Friday 29 March 2013

FV chillers.

We've just collected 4 cellar chillers which we'll use for temperature control on the fermenters; we will wire them up to temperature control units so we can set the temp for each fermenter letting us chill them down once the yeast has done its magic.

Our 4 second-hand cellar coolers!

Monday 25 March 2013

The final push...

Work continues apace at Hopcraft towers with the lid for the copper being finished (well, apart from the hinges and handles), the steelwork being painted and hazard taped, the premasher amended to make it more efficient and various bits of stainless moved around to their final destinations to check it all fits where it should.

This week we hope to have finished the woodwork and maybe have the gas lines for the copper installed as well as, Bacchus permitting, the stainless pipework for the hotside underway.  Once that's done we really are on the home strait and so, that said, I'd better get to ordering the Saccharometers!

Here are the customary badly-posed photos you've come to expect...

The future conditioning room is tested out for size (and the tanks fit perfectly!)

Another view of the CTs and, far right, one of the CIP tanks.

Our stash of Weyermann speciality malts currently being used for the testbrews we're churning out.

The cask washer is almost ready for action.

The freshly-varnished lid on the copper with sprayball in situ.

Gazza busy (!) painting the uprights.

FV1 after yet another clean... 

Saturday 23 March 2013

A bit late, but....

... the first outing of one of our beers (apart from at the Wheatsheaf tastings) is Bad Monkey which may still be on at the Gloucester Beer Festival today; sorry, but the newsworthyness of this slipped my mind until now!

It's an amber brew with plenty of interesting German malts and lots of lovely Columbus, Citra and Galaxy hops.

UPDATE - Bad Monkey was one of the first beers to run out on Friday afternoon!  Cheers to everyone who came and drank it, if you want to feedback any opinions (good or bad!) then send them to  Cheers!

It certainly is...

Thursday 21 March 2013

We have gas!!!

We've finally been connected to mains gas and, so, once the copper's gas jets are connected up, we will be able to boil water and therefore begin caustic washing our vessels....

Suddenly it's all coming together.

Yes, we have gas!!!

Wednesday 20 March 2013

First testbrew at the unit!

Big news is that we are brewing today at the unit! Not on the main kit yet (although we are promised gas this week and our hotside pipework is being priced up) but on the trusty 16 gallon pilot kit. 
It's our Black IPA "Abrek" with citra, galaxy and mosaic, named after one of the first Russian monkeys into space. So now you know...

The first brew at the unit... on the pilot kit!

Mashing in Abrek Black IPA

Gazza with the "brewery stick"...

Saturday 16 March 2013

316 Stainless - ready for action!

Well, sort of... we've been cleaning all week and are happy to report that our copper is 95% ready for brewing and FVs 1 and 2 are as shiny as shiny things (3 and 4 still need cleaning, but that's the two big ones done...!)

We're still being promised gas next week and the guys are visiting to work out our hot-side stainless pipework so, once that's all done, we're getting very close indeed.

So, as is now traditional, here are the customary photos to show what we've been doing this week!

FV2 in all it's stainless splendour after a damn good scrubbing!
Gazza doing said scrubbing inside FV2...

The steps into the void... (inside the copper)
Gazza inside the copper.
And again, trying to get 20 years' worth of carbon off the bottom!
Tom's hard work on the copper shows - before (right) and after (left) nylon sanding!

And finally, our "waste hopper" in use!  This little contraption is used to dump the FVs into then it's wheeled across to the drain where the contents are disgorged!

Tuesday 12 March 2013

Two Lowara pumps in the van.

We've just driven out to the wilds of East Yorkshire to pick up 2 huge Lowara pumps for our mash and copper streams. Never used, still bolted to the delivery frames! £100 the two...

One of the monsters in the van!

Monday 11 March 2013

Not far off now....

