Well, after 4 and a half years of brewing, it's finally happened; we've reached some sort of maximum throughput at Hopcraft Towers!
Well, I hear you say, "some sort" is a bit vague, is it or isn't it at capacity? To which I answer "sort of".... and I'll explain why.
We have 4 fermenting vessels, 2 of around 2500 litres and 2 of around 1800 litres (I say "about" as they are 40 years old ex-dairy tanks and we have no idea on their actual capacity except from experience of filling them with beer, so it's a bit vague) and 12 conditioning tanks of 680 litres each. One "normal" brew fills 2 tanks whilst a "big" brew fills 3, with usually a bit left over for playing around with.
Thus far we've always had tanks free to move beer into from the fermenters because we've racked beer into cask/keg then cleaned the tanks ready to receive more. The issue we're now having is that we have beer in the fermenters ready to transfer and are right on the limit of how many conditioning tanks we have free, which is admittedly a planning issue, but also dependent on things such as enough clean casks to fill up and enough hours in the week to actually do the racking of casks!
Until earlier this year we kept one of the tanks unused (for a number of reasons, principally it had a dodgy CO2 injector valve) but it became apparent that we needed all 12 in use and so completed a project to bring CT1 into service. All well and good, but now we've come to the point where we have beer in the fermenter ready to move down into tank but no tanks available to receive it....
The "board of truth" shows that we have three beers in FV, two of which have been fined and are on chill (both are below 8°c now) but only two CTs available for filling, and those need caustic washing first (denoted by the red crosses). Two tanks have been dry-hopped ready for racking this week (2 and 6), but this can't be done until Tuesday as the dry hops need time to infuse into the beer, and we're realising that we need to allow more time for this to happen so it can't be rushed!
Therefore, there's no option but to wait until Tuesday to transfer Idaho7.... this is a couple of days longer than I'd like, but sitting on chill won't do it any harm so no dramas! However, it's nice to see that we're producing close to capacity, and it's also good to see where the pinch point is in our production process and that we need to increase our conditioning tanks in order to be able to throughput more beer....