Time off is always a great thing. Getting away from the daily grind with the constant chasing of deadlines and targets is always pleasant. It takes me a couple of days to switch off and clear my mind. Not thinking of work and personal projects is a well deserved luxury. Unfortunately just like taking a couple of days to switch off, my brain kicks into overdrive about 5 or so days before the end of the holiday.
With our brewery expansion project in progress there are more items to get to than possible in the available time with the resources we have. As everyone tells you: It is close to insanity to start a brewing company when you have a toddler at home or starting a family; while at the same time all parties involved juggle crazy schedules at their day jobs.
To some extent I think we are suckers for punishment and rarely pick an easy route. In the end it certainly creates great stories and opportunities to learn. Adversity is a breeding ground for innovation and can result in achieving results against the odds provided you are willing to put in the effort required.
More on the struggles and brewery expansion in a bit… Back to the holiday first.
Travel is essential to broaden ones outlook on life; to figure out what is important and what not; and to learn more about yourself and the people traveling with you. Getting to experience far off places and remote unexplored territories is an added bonus when included in the trip.
We were lucky to be offered an opportunity to join a trip from Vancouver up the British Columbian coast. It is a vast area. BC is larger than California, Oregon & Washington State combined.
The first leg of the trip comprised the circumnavigation of Princess Royal Island on a sailing vessel. 16 people in a confined environment helped create memorable experiences. On the numerous stops along the way we got to see a great array of wildlife, including the bears we came to see as the main focus of the trip. We had awesome sightings of Black, Grizzly (Brown) & Spirit Bears. The latter being the elusive white version of the Black Bear.
The second leg of the trip was spent at the Great Bear Lodge where all our time was focused on watching Brown Bears catching salmon along the river.
Two days ahead and two days after the expedition was spent rambling around Vancouver. Vancouver is an awesome little city. Compact and filled with great shops, restaurants and of course a good selection of breweries.
As always we manage to fit in quite a bit of beer ’research’ on our trips. With Vancouver being in the Pacific North West the selection of hop-forward beers alone makes the trip worth it.
Based on the beers tasted it is safe to say that quite a few of our South African beers are on par with those available in BC. Sadly the majority of breweries in SA need to do a LOT of catching up. Some of our breweries are also losing the plot a bit… trying to play the volume game by pushing dumbed down beer to compete with the mega-brewers. It is a bad idea that will lead to a bad ending!
I am most definitely biased, but I think our beers & brewery are on the right track. The beers still needs some tweaking and as a brewery we have a lot to still figure out. Most importantly I think our beers can stand tall with some of the best we’ve tasted on the trip.
By now the holiday is a distant memory...
Back to the daily grind.
Back to the adventures (and lack of sleep) due to the addition of a new member to the family. (Welcome Hadrian!)
Back to dealing with the art of juggling limited funds while ordering pumps, fittings, tanks, equipment & importing a new brew house.
Ramping up a bootstrapped brewing operation is no easy task. Especially when you decide to say "Fuck it... We are doing our own way and figuring it out as we go." At least we have (we hope) resolved most of the issues and only have a couple of outstanding items to be resolved in the coming weeks.
By early to mid November we will be able to put our grubby little paws on a new custum brew house. If everything goes to plan we will be able to fire it up and start churning out beers before the end of the year.