Captain’s Blog – March 2020
Hello everyone. A month has passed since the last blog and, with lots going on at the brewery and further afield, I thought it would be a good time to share a few words.
First week of February I brewed our first beer on the new kit and, after some wort chilling issues, started again a few days later. The brew went smoothly at the second attempt but fermentation was slow – a combination of the ambient temperature of around 12 degrees in our unit for several weeks, and London Ale III being somewhat temperamental at times. It got there in the end.
I followed this up with a brew a week – a Citra Pale, an Oatmeal Stout and, this week, a Citra, Mosaic and Simcoe IPA. Next up in coming weeks are a proper dank and piney West Coast IPA, the return of the very well received Mild we brewed last year, a full size brew of our table beer (brewed again recently on the 1bbl kit) and a couple of pilsners. We’ve also a couple of fruited pale/IPAs and sours coming up in the next month or so. We started selling in earnest this week and after a week have shifted 50% of the 2 beers packaged, which is pretty pleasing, especially as most orders have come from venues new to us via Eebria / social media without any real push from our end.
Am I pleased with the beers produced so far? No. None are yet to quite hit the sweet spot in terms of being fully as intended. Then again I never am happy with them. Ever. I am always looking at how I can make beer better, improve flavours, experimenting with new ingredients and techniques etc. It’s an attitude that is ingrained in me in everything I do. One thing I am good at is learning, developing and improving. Both from a hell of a lot of reading and, of course, practice. Brewing on a 5bbl kit is something of a step up from 60 ish litres and every brew has improved my understanding of the way my kit performs and getting used to some of it’s unique nuances. This is feeding back into a process of continuous improvement, adjusting my brewing processes and future recipes.
I’m fortunate / unfortunate that I have other commitments at the moment. I’ve been a self employed Management Consultant for 20 years and, having decided 2.5 years ago to knock it on the head I’m still doing it. A situation that I find at best frustrating and at worst very difficult mentally to handle. I’ve had a difficult year or two adjusting to doing a job that not only do I not enjoy, but one that is also preventing me from brewing full time. It’s a bit of a catch 22 – I can’t make a living brewing here and there, so I continue to do a job that pays well but prevents me brewing full time. That said, my current project will be my last and will shortly become part time, allowing me to brew in the week as oppose to the rather tiring last month of brewing Saturdays and calling in before and after work most days to look after and check beer in progress, package, clean and so on.
I’ve been reflecting a lot over recent weeks on this situation and I think the current Coronavirus situation has forced my hand a little, or at least allowed me to focus and think and plan ahead with a little more clarity. I just had a festival cancellation, something I fully expected and support, but something that’s a bit disappointing given the level of excitement the invite had generated. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t do excitement 😂. What all this means is that, rather than push on and brew more often, I will stick to the brew a week schedule, possibly missing the odd week as I see how this pans out. What this approach does is allow me to focus on other aspects of what I have planned e.g. building a cold store, taproom – and these are certainly the two main areas of focus in coming months. We are well along the Licensing process, have been speaking to fellow breweries about securing their beers for our guest lines / fridge and started clearing the space for where the tap room will be situated.
So, plenty of beer still coming out over the next few months and more opportunity for people to get out and sample our beers. More importantly it means more opportunities for you to get out and support the small, independent bars and bottle shops that we are grateful for buying our beer and who are likely to need every bit of support in the difficult months ahead.
I’ll continue to do my best to keep you updated as and when new beers are coming, so keep an eye as always on our various social media.
Cheers, Chris Hodgetts