Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Show your working.

Personally, I think it pretty likely that some pubs have closed since 2006/7 due to factors related to the smoking ban. That said, it's also clear that there's a downward trend in pub numbers that's been going on for a lot longer than that. This trend has been fairly steady since before 1980.

In other news: Of late we've seen the gap between prices charged in the on and off trade widen. I suspect that a lot of this might be due to those dang supermarkets.
Anyway, here's two nice graphs on the same x-axis.

Sources: IFS analysis based on prices and earnings data from Office for National Statistics / British Beer and Pub Association / I've jammed them together

I was prompted to post this following a comment on the previous post.

I'm not claiming that correlation proves anything - and anyway, the longer-term trend looks well established before the marked on/off trade price divergence really opens up. I guess it just goes to show that it's all a bit complicated really. I suspect that reversing the smoking ban (if such a thing were possible) would make f*ck all difference going forward.
Now, minimum pricing ...

Monday, December 28, 2009

Pub Closures and Hitch-hikers

You don't see so many of them around nowadays do you? Standing there, waiting, their cruddy signs cornering the eye, scruffy yet appealing. Pubs, that is. Some people blame the smoking ban, but we all know that's not all there is to it. How would that explain the missing hitch-hiker? Health & Safety? It's all connected. Everything is. Even if we pretend that we're not. Even though we were told there's no such thing as society. Individuals and families driving and (separately) drinking. We know that we miss it. Even if we won't face up to what it is.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And on the other hand, there's a fist.

Woolpack Dave had this to say recently:
"What remains as the overall problem is a continuing belief by the majority of the population that alcohol is causing many major problems in our society. This belief permits the government to tax alcohol at increasing rates, and the increase is something we should worry about, but the only way to prevent further increases is to look at why there is such widespread belief about the problems of alcohol harm." 1

He's right of course, if the majority believe this, their elected representatives will want to be seen to be doing something about it.

In an attempt to get this straight in my own head I'll try to break this down.

In the first place, "alcohol" doesn't cause any problems. It just sits there. It needs to get into a human before anything interesting happens. Alcohol (Ethanol, Ethyl alcohol) is toxic - it has well known toxic effects. 2

Take the brain for starters. The effects of alcohol on the brain are fairly well understood nowadays, but we need to be clear about the kind of alcohol exposure we're talking about. We can consider 3 main periods of alcohol exposure: Fetal, Juvenile and Adult.

Research suggests that the fetus should be protected from levels of alcohol that cause no particular problems for adults. Otherwise, we may see a range of physical, learning, and behavioral effects in the developing brain (none good). Some of these learning and behavioural disorders will be associated with significant costs for the individual and wider society.

Juveniles show some paradoxical responses to alcohol. They may be less obviously "intoxicated" in response to a particular alcohol dose that an adult, yet have at least as much loss of judgement and memory. Given that many young people are rather less risk-averse than we (adults) might wish - this is a wicked combination. Also, young people are developing behaviours that may stay with them throughout their lives. It's a concern that habitual alcohol use may develop, leading to chronic high exposure later.

How do adults drink? Some not at all, some sporadically, some steadily. Some in happy social groups, some in noisy gangs. Some savour alcoholic beverages in calm solitude. Some belt down a couple of bottles of cheap booze to escape dull lives, to shut out the hideous emptiness of existence, or the carping inner voice of guilt and failure. Some become prey to melancholy, some prone to violence.

At worst, drinking can cause terrible damage, to the liver, brain, heart and family. To deny this is to beg to be marginalised in the debate. It seems to me that alcohol consumption - the drinking of alcoholic beverages - does create problems, has costs. But many of us like our chosen drinks - we like the taste - we like the effects. We're relaxed, friendlier, funnier. We like the social benefits, the pubs, clubs, opportunities for meeting and interacting with our neighbours - and strangers. We even like the craft element of some of our drinks - some drinks even approach art. These are the benefits.

The new puritans, who choose only to see things in black and white, can only see "binge" and and abstinence. Self-denial or hoggish wallowing. For them, a world of cheerful moderation with episodes of saturnalian indulgence is unimaginable.

If alcohol consumption has some negative health and social impacts, can it be a good thing? The puritans say no. If we value the positives of drinking, should we deny the costs? We mustn't be backed into an over-simplified position in response to the simplistic arguments of the new-puritans. Drinking, like reality, is complex. A lot of people (if not all of us) find it hard to hold apparently contradictory ideas, but as Mayor Quimby said,
"It can be two things." 3

1. hardknott.blogspot.com/2009/12/contradicting-thought-processes

2. MSDS for ethyl alcohol

3. The Quimby File

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Another day in paradise.

