Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Looking at another "Oh Crap" Friday

To keep our beer as fresh as possible, we’ve been running a system that works like this: We get our orders in, filter only as much as we have on order, keg it the same day as it is filtered, deliver it the next day, repeat next week.

As sales have grown, we’ve been adding new delivery routes and more vehicles, but we always try to leave Friday as our “Oh Crap” day. As in “Oh crap, our downtown orders completely fill the truck and the cargo van, we’ll need to do another trip on Friday.” Or “Oh crap, our LCBO sales are twice as big this week and there is no way we’ll have enough filled for our Wednesday deliveries..so we’ll have to send out another vehicle on Friday”. Or today's “Oh crap, the truck broke down for the third time in a row and all we have left in the parking lot is a minivan, I guess we’ll have to rent a truck and send it out on Friday.”

It’s a good fail safe, but this week will mark the 5th consecutive week we’ve been delivering on Friday, which means we need to do something about it. So we’re hiring a student to do a few shifts a week bottling for us and it looks like we’ll be buying a new truck (boo) in the next week or so as well. Because if we don't, then the "oh crap" might start to mean "Oh crap, we're going to miss a delivery" and that's just not cool.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Installation Details

We’re making progress getting out fermenter(s) online. The first is getting hooked up now and the other three should be arriving next week (hooray). Here is a list of things that need to be done to bring a fermenter online:

1. Get the floors sloped: technically, this isn’t absolutely necessary, but ask a brewer that doesn’t have the fermenters on a sloped floor and they’ll tell you they spend their days chasing puddles.

2. Move things that will get in the way: This time around we’ve had to move a section of lighting and an overhead heater that would have been in the way.

3. Get the tank off the truck: We are buying from DME this time around, and they send the tanks in really nice, metal cradles, that make this part easy enough with a forklift, but in the past we’ve had to rent a crane to lift the tanks off the truck.

4. Get the tank vertical: Not as easy as it sounds. With our other tanks, we’ve done this ourselves, but with bigger tanks it was way too scary to do ourselves. We contracted local riggers to come in and it took a group of 4 people with two special forklifts about 4 hours to get the tanks on the sloped floor and vertical. There is very little extra ceiling space, so it was some finesse work to get it standing. One rigger had told us we would have to cut a hole in the ceiling to get these tanks in, and I’m glad we didn’t have to ‘cause its been cold outside.

5. Plumbing: The tanks we purchased have three cooling jackets each, so we need to run piping from our glycol reservoir to the inlet/outlets. Our plumber also needs to make sure that we have enough pressure in the line to keep the glycol moving through the extra distance or else we’ll need an additional pump. Luckily, our chiller is strong enough to keep up with the extra tankage, or else we would require more chilling capacity.

6. Electrical work: The tanks need to be able to turn the cooling on and off, so each one needs a thermostat and solenoids to turn the glycol on and off.

7. Acid Wash: To get the tank ready for action, it needs a heavy duty acid wash – kinda like when you acid wash your jeans, except not quite as 80’s chic.

8. Bits and pieces assembled: There are valves, racking arms, sample cocks (heh heh, shut up, Beavis) and the like to get onto the tank before its first brew.

And then change-o prest-o your tank is ready for its first batch of beer!

Monday, March 09, 2009

Bryce Day - 2009

So another Bryce day has come and gone. A very good friend of mine passed away March 8, 2004 after a long battle with cancer of the everything. Last year I donated my hair to make wigs for cancer patients and I haven’t cut my hair since. I was hoping it would grow enough that I could donate it again this year, but alas, it wasn’t long enough to donate it yet. Earlier this year I grew a mustache to raise money for prostate cancer, so a few more folicles for the cause just seemed like the right thing to do.

We also tried to decide at what point Bryce would have tried to climb inside our new fermenter. He was that kind of guy, it wouldn’t have been an ‘if’ but a ‘when’.

Anyway, a bunch of us raised a glass to Bryce again this year and talked about old times. Next year I think I’ll have a full fledged party at the brewery. Mark your calendars!