Finally it is beginning to feel like winter in Cape Town with short days, rainy and cold weather. With that we have also made it through half of the year. As always we are not exactly where we wanted to be, but looking back it actually went OK. So far it has been a good, interesting and challenging year.
From the start we knew this will be a challenging year. The main contributing factors were the following:
Dialing in a brewing system ten times bigger than our previous one is quite an interesting process.
With a much bigger system comes all sorts of complications to other tasks that used to be pretty simple. The coordination and details surrounding ingredient orders, bottle orders, screen printing, tag printing, tag assembly and bottling itself moves up a couple of orders of magnitude.
With that comes the financial implications. Each batch is quite an investment and cash flow is a bitch to say the least. (It is at this point where I have huge respect for the big boys skillfully managing this complex thing called "cash flow"; and I am VERY glad that we are pretty small and have not over-invested in our operation.)
Juggling a brewery with demanding day jobs and young families is no easy task. Adding the fact that one of the owners is busy completing final exams in orthopedic surgery makes the juggling even more tricky.
Very similar to 2015 we had another burglary at our brewery in the last month. The brewing operation was lucky as it did not loose any items. Our distribution partner on the other hand was not so lucky and lost quite a bit of dispensing equipment. Once again we had to beef up security and fork out some unplanned cash in the process.
We know our building is in a gritty part of town, but the lack of respect for other people's property and possessions in this area... actually it applies to our whole country... is a problem. Combine that with a strained police force and a legal system that cannot cope, then you have a mess of a situation. By the way...If you are reading this and one of those people who say our crime problem is because of poverty, the wealth gap or the previous political system, etc. I suggest you stop reading.
It is not!!
It is because of a lack of respect for others; a huge drug problem in our province; a failing education system; empty promises from politicians; a lack of consequences for offenders and in general a failing state where our taxes are not spent properly.
Anyway... Enough bitching for now. We will just get through this as all South Africans do. Guess we have all become hard-asses in this country. Make a plan and move on...
Now back to beer...
We are glad to have our new brewhouse running. The whole setup is not perfect yet and we have not quite found our rhythm on the new kit, but the beer is progressively getting back to where we want it.
To recap on beers so far brewed on the new kit.
Batch 1 was a single hop APA with Cascade. The young beer was not what it should be. Our temperatures were a bit off and it seems like the pH was not where we wanted it. Now... After a number of weeks in the bottle the beer has lost it's green edge. It is good, but not up there with what we would like it to be.
Batch 2 was a more aggressive beer. IPA with Apollo, Columbus, Centennial & Cascade.
With this one we hit the temperatures spot on and the gravities were exactly as intended. The pH is still a bit out of whack and it had a slight affect on the hop flavour, resulting in feint phenol flavours coming through. The pH also messed with hop utilisation and the flavour combinations a bit. The beer is good, but it can do with a little tweaking. The longer it stays in the bottle the better it seems to be getting. Not perfect, but at least it does not suck.
Batch 3 is the latest one - a single hop Black IPA with Centennial hops. We hit the temperatures & gravities spot-on and the pH was back to normal. So far it is tasting good from the fermenter - hop character is good and the roasted grain notes are minimal, as it should be.
Slowly but surely sales are also stabilising and getting back to normal. Soon we can put more momentum into expanding our footprint.
The next couple of months will be tricky with work and study commitments, but after that we can focus on summer and the usual end of year beer craze. For the last two years all the breweries with decent following and good beers could not keep up. Two weeks into December many beers were out of stock. This year is set to be no different...
For now we would like to say thanks to everyone for their support and patience so far. It is great to hear when people enjoy our beers. We take our beer personal. Hopefully we will bring you many more beers to enjoy.