Journal Entries

Small Writing Gig

As if running that there brewery wasn't enough work (believe me, it is!) I've taken on a small writing gig.

CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, have a quarterly magazine with a double page spread on homebrewing. The chap who's been doing this for a while now has decided to step down, and it seems I've been selected to take over.

It's only 1000 words every three months, but it should be great publicity for the brewery!

Discuss this Journal entry [8]

Latest reply: Jun 19, 2016

Getting A Bigger Brewery

So, last night it would appear I bought a bigger brewery. This is 24 times the size of my current one, and is installed in a railway arch in Manchester ready for me to turn up and brew. Just need to sort out the final details now, and then start brewing there!

Discuss this Journal entry [28]

Latest reply: Sep 2, 2015

That There Brewery's Too Small

I've run into a small problem, the brewery's too small.

Orders have been coming in from all over the place and I can't meet demand. Everybody is very relaxed about it, but I kinda feel I'm letting them down. Which is annoying really as when I set out to start up this brewery, the idea was that I'd be brewing to order with a full waiting list. Now that this has happened, I'm aware that I need to expand.

I don't just want to expand into a unit and hide the brewery away though, one of the things I've really enjoyed about running it so far is everyone's interest and enthusiasm in it. I think the fact that it's the same size as a lot of home brewer's kit, and gives them hope that they can go commercial too, has something to do with it.

But I want the new larger brewery to have some of this in it, I want other people to feel involved in it, and in its growth.

So while I'm looking to raise the bulk of the money needed in the normal way (loans), I'm also going to be offering crowd funding options. But I want them to actually be worth something! Too many of the crowd funding stuff you see is people just looking for free money with no real return on it. Whereas I want people to actually get their money's worth from it.

As an example, the entry level I'm thinking of would be £5, and would get the person a ticket to the launch party and a couple of free pints (maybe more if there's some going spare). £5 for a couple of pints is very cheap, however it would only be costing me a couple of quid to make. So whilst I'd be making some money on that level of investment, the investor would also be making something from it.

And that's how I want to organise all the investment levels, that you actually get more out than you put in, as well as getting the feel-good-factor.

The actual plans for what I want to do with the larger brewery are also kinda cool. I'm intending to install my current kit in it, and allow people to use it to brew their own cask of beer for parties, etc. At a price of course. I'm also intending to offer home-brewing courses on it, showing people that it's not as scary as it first seems. Also, I'm intending to sell malt and hops on to the home brewers. I'll be paying a lot less for them than they are, so I reckon I can make some profit there.
Additionally I'm looking at having both and on and off licence, and setting up an area as a bottle shop/bar where people can hang around, taste beers, see the brewery working, and generally relax, or can stop by to pick up some bottles of beer from pico-breweries around the country, as well as specialising in the Manchester breweries.

So there's lots of stuff I can do. I just need to find the right premises and the right kit, at the right price.

And then raise the cash.

Discuss this Journal entry [31]

Latest reply: Jul 15, 2015

Further News From The Brewery

The best laid plans of mice and men, will get remade again and again.

True Fact.

So, I've had a couple of dodgy batches recently. The fermenters I was using just weren't up to the job and the beer was oxidising before I could get it bottled, as I was also waiting on getting bottles in from another brewery.

This has all now changed.

Over the last week or so, I've been installing insulation panels in the garage, so the whole brewery will be temperature controlled. I've also bought some reconditioned air-tight plastic keg drums and have just finished converting them into fermenters. I've recently also bought a pallet load of bottles, which should keep me going for a while, and a load of ingredients. This may sound like a massive outlay, and it kinda is, but it's needed.

I've recently started to get attention for my beers, they've been constantly well received and I'm now getting orders for casks for beer festivals all over the country, helped no doubt by a recent article in Time Out that listed one of my beers as one of the seven best in Greater Manchester. There's 70 breweries here, so that should give you an idea of how many beers there are. Not bad for England's smallest commercial brewery.

The one small problem with all this is that I currently have no beer to sell. Which is why I've been sorting the brewery out ready to start brewing in bulk, constantly, until I either run out of space to store it all, or get so rich from the constant sales I can buy a bigger brewery, or just employ someone.

Either way, I'm sitting in the brewery yard with a glass of rather nice beer, a bbq crackling away, and mild panic that things are getting out of hand very quickly.

Discuss this Journal entry [24]

Latest reply: Jun 16, 2015

Can I get some sleep now please?

Since the last entry, way back in August, things have been happening.

So a quick catch up...

The first two commercial brews both had to get poured down the drain. There was a chlorine spike in the water supply which led to a chlorophenol infection in the beer. This gives it a sticking-plaster smell and taste, and obviously you can't sell that. Thankfully the third batch was okay, as that was for Mr603.

The fourth batch was a strong stout, and should have been absolutely fine left alone to ferment for four weeks while I went to New Zealand. Unfortunately the yeast went mad and by the time I got back it had turned to vinegar.

Not the best start to a business, but there you go.

Since then however things have gone better. I now have four regular outlets for the beer, with a potential two more. I've also just taken my first "commission" to brew for a member of the public who runs a bi-annual event, which is really quite a big thing for me if I get it. Additionally, a bar in Manchester (one I've never been in) has got in touch about getting some samples with a look to stocking my beers.

At the moment, I've got one I'm currently bottling, and then four more that are fermenting, one of which is almost ready to bottle. Until some of these are bottled though, I've run out of space. The problem being it's currently too cold in the garage/brewery for beers to ferment properly, so I'm having to bring the tubs into the kitchen, and there's limited space there. So my bottle neck really is the bottling side of things.

Hopefully though, by next winter I'll have sold enough beer to get an electricity supply out in the brewery along with more insulation for fermentation cabinets. So this won't be a problem.

Once I have got these bottles done, I'll be brewing a load more beer to create some bottle stock, and then I'll be able to finally start brewing for casks to go into the pubs. But at the moment, I'm at capacity when I can, and still can't meet demand. I just hope this keeps up after the "new factor" has worn off.

Discuss this Journal entry [6]

Latest reply: Feb 2, 2015

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