Transits, as I believe I've said before, have got rubbish traction when unloaded. Round here the snow's been falling, thawing, freezing, falling again. We live up a bit of a hill. Put all these things together and getting the van out from, and back to, our house has been a bit irksome. The beer requires regular attention, so I have to go and nurture it, or clean something, every day.

The malt delivery came today, so I had to be there for that. I amused myself while waiting by washing a few casks. The Fawcetts truck turned up, a bit later than I expected (I'm not complaining - I was glad to see it), so we pulled all our malt off and stacked it. Then it had to carried it into the malt store (and stacked with the last few bags of the last lot on top).

So it's a bit late by the time I bung a couple of 9s into the back of the van and zoom off sashaying (chasséing?) through the slush to the Swan where I can unload a "West Coast Blond" (4.4%) and a "Black Flag" (8.8%). Yes it's out there... woo-hoo.

And then home, barely made it up the hill. Hells teeth. No beer in the house. Again

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

That'll learn me.

So, we finally got a chance to move the "big stout" out of the 18s it's been sitting in for six weeks or so, cosy-ing up to the whiskey soaked toasted oak chips. We've been looking forward to trying it. We've got quite good at what we call stout. Some black malt, roasted barley, you name it, we shovel it in, but I thought we'd better go easy with this one. I lost my nerve - I admit it.

It's turned out to have a quite restrained "aroma". It smells like beer. Well, maybe there's a touch of dried fruit and even a little bit of incense hiding in there. Taste-wise, there's raisin and black treacle (definitely) and some bitter burnt pepper (is it?). It finishes up with a warm spicy alcohol thing. I can't spot anything I recognise as oak at all. (What is that incense thing? Sandalwood? Is it the oak doing that?)

Anyway, it's very, very dark red-brown, it's 8.8% abv and it's called "Black Flag". Oh, and it's liable to make you drunk. So enjoy responsibly...

Tuesday, December 01, 2009


While changing around our fementer coolers, I managed (don't ask) to let some dirty water out of the cooling loop into FV2 , full of our West Coast Blond which I was going to rack tomorrow. Accordingly, I've had to dump the contents of FV2 to the drain. So if anyone wants WCB, and we haven't confirmed your order - you can have it, but not until the 16th Dec at the earliest (i.e. we'll be making some more tomorrow). Becky says this is coming off my wages.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Yay! Us!

CAMRA members across Cumbria have voted our No. 2 Stout
Champion Stout of Cumbria, 2009.

Thank you! You're absolutely right!

We have no beer in the house, so we're celebrating with a bottle of Ridge Zinfandel Paso Robles 2006. Yum.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

How green you are, how green you are...

We got mentioned by name by Woolpack Dave, so I'm afraid I had to comment on the eco thing. It's interesting how defeatism and selfishness seem to be so acceptable nowadays. Crikey, using the word "nowadays" makes me sound ancient. My old mate Bobby P sees a lot of selfishness and stupidity among the younger folk, and was often heard to refer to them as "Thatchers brats". Of course, they don't know what he means, because that would be history, innit.

I realise that blogs, and blog comments particularly, aren't really the place for reasoned argument, references, footnotes and shit. But hells teeth, the unsupported opinions advanced as facts... (by people commenting on Dave's interesting and thoughtful piece)

"Fact" 1. ...the more ethically-sourced and artisan the beer is, the less eco-friendly it's likely to be...

Well, this seems to be confusing efficiency with "eco-friendly". Let's imagine GreenShedBev are producing a unit of some artisanal product with 10 units of renewable power and 300 litres of water from a secure hydrological unit. Whereas the more efficient GlobalHyperBevCo can turn out a unit for 5 non-renewable power units and 295 litres of water from a threatened aquifer. See?

"Fact" 2. ...what you, I, or everyone we know does, won't make a jot of difference...

This is simply wrong isn't it? If there's anything to the Six degrees of separation thang, then between us, we know everybody. Just about. Or is the point here that it's the people we don't know - the others who will continue to upstuff things? So there's no point in us good folk trying?

"Fact" 3. ...hemp wearing anti global yogurt weavers an easy sting in the marketing dept...

What's so funny about peace, love and understanding?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Indulgence Or Innovation?

