Saturday, 9 August 2014

Lazy Saturday afternoon on the sofa ramblings....

It's been a while since I wrote something... Guess it is better to just jump in and put together a couple of thoughts.

Ah well, let me write about the obvious... Brewing and beer.

Running a brewery as a sideline is no easy task. It is a balancing act of note... Day job, family life, friends, me-time, admin, logistics, marketing, sales, planning, strategy, brewing, bottling, orders, finances, excise duties, dealing with the authorities, etc. Most weeks I wish there were eight or nine days instead of 7 and that weekends were at least 3 days... Not to rest, but to get extra time for brewing & bottling.

So far it has been going great. The beer is getting better & better and we are getting great feedback. The one thing we have realized is that a serious upgrade is inevitable and will have to happen in the near future. With the upgrade we will have a tsunami of new obstacles to deal with... Logistics and time management (and possibly additional staff) will be at least an order of magnitude more tricky to deal with. Somehow we will just get through it...

Not to get ahead of myself... But I reckon we will have to increase our production tenfold within the first two years of being in operation. (We are only nearing the end of year 1 now and we have more than doubled production already) Crazy actually. In order to do this we will build a scalable and robust brewery with our upgrade with one key basic design characteristic: It is not the size of your brewhouse that matters that much, it matters how many batches it can churn out in a shift. This basic concept is something quite a number of new breweries fail to grasp. (In case this does not make sense to you... Buy yourself an early Christmas gift: "Beyond the Pale: The Story of Sierra Nevada Brewing Co."

One of the main advantages is that beer consistency improves since you get an averaging effect filling large fermenters with multiple brews. The other main advantage is that you have more flexibility (something we like a lot) by being able to make quite a few different beers in a single shift if you would like to. If your system is badly designed and you can run only one brew in a 8 hour day, you are really up shit creek without a paddle...

I guess a few are wondering... Will Gallows Hill keep bottling conditioning when they upgrade? Well, does The Kernel Brewery, Sierra Nevada, Brooklyn Brewery, Dogfish Head, Hill Farmstead, etc. still bottle condition... Yeah they do! And most probably so will we. Pretty sure the technique will be refined further, but for now we are keeping with the small batch, artisinal approach regardless of some people trying to advocate for the demise of bottle conditioning.

On that note... A future post on the correct treatment - transport, storage and pouring - of bottle conditioned beers seems like something we must tackle.

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