Thursday 28 February 2013

Coffee Stout... And the release of our first 3 testbrews.

We're brewing a coffee stout today and also, from 17:00 tonight at the Wheatsheaf, Llantrisant, you can come taste 3 versions of our bitter, Mosaic pale ale and Bad Monkey, a hoppy amber.

The bar recently...

Monday 25 February 2013

An ode to drainage channels.

Drainage has been the bane of our lives for the past three weeks due to matters completely beyond our control, and sometimes it seemed we'd never get a working drain....

Originally we had permission to dig a channel along the length of the brewery floor to empty into the drain out front of the unit; bish bosh, sorted.  We then discovered that this is a storm drain and can't be used for waste (it's rainwater only) and so we needed to vent our waste into the manhole out back which has involved digging an extra 15 metres of channel through rock-hard reinforced concrete, knocking a hole in the wall, digging up the path out back and finally routing it into the main drain.... put it this way, NEVER AGAIN will any of us ever build a drain!

Owing to the weight of the steelwork and vessels, raising the floor around a channel wasn't an option so we had to cut it into the reinforced concrete floor with jackhammers, smaller electric chisels, manual chisels and suchlike.  Now, after almost a month, we finally have a working drain which is concreted in and looking good!  And believe me, we tested it before concreting it in.

Apologies for labouring such a tedious aspect of the brewery when we're sure all you want to see are our smiling faces peeping from FV's and other brewing vessels, but to understand how difficult these seemingly small aspects of brewery setup are is to grasp just why it takes so long for a brewery to actually begin production...

Tom concreting in the channel and pipework.

Our sump, a miracle of ingenuity!

Gazza concreting in the channel.
Tom and Turk demolish the path out back.

Turk in the sewer... the lengths you have to go to!

Painting the floor and other more exciting things.

Bet it's not that colour for long...
The excitement continues unabated in Pontyclun as we've now painted the brewing level floor a lovely shade of "British Racing green" - it looks nothing like the photo in real life, but we're sure you can imagine it's verdant glow.

In other non-paint related news, the gas burners for the copper should be plumbed in this week along with, we hope, our lovely (and very expensive) new plate cooler which will mean - once a small amount of pipework is done - that we can think about brewing some beer!

Before that, however, we've got to give everything a mammoth clean and caustic wash, fix up the remaining handrails, plumb in the water, commission the cask washer, order said casks, get a palletload of malt, buy some saccharometers and a million other things which are required to be done before we can make beer.

So, the moral of the story so far is that if anyone tells you setting up a brewery is easy you have an absolute moral right  - nay, obligation - to laugh in their face.  Honestly, you do.  Just send them over to us and we'll do the same.

Tuesday 19 February 2013

Work continues...

The mammoth task of creating a working brewery continues apace and, thankfully, it's now looking more like it could actually be used to make beer!

The drainage is close to completion, the steelwork painted in undercoat ready for daubing with various luminous colours, the walls are in process of being clad with spray-down plastic and various technical things have been accomplished or are in process - cask washer, copper gas supply and jets, FV temperature control, CT cladding, extra hop supplies... you get the idea.

So, we're still hopeful that we can begin brewing in a couple of weeks, although this could slip a touch as there is still massive amounts to be done... watch this space!

The HLT and MT with newly-painted steelwork!

Welding one of the support beams

Saturday 16 February 2013

More testbrewing!

We did so much yesterday in the brewery - wipe clean walls nearly done, drainage almost sorted, steelwork undercoated, floor finished - that it's time to try out a few more recipes from the stack waiting to be brewed, maybe even two depending on time!

The spray-down wall cladding going on.

Monday 11 February 2013

Testbrewing !!!

Yes, you read that right.

We are testbrewing.

Not on the big plant, mind, but on Tom's dinky little 0.5BBL kit where we've already done our first brew and hope to do a couple more next week.  Whether these will be actually sold over the bar in the Wheatsheaf, Llantrisant (where we brewed them), or more prosaically tasted then dumped isn't yet known, but whatever happens we're happy to be trying out a couple of recipes we've got lined up for you just to see how they come together in "real life"!

So, just to prove it, here's some photos of us messing about with the pilot plant which will, once we're all sorted out, be installed in the unit and utilised for more testbrewing and also to produce some extreme beers which even we don't think we can sell a full brew of!

Back of an envelope indeed!

Hops, and plenty of 'em.
That protofloc worked well...
The SO5 kicks into action.

Hard graft....

Gazza, being someone who has been used to swanning around in company cars, sitting at keyboards and generally doing f-all for the last 20 years, is getting a rude awakening at present as we jackhammer a drainage channel into the concrete floor at the brewery which, predictably, seems to be made of super-hard concrete reinforced with way too many steel rods... it wasn't a Friday afternoon "bodgett and scarper" obviously!

These photos show the progress being made recently, and now the steelwork is almost all painted too it's beginning to look vaguely like a brewery in there now... next, once the drainage channel is completed, it's time to thoroughly clean the kit, assemble the copper's gas jets and insulation, wrap the CTs in beer line and then lag them ready for temperature control, construct the cask washer, make a malt hopper and pre-masher, pipe up the vessels... you get the idea!

At least it's all coming together now and we're hoping to be in a position to brew in a couple of weeks time.

Tom and Turk get to work on the Channel.

Work in progress...
Gazza gets stuck in.

Turk and Gazza tackle the concrete.

Grinding off one of the many steel wires.

Almost done !!!