Beer festivals aside (it's difficult making a living off "festival beers"), non mainstream styled beers are a difficult sell. Should we blame the publicans for this? No, they have to buy what their regulars will drink. I have customers worried about a "Best Bitter" being too bitter, or a 4.4% being too strong. What should I do?

We need to sell the beer. The beer has to sell. So that we can make some more.

Perhaps it's just too easy to throw a huge pile of hops and malt into the big bucket, give it a couple of weeks, then sell a few 9s of novelty beer via Boggart. Perhaps this is a recipe for a "minimum viable product". Or it's not, and it's just homebrew writ large. Or self-indulgent toss. Or the beer equivalent of Dōjinshi, fan-fiction, whatever. Heck, I don't know.

Friday, October 23, 2009


I do, from time to time, drink vodka. I also occasionally have a martini. I do not make a martini with vodka. That's not a martini. Now we've got that out of the way, back to the vodka.

In our house we usually drink vodka from the freezer in tiny little glasses that Becky brought back from the USSR in the olden days. For these puposes I favour Stolichnaya, a russian grain vodka (you knew that). Not perhaps the smoothest, but works well at sub-zero temperatures (I love the way vodka goes viscous). I know some people prefer others - I can see something like Absolut being nice at higher temperatures. If you're mixing, why not Smirnoff? It's whatever floats your boat.

The point of vodka is that (to a given number of decimal places) it's ethanol and water. That's all. Although, funny thing, when a chum made some vodka out of HPLC grade ethanol and water, I didn't particularly like it. We drank it, sure. I guess that there's something in the vodkas I like (impurities that is) which makes them taste / feel different from a straight ethanol solution.

There are some vodkas out there that pride themselves on their purity. It's not a concept that I've ever been happy with. Frankly, it's not natural. It's got a sort of "tidy desk = tidy mind" vibe to it which makes me feel queasy. But that's probably just me.

It's the purity of vodka which makes it perfect for the marketing droids. There's really nothing there except the marketing, after all.

Speaking of marketing, jesusjohn pointed out (over at impymalting) the kind of thing that's involved in turning neutral grain spirit into a "billion dollar brand". Lots of skyy adverts here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

That big stout thing...

... is out of the fermenter and sitting in a bunch of 18's, along with some booze soaked toasted oak chips. I'm going to leave it for a few weeks, and see what happens.

It looks like our yeast did pretty well without special measures (apart from over-pitching a bit), in that we seem to have about 8.6% ABV at the moment. I suspect that if I'd roused it a bit, we could have hit 9%
Next time, perhaps...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sugar in brewing.

Recently there's been an interesting post by Ronald Pattison (xtreme beer-history buff) on use of "sugar" in brewing. In the comments following it's become apparent that some people hold very strong views on the subject. It's looking like one of those religious issues. It also seems that some people are quite confused about the whole thing.

Nowadays we use sucrose or invert sugar in brewing not so much for economy, but rather to allow us to control the fermentability of our worts. To understand how this works, it's important to be aware of the difference between what's commonly called sugar (sucrose) and sugars generally. It might be better to talk about carbohydrates really, but I'm comfortable with sugars v. sugar , so try to keep up. Wort carbohydrates include the monosaccharides fructose & glucose, the disaccharides sucrose & maltose, maltotriose (a trisaccharide), and more complex sugars (often called dextrins). Our yeast can only eat fairly simple sugars - the 'mono' and 'di' saccharides and some others.

A typical British Pale Ale wort with an original gravity (OG) of 1040 might contain a little more than 9 grams of sugar per 100 millilitres, of which less than 7g will be fermentable (including 0.5g sucrose - table sugar). This leaves something like 2g / 100ml of the higher sugars to contribute to taste and body in the finished beer and final gravity (FG) of around 1008.

Broadly, we can say that a beer with high levels of unfermented sugars will be sweeter, with more body than a beer with relatively low levels of these dextrins. But of course, we don't always want sweet beers with lots of body. Indeed, Belgian brewers speak of the digestibility of their beers, by which I guess they mean the relatively light body (considering the alcoholic strength) of many of their offerings. Digestible beers don't fill you up. A relatively light body, with dryness are also characteristics of some British beers, it's part of what makes our session beers so sessionable - so how do we go about achieving this?

To a certain extent we can control the fermentability of the wort by controlling mash temperature. The various enzymes in the malt have different optimum temperatures for their actions. So a little bit warmer (say 67C) might give us a less fermentable wort (lower proportion of fermentable sugars), while a bit cooler (64C) might give us a more fermentable wort leading to a drier (thinner) finished beer.

