Brewing, it's a business?
It's been far too long since I last had the opportunity to collect my thoughts and write a decent blog post. There are a few ramblings saved to my desktop and a few half-finished ideas scribbled in my notebook, so I figured I’d sit down, read over them and spell out a plan over the coming months and years.
We are proud to call ourselves INDEPENDENT. It’s a mainstay of who we are. It’s one thing that will never, ever change. It’s a firm commitment and one with roots on our farm; we are a family business and want to stay that way. I feel this is an important place to start this blog, as it helps to lay the groundwork for everything to come, so keep this in mind as you read on.
Firstly, a brief update;
After three months planning, twelve months of building and altogether too long assembling and testing, we finally have had a number of commercial releases of beer. In no particular order: Goibhniu(Limited), Succellus(Limited), Ironstone (Core), Granite (Core) and Gold Leader (Collaboration). We have Three separate strains of Sour beer under way as well as an incredibly exciting Collaboration with Cheeky Monkey Brewing and Wild Hop Brewing, both out of the Southwest. It’s an open ferment Barley wine utilising fresh Shiraz grapes…. Keep an eye out for some cheeky teaser samples. We also have our next limited release, an APA (Ace’s Pale Ale) utilising our new hop variety, FLINDERS. It’s going to be a hop bomb and I can guarantee it won’t last long.
We’re trying to grow our availability and tap list at the moment; if your local doesn’t have us, ask them to get our beers in! We are available direct from the brewery in the lower South West, or through Off the Vine wine distributors in the Perth Metro area.
Founders- don’t worry I haven’t forgotten you. I’ve kept aside a keg of each of these beers and will be filling your quotas once the canning line is installed!
Brewing, it’s a business?
The learning curves keep coming. The romanticism of Brewing is well and truly still there, however the late nights, cleaning and oh, cleaning, are starting to take a small toll. Did I mention paperwork? No…well there is a mountain of it. Which keeps growing. Compliance, invoices to send, invoices to pay, delivery dockets, delivery notes, purchase orders, sales orders, sales emails, emails, quotes, you name it, it’s in the pile on my desk. I’ve hardly even started selling beer and it seems a little overwhelming at times, the light is there though, as soon as I find time to clear the desk. Not that I’m complaining mind, just a little reminder to everyone who keeps saying how it must be ‘the life’ running a brewery. Well, it is, but there is some work in there too.
A core theme that I continue to touch on is SUSTAINABILITY. It’s something that I take very seriously and believe is integral to the future of both our own business and to the future of Australia. We are powered by the Sun and are currently investing in an expansion on our Solar/battery system to cater for the addition of our packaging line. As a part of this expansion we are also investigating the feasibility of the addition of a Biogas Digester and Combined heat and Power generator. This would be a massive addition and allow our entire farm to be run off-grid for electrical use, heating and very importantly provide a high value nutrient output for use on crops. Keep an eye on our progress here, it will be an exciting time for us if this goes ahead over the next twelve months. Sustainability isn’t just about electricity though, it’s about how we use and re-use resources on the farm. A massive drive at the moment is the expansion of our hop growing facility and yard- the only nutrient input for our hops comes from our dairy effluent. It’s a great source of the three key nutrients (for most plants); Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous. This year we have taken the step of composting the remains of our hop plants in a bid to re-use as a ground cover/mulch, in an effort to reduce our water use.
Further to this, we are doing everything we can to streamline and reduce our water use in the brewery, from reclaiming grey water where possible, to streamlined cleaning procedures and reduced chemical use, through to more efficient insulation on glycol lines and steam lagging to prevent heat gain/loss respectively.
To be truly sustainable an all-encompassing approach is required, from raw energy and material input, through to reducing use and reusing waste where possible. It takes time, yes, but the benefits to the environment are worth it (IMHO).
Can it be Canned?
So, our Canning line is due to arrive at the end of this month, though I suspect that it will more likely be at some point in June. This is huge for us as packaging will allow us a much greater distribution and hopefully mean more product out the door, thus more experiments and more cool beers! We’ve started a small expansion to cater for the addition of the canning line, which should hopefully be finished in time for the install! As mentioned, a big part of this is an increase in our solar capacity, to make sure we can run 24/7.
To the Future!
Our step-by-step goals over the coming year(s)
Cans!-In motion! Rationale; Provide ability to package and distribute. Cans prevent O2 pickup= more stable on shelves. Also lower transport costs.
1.5 Cellar Door (Busselton)-Build Underway! Awaiting final licensing approvals Rationale; Provides a dedicated venue for our beers, allows us to showcase our limited release products and get face feedback on our products
Hop yard expansion (Cascade/Chinook/Flinders/Goldings), Lab and equipment-TBC over winter Rationale; Cater for increased volumes. An increase in production will see the need for onsite analysis and the ability to quickly harvest, requiring the addition of dedicated harvest, drying and preserving machinery. Without dedicated harvest equipment expansion would have limited use as preservation would be difficult.
Energy Matters; Biogas/Bio digester. Fully Off-Grid and self-sufficient. - Feasibility underway. Rationale; A part of our Green Future initiative; we will be bringing the farm off-grid in a fully sustainable manner. Use of Dairy Effluent, along with other waste (spent grain) and waste from surrounding farms will allow the generation of Methane (natural Gas). This gas will be used in the production of electricity and heat for both brewing and the farm. A by-product of the generation of Methane is nutrient rich nitrogen and potassium fertilisers, creating a low net input system/closed loop system where waste is reused as power and nutrients- for cropping, hops and barley.
Maltings- pilot plant for Munich/Crystal malts (50kg capacity). -Investigating Suppliers Rationale; Malting is a science unto itself, integral to the brewing process. Spec malts are unique in compostion and require additional kilning (as opposed to pilsner/pale base malts). Small batching of Spec malts will enable greater depth to our recipies along with finite control over raw ingredient inputs.
Hop yard expansion II (Cascade/Chinook/Flinders/Perle/Super Alpha). Not on the radar yet Further expansion.
Perth Metro Cellar Door. Pending other items/directions. Further investigation and feasibility required to assess the potential/lack thereof.
I'll leave you with this photo of sunset last week....Enjoy!