Friday 28 June 2013

Things moving along well

Here at Hopcraft Towers we've been beavering away making beer and trying to improve the general process of brewing which, with the exception of transfer to FV, is working pretty damn well.

We've now transferred Statement of Intent and Mosaic to conditioning tanks which we dosed with 2kg of hop pellets per 650 litre tank and topped them off with a CO2 blanket; now we wait a week until we see exactly what comes out - good things we hope!

We also did a finings test on both the beers and both passed immaculately which is, in these lands of gin-bright beer, a massive relief; they also tasted pretty good with no problems to be found so we're rather hopeful about their final prospects!

This week saw the brewing of Tidy Bitter - almost down to chilling gravity already - and Spanish Main Jamaican Stout with 15kg of luscious Muscovado sugar and peppercorns for that Caribbean flavour!  Next week will see another brew, probably something pale and hoppy seeing that we've brewed two non-pale beers this week, although both have decent amounts of hops in them - especially Spanish Main - which will sit on 2kg of fruity Bramling Cross hops next week.

So, now comes the hard part; selling the beer! If you're a landlord who wants to stock our beer then drop us an email at and we'll get back to you as soon as we can, thanks.

Here's a few photos from this week, as is customary!

The finings test - passed with straight A's!

Our new toy, an Ecofass keg.

Transferring Statement of Intent to CT9
Gazza looking very pleased with the transfer into the CT's!

Tuesday 25 June 2013

New casks!

First off, apologies I've not posted the photos from last week's first brew but, if you're that desperate to see them they're on our facebook page (although I'll add them here asap)...

We're brewing again tomorrow, so what better to arrive today than our metal casks?!? Good timing!

Thursday 20 June 2013

We have brewed!

I'll add a full report at the weekend, but suffice it to say we have brewed two batches of beer, "statement of intent" and "mosaic"!

Both brewdays went pretty well, a few minor things need sorting but we can now make beer.... So, in a few weeks, we will have to start selling it!

Very happy now and relieved it all works... And, more importantly, Hopcraft towers smells like a brewery now.

Saturday 15 June 2013

First brewdate : Tuesday 18th June.

You read it here first.

Barring any last-minute farces we are expecting to brew our first production beer, suitably named "Statement of Intent", on Tuesday.

We've now got the final parts we need to be able to circumvent the loss of our main wort pump (until it's back in a week or two) and so it looks like it's all systems go next week when we'll brew either two or three beers depending how the first one goes; expect to see "Spanish Main" and "Mosaic" following the first brew into FVs 1,2 and 4.

Monday sees us helping friends create a batch of homebrew for a wedding as well as the final preparations for brewday so, if that all goes well and everything checks out, we'll be mashing in early on Tuesday.  Follow @hopcraftGazza on twitter for up-to-the-minute swearing, ranting and general gibberish on the day...

Monday 10 June 2013

FV3 ready for action & other stories

First off, the reason we didn't brew last week - our leaking wort pump - is now at the pump hospital and undergoing some serious TLC or, in more technical speak, a full refurbishment and seal replacement!  This should hopefully mean that it'll last us a couple of years at least and will therefore be earning it's keep.

In the meantime we've been installing a computer, washing casks and generally getting ready for brewday so once the pump is back we can reconnect it, do a final water test and then - finally - get some beer made!  We're absolutely desperate to get brewing, even more so after visiting Cardiff beer festival last Thursday, so with a bit of good fortune we may get to brew our first batch this week...

One of the jobs we've been putting off was the commissioning and cleaning of FV3 (this was going to be FV4 but Dai the electrician wired it in as FV3 and it was too much hassle to change it!) so, being unable to brew, we instead used the time to install non-return valves on the cooler lines, run up all the chiller units and confirm the cooling coils on the FVs were doing their job; the tests all passed with flying colours (they brought the internal tank temperatures down to below 20c then shut off) and so pleased was Gazza with this he even got into FV3 and scrubbed it out, meaning we now have all fermenters ready for action.  

FV3 is our "reserve" fermenter which will be pressed into service if we need it in the future or at busy times, so to have it ready (apart from the outlet pipe and valve which needs to be made) is a very positive development.  It was previously used as the hot liquor tank at Iceni (hence the circular scratches in the bottom where the paddle once stirred it) but an internal inspection revealed it was in as good condition (apart from some minor scratching) as the others and so the cleaning went ahead!

We're also making a list of parts we want from AB Stainless of Hereford including a kegging connector for the conditioning tanks and level gauges on the CIP tanks; even though we're not quite brewing it's still all systems go down at Hopcraft towers.

FV3 after cleaning.

Saturday 1 June 2013

First pumpclips...

Gazza has just finished the pumpclip proofs for our first beers....

These things come to try us....

Bacchus certainly knows how to twist our melons....

Our first brew is so close yet we'll have to wait another few frustrating days... well, when you build your own brewery things have a habit of unexpectedly packing up on you!

First, the good news; our gas burners are installed and working!  Lighting them at present involves lying on the floor and using all 3 hands to hold a lighting flame, press a button and operate a lever whilst trying to peer at a pilot light through a slitty hole which wouldn't be out of place in the Maginot line... sounds difficult? It is, but until we get our "access hatch" made that's how it will be done!  But they're in and working, that's the main thing after weeks of anguish and frustration which (almost) made us wish we'd gone with electric elements.

The bad news is that, during the first "hot run" with boiling water, our wort pump decided to blow it's main seal and spray Gazza with 95c water which was greatly appreciated, I can tell you; how I laughed as steaming water soaked through my trousers...  The offending contraption will hopefully be fixed earlier this week but, with 20/20 hindsight, we should have got the pumps serviced before use as they'd been sat in a shed for 5 years which looks to have degraded the seals.  Hey ho.

Ah well, better to lose a few gallons of water than it to happen on our first brewday and lose a 9 of wort!

So, with yeast, malt and hops at the ready we're poised and ready to make some great beer!

At last, gas burners under the copper!!!

The offending pump, yesterday.

Testing the FV attemperation modules.