It’s been a long time coming! Sorry for the radio silence guys- I hope everyone has kept up to date via my Facebook and Instagram posts. I’ve drafted this blog four times now and It’s probably worse than the original, so I’m just going to cut my losses and hope that this makes some kind of sense!
Before I go on, my deepest condolences to Debby, Georgia, Will and Cooper Hallyburton. Brad will be sorely missed and you are all in our hearts. Words are not enough to describe the pain felt by us and the wider community with this loss. Our strength and wishes are also with Rodney, Kelly, Fraser and Connor Oates- wishing Rod a speedy and full recovery!
So the past couple of months have seen a ton of progress here on site; with works in the hop yard, works on our harvest equipment and finalisation of our brewery building. Throw into the mix a trip to China for equipment inspection and a nasty bout of salmonella and it’s been a hell of a journey!
We’ve been pretty busy getting the hop yard and barley under control. All I can say is thank god it’s all done now(until harvest at least); 864 rhizomes in the ground from 12 varieties, upgraded fertigation, comprehensive nutrient management program as well as an ‘organic principles’ shot at ground covers/counter cropping along with two new age malt barley varietals in the ground. It’s been awesome fun reading and learning about these little babies, although the biggest lesson has been that seedlings and rabbits DON’T MIX WELL. I’ll leave that one there though. Rabbits aside, this gives us a great standing for the next season; our plan is to increase our hop yard from around 1.5 acres this year to nearly 5 next; this with the 12 varieties under plant, plus a few extras in the pipeline; things are looking good!
I’ve nearly finished construction of our hop dryer, utilising a 3kw industrial heater coupled with two standard bathroom vent fans and a series of drying racks, we are attempting to mimic a traditional oast on a much, much smaller scale. The idea is to dry the hops as quickly, but as gently as possible from a harvest content of 80-85% moisture, to a storage content of 8-12% moisture (varies by variety and proposed use). In order to do this, you need to be able to 1) control the temperature very accurately, 2) ensure that the hops in each drying rack will dry evenly and 3) very carefully monitor throughout the process. All things going well, my mini oast should allow a fair throughput and ensure even and gentle drying of the hops. Check out photos on Facebook, we should be finished this week and giving her a test run over the next few days! (For those of you wondering about how we measure the moisture- it’s actually pretty easy: using a control sample and set of scales you can measure the moisture content at harvest versus dry)
Our barley is growing strong under the expert ministration of T-Payne, with promising early signs. Work on our malting plant is coming along well, hopefully we can get a couple of test batches underway soon.
Earlier in the piece I mentioned a trip to China; well the exciting news is that after a couple of delays (mostly my fault; another learning curve) our brewery and cellar are ready to be shipped! As I type this 4 x 40 foot containers of brewery goodness are being loaded onto a container ship and should arrive in Fremantle early in October. Here is hoping that everything runs smoothly from then! Check out my Facebook page for some more photos! I’ll give a quick shout-out to Chalky from Wild Hop Brewing Co who accompanied me there to inspect the equipment- watch out for him, his beers promise to be second to none- well except maybe mine.
Again, a massive thanks to all of our supporters. You have made this process much smoother and infinitely more rewarding than it would have been as a lone journey. I can’t wait to share more of this with you over a few Frothies…..Stay posted!