Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Another Expansion

I haven't blogged for a while so it's past time for a post: This isn't the usual biting insight though, just an update on our current expansion and where we're going with the brewery and the beers.

Some of you may already be aware that we decided to expand the brewery again, it's only just over two years since we more than tripled our fermenting capacity, in the face of demand which pretty consistently outstrips supply.

The plan, which is well underway, will see us move everything except the office and the brewery itself off the site at Great Heck to a new refrigerated packaging site and warehouse in the neighbouring village of Balne, about three miles away. This will allow us ultimately almost to double our fermenting capacity at Great Heck, and will instantly give us an extra 20 brewer's barrels per week of capacity.

This will be achieved by converting our two existing 12 barrel conditioning tanks into two 10 barrel fermenters. Our existing procedures see all beer spend some time in one of the CTs before being racked into casks and this will still be the case using a fleet of 800 litre mobile Stainless Steel CTs which will be filled at Great Heck and taken, for storage and emptying into the appropriate containers, on a trailer to the new site which is currently being specially adapted for that exact job.

The logistics of this sometimes strike people as a little far-fetched but in fact it will eliminate many of our operational problems here at Great Heck. Notably reducing manual handling and it will give us a much better chance of filling the correct casks with the correct beer, thus giving more efficient utilisation of our container fleet.

Cask washing, vehicle loading and storage are also being moved to Balne which means I should get my back yard back! Other positive results are that we will be able drastically to reduce the number of vehicle movements in the village of Great Heck and in addition to an extra fermenting room, which is currently used for cask storage, we will be able to develop a staff canteen and visitor centre/bar at Great Heck in one of the current coldstores.

A new Role is being created as part of the project. Whilst Jarno @drumlordsj will be in charge of production at Great Heck, Karine @3somegirl will be promoted to Overlord of Balne where she'll be working with new boy Barry Weetman and our new drayman, Ged.

The extra space at Balne means we are going to be filling our own keykegs and there's a possibility of doing our own bottling at some point in the future as there is potential to expand our new premises when we are ready. Keykeg products will start off with Yakima IPA, Shankar IPA and Black Jesus. We'll also soon be kegging Amish Mash in proper Steel kegs and making it available to pubs looking for an alternative to the ubiquitous permanent German Weizen.

Thanks to all our lovely customers, now in the UK and abroad, we are experiencing huge demand and we're really looking forward to being able to come a bit closer to meeting it. Hopefully our beers should be just a little bit easier for you to find in the coming year. I hope you enjoy them.