Saturday, February 10, 2007

Cooler head prevails

Greetings and salutations Beau's enthusiasts! Philip here; I usually don't do the blog updates but every now and then you go through something that you just can't leave others to describe for you so here goes…

A few weeks back we were graciously invited to attend an open house at a wedding resort to introduce our beer to the couples planning weddings there. The idea was that they might want to pre-purchase some of our beer for their guests, thus boosting our sales. It didn't seem like this would be an especially difficult event for us, and a relatively short day spent in the scenic countryside of the Ottawa Valley seemed like a great way to enjoy a weekend with my dad, brother and girlfriend.

The night before the event, Dad gave the dispensing unit a quick cleaning back at his house. The unit's a fairly simple construct;, 120 feet of steel, coiled inside a camping cooler, attached a tap, a beer line and a gas line. The beer travels through the coil, which is covered in ice in the cooler. So with a can of CO2 and a keg we can serve nice cold beer on a hot summer day just by putting some ice in the cooler.

Like I said, Dad cleaned the cooler for me. Up until recently we haven't really had much in the way of winter weather and that night before the event was the first truly cold day of the year. After cleaning the dispensing unit and giving it a water rinse, he left the cooler in the garage overnight, just like he always did. The unheated garage. On the first cold night of the year. Filled with water. See where I'm going with this?

I get to the hall and it's beautiful, there's a limo there, breathtaking floral arrangements, cakes and every other imaginable service a wedding could need. After a few minutes I've set up our display, I've tapped the keg and connected the gas, nothing left to do but enjoy my sales rep's privilege of testing to make sure it's still beer. So I pull the tap handle and absolutely nothing happens.

As I alluded to earlier, what was left of the water in the lines after my dad rinsed the system had frozen over night, plugging the whole thing up and rendering it useless. It took me awhile to piece it all together but even when I knew why the beer wouldn't pour, I still had no idea of how I was going to coax it out. People were starting to show up and I had an excuse by telling them, honestly, that we could not legally serve alcohol until 11:00 o'clock. That gave me an hour to figure out some way of getting the beer pouring.

The first thing I did was to turn the pressure up as high as I could, it was up so high that the release valve was blowing so I figured I'd better turn it back down before the whole thing popped on me. I called my dad, who was already on his way over and asked him to go back to the brewery and get the other dispensing unit. He made it ten minutes back towards Vankleek Hill before a call to my brother informed him that the other unit was unavailable.

After a few more minutes of head scratching, Dad had the bright idea to put it in the kitchen sink and fill it with hot water. We successfully dislodged the ice and we were back in business.

After repacking the cooler with what was left of our ice we had fifteen minutes of the beer pouring beautifully. All was well at Stanley's Olde Maple Lane Farm, the place was filled with brides and grooms to be and people were in great spirits planning for their special day. I was talking to one woman who had a few questions about what we were doing and so on when, from behind me, a girl calmly informed me: "Your cooler is leaking."

Leaking was an understatement.

Foam was gushing out of the top of the cooler. It was coming out so fast that it had actually managed to open the cooler on its own. Between the freezing, my cranking the pressure on the CO2, or some combination of both had prompted a piece of the piping to disconnect from the piece where the tube meets the tap, emptying the entire contents of the 20 Litre keg into the cooler and out onto the floor.

Luckily, we had everything we needed to reattach the pipe to the tap. We had also had the presence of mind to bring a second keg in case the first ran out so, once more we were back in business, for about an hour or so.

So to wrap up this fairly long entry in the annals of Beau's history, you can't judge an event's difficulty by its projected attendance, because the feared monkey wrench of fate has some of the most creative ways imaginable to jam up even the best and simplest plans. But, like everything else we've been through, we got through it together. And in the process we learnt an important lesson; apparently water freezes.


1 comment:

j james said...

Hope Phil at least picked up some tips for his upcoming wedding (picked a date yet??)