t even get time to read what others wrote on the subject. Still, I have got some Infra Red bottled, so that’s a plus, even if Booths (Boooo-ths) failed to list the product due to our late form return.

Æther Blæc is in whisky casks safely tucked up in the new cold room. A surprising little revelation is the fact that it is possible to get an oak cask to seal completely gas tight; I had to drill a vent hole in one to relieve the pressure. I thought that rather interesting.

I really hope to return to blogging more regularly, and fluently, sometime soon. Meanwhile, please bare with me, I’ve got a brewery to organize.

So here I am on train again, off to London, again. I’m putting in my little bit of help for the organization of the British Guild of Beer Writers annual awards dinner. I’m not convinced I’m much help, but I’ll try.

And if I’m no help at all, at least I can help out with consumption of beer, all in the interests of research.

5 comments:

Cooking Lager said...

NO rest for the wicked, matey.

As an aside, what is the logic behind the brand Æther Blæc?

A name few would know how to pronounce and none would know how to find on a keyboard (I cut an pasted it) ? It distinctive, don't get me wrong, but so are day glow pantaloons.

Velky Al said...

As much as I love reading your blog, I can live with less if I know that you are making a good go of the brewery. Now, if only I could sort out American distribution.....

Ed said...

There can't be many people that set up microbreweries as a way of working less hours!

Brewers Union Local 180 said...

So ya wanna run a brewery...

HardKnott Dave said...

Cookie, sorry for not replying to your question earlier, I have been thinking about the response.

The best answer I can give is that it is a sort of filter, I don't really want any stupid lout drinkers making off with my pongy whisky cask aged stout - it's far too valuable.

I guess it's a sort of parody of Stone and BrewDog's "You won't like this beer" it's my kind of "if you don't get the name you are not worthy to drink this beer."

Tongue in cheek of course.

But seriously, no one is going to make lots of money from making whisky stout, they will make it by churning out gallons of session beer. I don't want Æther Blæc to be too popular - it's already as popular as I want it to be.

Oh, and on my MacBook I also have to cut and paste........ (alt 0198 and alt 0230 on the PC)