Monday 29 June 2009

Recession effect?

It's too hot to sit in the office, looking at a computer screen and blogging. That's another excuse to add to the list of others that prevent me from posting more often. It's not that I've run out of things to write about. I know, you were hoping, but the summer, I'm sure, will be over long before we're ready for it to be and the dark winter days will bring me back to the land of the Qwerty. Of course, the main thing keeping me from my blog are customers. The good weather makes people thirsty, which is generally good for business. We're starting to run out of beer and I'm waiting for a delivery of malt1 before I can brew again.

Earlier in the year the news was full of doom and gloom relating to the economy. It got me worried and I'm sure many others were too. With all our reserves tied up in the investments made to the building and the banks looking increasingly unhappy about turning equity into cash, we needed a careful approach to unnecessary spending. Couple that with the possibility that customers might stop spending, a worrying time was in store.

As a good business man would, I keep a running check on financial performance. I know I'm not a good business man, but occasionally I pretend and have a wee peek at the figures. They're not superb, but they are no worse than any other year, within the normal variations caused by such things as the changing date of Easter. The warm weather in June seems to have balanced out the slow March start to the season. Either way the "recession" seems to have had no real effect on business. The hot weather, however, is making people thirsty.

There are some more subtle changes I'm noticing to trade. Every single brewer I've spoken to reports healthy sales. Some even reporting having difficulties keeping up with demand. I've noticed that some breweries that used to ring up every week touting for custom are now waiting for us to call them. When we do call the choices left are often much reduced. Beer sales generally might well be declining but not from the quality microbreweries from which we source our beers.

The biggest change we are noticing is in accommodation bookings. We used to be fully booked in advance for most weekends. This year we seem to be taking much more in the way of late bookings. An effect, we think, of the "staycation" holiday. Recently, we've have had space up until the last minute and even been filling up with people "off the street". Indeed, it seems many more people are setting off from home with no idea where they will end up. Many more people are coming in off the street looking for rooms than in previous years.

It would seem we're reasonably recession proof. The word on the business street is that unless the wolf is already scratching at the door, you've probably got over the worst. It might not be much consolation to anybody who has lost their job, or whose business has gone down the tubes, but I do think things are looking up both for pubs and for the economy in general. Don't start complaining that it's too hot, like I nearly did, just get out there and drink some beer.

1Ha, the palate was delivered before I got a chance to finish this post. In fact, I spent most of the day washing out the brewery and bringing in the malt. Tomorrow is brew day, yippee, and I've got some new types of malt, yippee again. That'll stop any beer geek connoisseur accusing my beers of blurring into one, rendering them unmemorable. It won't stop him finding other faults, but he's right, I'll thank him eventually, if I'm not already, when he can't hear that is.

Speaking of which, I've just put some beer in bottles at my first try at bottle conditioning. I'm not shouting too loud yet, it might be a dismal failure. It'll take a couple of weeks before we know if the conditioning is good. After that I have to look for a "brewhouse flavour that is not flattering", something to do with sparge temperature is my guess, and then start work on the next iteration.


Bigun said...

What are the "new Malts"? i'm getting some "Golden Promise" next week to see what the fuss is about. Been to a few micro's recently and they all seem to be using "Perl" a bit ordinary and a financial decision I think. A chap in our group got a bag of "Crystal Rye Malt" on our last trip to Fawcetts, very unusual, very Toffee, strange in a pale ale but should be interesting in something nice and dark. Glad to see you are keeping your head up, suggested to our group last night that we have a weekender at your hostlery in the darker months, lots of enthusiastic responce so may be over later in year.

Unknown said...

Caramalt is the main one, which tastes and smells lovely. I've also got Munich, which I think is less interesting. I've also got some Roasted Rye, which I've used before to good effect in darker beers.

I agree, for some pale malts the key issue is price.

It would be great to see you here. It might be best to check dates. We tend to have some close down weeks when trade is very slow. Let us know what dates you are thinking.