We can also make a difference by our choice of yeast. Yeast tends to consume sugars in sequence. It's like a child eating the chips first, then the sausage, followed by the beans. So the simpler sugars are utilised first, the more complex ones (which require the mobilisation of more yeast cell machinery) only when the easy stuff is used up. A yeast that's highly flocculent, i.e. falls out of suspension quickly, will tend to leave a higher proportion of the more complex sugars unfermented, even though it has the right machinery. A less flocculent yeast might produce a drier beer, by hanging around for long enough to have a good go at all the fermentables. Some yeasts are constitutionally unable to use maltotriose - they just don't have the tools for the job.

We can control the fermentable / unfermentable balance of the wort by directly adding fermentable sugars while keeping the OG the same (i.e. reducing the amount of malt somewhat). We can chose to add mainly simple sugars, a useful technique allowing us to use more flocculent yeasts (good for producing clear beers in a short time with simple equipment), without leaving too much unfermented at this stage.

This is the basis for brewers adding invert sugar to their wort. Invert sugar is sucrose (table sugar) which has been treated to break it down into glucose and fructose. This is often done by heating an acidified solution of sucrose. It's Quite Interesting to note that as the hydrolysis proceeds, the optical properties of the solution change, with more fully hydrolysed solutions rotating polarised light in the opposite direction to a sucrose solution - which is why we call it invert sugar...

The fermentability of commercially available invert sugars seems to be in the range 94% - 99%, although some of the really dark ones, which will have more unfermentable stuff in them, will be less fermentable (90% or so). Other, starch derived products can be got with more or less whatever fermentability you want, and are commonly used as brew-length extenders (which is a good way of saying profit enhancers).

Anyway, throwing good old sucrose into the boil works well (although you'd be advised to make a solution / syrup up first unless you particularly want to be chipping burnt toffee of your elements all the next day). In the acid conditions of the boiling wort a proportion of the sucrose is hydrolysed for you. I should think.

Friday, September 18, 2009

That time of year again.

In Ulverston (where we are) there's a sort-of dress-up weekend during which the out-going types are encouraged to wear clothes harking back to the 1850's (approximately). Given that we aren't really dressing up kind of people, our contribution to the Dickensian Festival is a strong ale (6.5%) called (as a nod to Dickens) "Genuine Stunning", and that's what we're making today. Last year, we didn't sell any to anyone in time for the festival, but at least we knew.

There's a free pint for the first person to spot the secret ingredient. But you'll have to wait until November before we let it out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

A Modern Porter...

... is what we're brewing today.

There's an awful lot of guff stuff written about porters. The point's been made (elsewhere, at length), that they're historically interesting - blah... blah... the first truly industrial British beer. Early porters were great, later ones - mass produced bastardisations of the lovely brown beers that pre-dated them. Blah. But we're not a historical reconstruction society (there are family members who were in Ye Sealed Knot so we've a real feel for the hideous awfulness of that phrase), hence we'll be making a modern porter called (confusingly perhaps) "Revival Porter".

There's a lot of really good beers out there called "porter", it's a very broad church nowadays. Good.

Ours should be: On the brown side of black, about 4.7%, slightly sweet with a fruity chocolate aroma, moderate bitterness and a dryish finish. Or something. Anyway, it's in the fermenter now, and I've chucked in some yeast.

Good news: The new pumps for the cooler arrived! We got two, so now there's a spare. Of course, something else will go next.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

That beer's so last month.

Brewers usually put a best before date on containers as they go out of the place. It's pretty usual to only consider requests for returns (ullage and that) for stuff before the best before date. It's also usual for retailers to require a sensible amount of time in which to get around to selling the beer - 22 days would be a typical request. Wholesalers might want a month.

In effect the brewers are warranting that the beer is going to be OK up to the date, but anything might happen after that (explode, go sour, taste of goats, etc) for which they won't be held responsible. Some beers will keep for ages: Strong beers, dark beers, and particularly strong dark beers. All live beer will change as it ages, and for some beers this will be a good thing, for others a bad thing. We condition our weaker beers for at least a week before they go out, so they'll be fit to drink as soon as they're vented and drop bright. We'd normally suggest that they're drunk within a couple of weeks after they get to the pub - these are beers meant to be enjoyed while they're fresh. As they become aged the lower alcohol pale beers can tend to dull a bit, still good - but not as good.