Last week saw progress in many areas of the brewery setup, including - 
  • We now have a working water main,
  • We cleaned out the Mash Tun and jetwashed it's filter plates,
  • All FV's were jetwashed and found to have immaculate stainless inside,
  • "Tom's shed" (the grain hopper) was completed,
  • The premasher has been finished apart from the hot liquor pipework,
  • Said hot liquor pipework has been designed,
  • Two Lowara pumps have been sourced,
  • The steelwork has finally been completed along with the handrails and kickboards,
  • Marine ply lids have been made for the Mash Tun and Copper.
We're still waiting on the gas board to supply a meter, but once that's done we have the gas burners ready to install under the copper.  We are off to get the pumps this week and also see a man about the "hot side" pipework and so, once these two things are done, we are almost in a position to brew!

So, the light at the tunnel's end is getting closer.... stay tuned for more developments this week!

Here are some photos from last week to illustrate what happened...

Gazza with the just-scrubbed and polished HLT.

The newly-made Malt Hopper, or Tom's Shed as it it's now called...

The freshly-jetwashed Fermenters drying out.

Our new mash hopper and sparklingly clean HLT.

Not bad for a 40 year-old tank, eh?  Fresh from it's jetwash, FV1 sparkles!  The paddles will be taken out and saved for possible future use in stronger beers when agitation of yeast is required.
Inside the Mash tun, once again immaculate Stainless 316!

The newly made Marine ply lid on the copper being varnished with FV1 and 2 behind.

Gazza with the newly-made premasher and Mash tun.

Monday 4 March 2013

Progress Update - 4th March.

Things have moved on a lot in the past couple of weeks and it's beginning to look like the finish line is in sight albeit obscured a bit by cleaning and British Gas!

So, here's what we have achieved recently...
  • We have jetwashed 75% of the vessels and floor with the remaining Conditioning Tanks and Mash Tun are in the queue for tomorrow,
  • The gas board have finally admitted we don't have a meter and are in process of setting us up so we can have one (they insisted we had a meter until an engineer came out and discovered the cap on the gas main was last touched 15 years ago),
  • The gas jets for the copper are ready to be installed as are the insulation chimney bricks,
  • Electrics are in process of being upgraded, 
  • We've bought two second-hand Lowara vertical pumps for the mash and wort streams,
  • The Plate Cooler has arrived,
  • We've done a pipework diagram for the hot side which we will take to Hereford this week to hopefully be made / sourced,
  • The drain is working a treat!,
  • A cold store container has been located,
  • We have the temperature control units and chiller units for FV cooling,
  • The cask washer is almost ready for testing,
  • Testbrewing has been a huge success with the beers getting good reviews all round.
I'm sure there is more but that'll do for today!  Hopefully this week will see yet more progress towards being able to brew and we'll keep you updated as frequently as possible.

Sunday 3 March 2013

Testbrew launch night!

With three testbrews in the bag we thought it was time to see what the general public thought of our brews thus far and so we organised a "tap takeover" at the Wheatsheaf, Llantrisant on Thursday 28th February.

On the bar were three versions of the bitter; one "as-is" with no dry hopping, one dry-hopped with Bobek and one with Marynka, accompanied by our hoppy amber beer "Bad Monkey" and "Mosaic" which had been hopped in the FV with the luscious-smelling new US hop Mosaic, hence the name.

The evening was a great success and we garnered a good amount of feedback from beer lovers and "normal" drinkers alike.  The general consensus was that Bobek suited the bitter best (and a touch less colour), whilst Mosaic went down a storm with everyone and we sold the entire batch (13.5 gallons) in around 7 hours!  The incredible aroma of Mosaic was the star of the show - strawberries, peaches, pineapple - and we're hopeful we can reproduce that scaled up a bit.  Overall we were very happy with the way all the beers were received, so cheers everyone for showing up and drinking them!

Now to make the "big" brewery work and produce some fantastic beers...  thanks to everyone for the support and we hope to repay you in great beer soon.

The calm before opening!  A bit of quality control...

The first pint pulled!

Cheers to us...

A bit more quality control on the Mosaic, just in case there's something wrong with it.