The bad news for the day is that the recirculating pump on the big chiller has packed up and that we don't have a spare. Let's see if we can get a new one by tuesday, otherwise we'll have trouble cooling down the fermenter full of Golden.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Normal service resumed.

Well, pretty much. We did some Best Bitter tuesday, and today we're doing the West Coast Blond. "Oooh", you might say, "Push the envelope why don't you". It's beer we need - to sell - the stock is looking a bit depleted. We had our "production meeting" and have pencilled in something (well 3 things) more experimental for the rest of the month, about which more later.

Jeff Pickthall came to see us today, so Becky had to prove she can brew while I chatted. Very relaxing it was, and of course (in spite of her tiny hangover), everything went fine. While talking, I was reminded of visiting herself when she was working in Belgium. Now that's a place where it's just about impossible to get truly bad beer. Apart from all the super-lovely beers that everyone goes on about, even their cooking lager makes our cooking lager look stupid. The Stella is actually quite nice and Jupiter Jupiler (which seemed to me what most Belgians actually drank most of) takes Carling outside, beats it up and steals its girlfriend.

P.S. I'm adding this (7.9.09) to admit that I haven't been to mainland Europe (except to change planes) since 1995 - so I don't really know what I'm talking about anymore (if I ever did).

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Brewing again.

After much cleaning, we're ready to brew again - so let's!

I say we, but the rest of the gang don't get back until tomorrow, and I'm sure they'll be going straight to bed when they do, what with the jet-lag and the swine flu, which they'll probably catch on the plane and then give to me...

So I'm brewing. That is, I'm supervising the machinery as it mashes-in. Actually, that's making it sound terribly high-tech, and it really isn't. We have a simple hydrator cobbled on to the end of a electrically powered auger - so once the malt's in the hopper and the liquor flow is adjusted there's nothing much to do while it all falls into the mash tun. But I do like to keep a lookout for odd bits of metal, mice, etc. falling out of the works.

Anyway, there I am, ear-defenders on (the auger makes a terrible racket), I glance round and notice a local publican and good customer has crept up on me. I jump, he laughs. He (let's call him Mr. X.) wants some beer, and of course I'm happy to oblige.

Mr. X runs a small country pub, popular with the locals - it's a genuinely rural area and everyone's been working long hours cutting stuff, or feeding / milking stuff, or whatever these rural types do all day (and half the bloody night it seems like, in the fields behind us - but that's another story). He tells me he's had the worst two months he's ever had. His business always quiets down in the summer, and while it's a really nice spot - it's not a tourist destination. The games - the darts, pool, etc. are out of season. He's done a lot of work fixing up an outside area - nice tables, set up for barbecue - neat, but the weather has been really disapointing. It's a bugger really.

Funny thing is, Mr. X's pub is only about 30 mins walk from my house down quiet country lanes, but I never go. Truly, the biggest problem with the world is people just like me. That's the problem with the roads - it's not Polish truckers or bloody caravans - it's all the other cars (and vans). That's the problem with the environment - too many people consuming and discarding the way we do here - and more, doing it more like us, every day.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Yes, I love the NHS too.

In the UK, we spend something like 8.4% of GDP on healthcare, much of it through the NHS. In the USA they spend 15.3%, mostly through private medical insurance.

So they must be more loads more healthy than us? Probably about twice as healthy? Right?

As it happens, incorrect.

In the US you've got 8 chances in 1000 of dying before you're 5, in the UK, 6:1000.
In the US you stand to get 67 healthy years life (men) and 71 (women). In the UK, 69 and 72.

So where's all that extra 6.9% of GDP going? It's clearly not going on keeping people healthier. I suggest that much of it is enriching the bloated capitalists who are trying to talk down state-supported non-profit healthcare.

Don't take my word for it, check it out yourself.

Also, check out these neat graphs. The second one is a great example of the law of diminishing returns.

And here's more stuff on similar lines.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Brewdog - good turn but on too long?

I had some of their beer once, I thought it was quite nice. It reminded me of staying at the in-laws, when I often drink more than I should of Rogue and Flying Dog and that kind of stuff. Anyway, it looks like they (Brewdog) are winding up the Portman group. Again. And again.

It's a bit sad that we can still get all worked up when someone with media skills and that pushes a strong beer. Wind us up and watch us go eh?

Monday, August 17, 2009

All alone.

Becky has taken the boy off to see his grandparents in California (here). That means that I'm stuck here keeping things ticking over. Now obviously, that means I should be really busy - this is one of the times when we should be on the phone selling beer, but with herself away that job falls to me, and I really am rubbish at it. I find it terrifically stressful.

My mother was a primary school teacher and not naturally given to putting herself forward. Which was a pity really - as she had a lot of things worth saying which she often left unsaid. Now, I would find a classful of eager (or not) faces quite intimidating, to say nothing of the parents and the rest of the staff. I asked her how she did it, and she explained that for her, it was a kind of acting. You have your lines and your props to help you with the public performance aspect, and once past that you can concentrate on the part of your work that does come more naturally (if not more easily). This is, of course what teachers do, I know that - but I needed to be told it, before I knew that I knew it. Dig?

I'm sure that this is a fairly obvious strategy for coping with life - I'm sure that most people do this, either consciously or not. I believe that some of us fail to develop these strategies in a natural way at what I suspect is an unconscious level. So we have to laboriously construct coping mechanisms at some significant cognitive effort.

Becky does occasionally suggest that I might be a bit "spectrum", and while I suspect that there's an element of pot / kettle there, she might be right - there's something called hyperlexia which looks a bit familiar (oh, google it yourself), and while I seem to be quite dim nowadays, this wasn't always true (while you're at it google grep "giftedness"). Did I tell you I used to work in IT? I wasn't very good at it...

Co-inky-dinkily, Professor Tony Monaco (great name or what - how does he find time for all this smoking B3 playing?) at what I might (if I push it a bit) call my alma mater has done something or other about the genetics of autism

Fortunately, the beer has started to sell itself - we now have customers who call us. Thank you very much, phew.

There wasn't very much about beer in that was there?

Sunday, April 12, 2009


It was an experiment. Can I get our van (half full of beer) over Hardknott pass?

The Lake District is famous for having a large bunch of pointy hard things in the middle, with a number of large flat wet things scattered about between them. This makes for some very attractive views, but it can be a beggar to drive around. Getting past all these obstacles is troublesome - you'll use a lot of diesel and time if you stick to the good roads.

Getting from Eskdale to Langdale was the problem - and Hardknott pass could have been the answer. I've been over there in all sorts of beat-up old cars, vans and mini-buses in the past, and while it has been hairy at times, I've made it. Unfortunately, this time, quite a lot of water was running over the road surface, and one particularly smooth wet patch at one of the wicked hairpin bends proved too much for the limited traction of the (usually trusty) old rear-wheel drive van.

"Oh dear", I exclaimed (or something like that). Still, all I had to do was reverse a couple of bends and then I'd be able to do a 3-point turn and scarper. Sadly, on one of those bends, I lost it a bit and put one of the rear wheels off the road. At this point, I exclaimed something a lot more forceful, because now I was pretty much stuffed. With one of the driving wheels spinning uselessly in mid air there was no going up-hill. Equally, there was no going down - unless I wanted to career down the slope into the gill. At least I wasn't blocking the road.

A few hours later - when the tow-truck arrived - I was borderline hypothermic, really bored and running rather late. So I had to belt back down Eskdale, over Birker fell, up the Duddon and on to Wrynose. The beer did get through, and we had an answer to the question posed above: Our van won't go over Hardknott - at least not in the wet - Maybe I should try again in the dry?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the road... and on the phone.

The plan seems to be coming together. We're managing to time all our beers so that we can get them out of the fermenters in 6 days - this means that we can brew twice a week, do the cask washing, racking, selling and cleaning - and have time to actually deliver the stuff.
How much easier it would be if (as others might say) "three days to ferment, three days to condition and on the seventh day it's ready'. What we make here is genuinely cask-conditioned beer (real-ale if you will). We know that many of our customers don't want our beer hanging about in their cellars for a week or two before they can start selling it - this means that we have to hold the casks in our store for at least a week after racking (longer for our stronger beers). But that's fine by us - we're not pretending to make real ale. This is the real thing.

Anyway, time & yeast permiting, you'll be able to see the Stringers beat-up red transit belting about the lake district full of lovely beer.

Funny thing happened to our sales team (n=1). While enquiring of the bar manager of a lakeland hotel if they'd be interested in trying some of our beer, we were informed that there were now too many breweries and that, no, they would stick to the ones they knew already. I've been sniggering (at odd intervals) about this all day. I shouldn't laugh - it's serious really. But I'm tickled by the idea of someone saying that (a) his customers have all the choice they need, thank you very much, and that (b) he has enough suppliers competing for his employers custom.

Truly, as Eldridge Cleaver may have said: if you're not part of the solution - you're part of the problem.