How do Dwarfs keep it clean?

Cask Cleaning Monday is in full swing.

Arguably one of the most important processes at our brewery, if the cask isn’t clean when the beer goes in, it doesn’t matter how good the beer was, it’ll turn rapidly. 12987184_1368894526531421_4570825565471702784_n

We start by removing all the cask furniture, shives, keystones, labels; then pressure wash inside and out. Next we scrub the outside clean with a caustic solution before giving it a blast with the pressure washer to remove the caustic.

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The cask is then moved to the cask washer where the interior is blasted with hot caustic to break down any biological matter such as yeast, dried on beer and the bacteria than can grow in these environments once outside of a temperature controlled cellar. 12718035_1368894963198044_6265847734726931135_n

The cask moves onto being rinsed inside with cold water to remove any traces of caustic and biological debris.

The last washing process involves the interior of the cask being washed with an acid to sanitize it before it is sealed for storage. This prevents anything else getting into the cask. 13007092_1368894563198084_2210268837815273914_n

Depending how long goes by between cleaning and filling the cask determines how much cleaning will need to be done again before racking. 13006660_1368894863198054_4153628320341345423_n

So there you go, another insight into the steps we Dwarfs take to bring you consistently epic ales.

 

Hail to Lincoln Green and it’s band of Merry Men

The similarities between Anthony Hughes and Robin Hood don’t just stop with a colour. Like that out law rogue from days gone by, the merry men and women at Lincoln Green are helping those in need.

At the beginning of this week we had a fairly serious problem for a brewery, we ran out of casks! Now as children from an age of 24 hour shopping and instant gratification the thought that you have to wait, yes wait, to purchase something is rather alien. We had planned to by some new casks, this time in our own colours (more on those in a few weeks) but were horrified to discover it would take 3 to 4 weeks! What are they doing making them? According to the very helpful Val at Brewery Plastics turns out yes, that’s exactly what they are doing and we’re in a queue. Even off the shell would take a week (the shelf was empty).

So, we scratched our heads and beards. Brewed a pot of tea and pondered. In times of need who is the man we turn to for advice and support, why it’s Anthony at Lincoln Green. I felt a bit embarrassed, begging bowl in hand, staring at the floor, on the phone.

“By any chance you wouldn’t have 12 casks we could borrow for a few weeks, pretty please?”

“Why yes good sir, just so happens that we rounded up about 30 of the little rascals and have no immediate need for them.” (Anthony doesn’t really talk like that, I thought it sounded better with dramatic effect).

“Really? Wow, that was very unexpected and fantastically generous of you. How many do you think I could fit in a car?”

“6”

“Bugger!”

“Although, if you want to do me a favour…?”

“Anything.”

“It just so happens…” (how cool is this) “…that sitting in a warehouse, 7 minutes down the round from your brewery, I have 15 casks waiting to be collected.”

“Seriously?”

“Indeed, collect them, clean them and they’re yours to borrow.”

“Amazing! Thanks Robin, I mean Anthony.”

And so, sitting in the yard of our brewery are 10(one had gone walkies and 3 are already filled with beer ) beautifully clean Lincoln Green casks. 6 of them will be taking our beer to the Robin Hood beer festival in a few weeks time and the rest will make there way home not long after.

So from The Fownes Brewing Co, a huge thank to the generosity, kindness and spirit of working together that typifies Lincoln Green Brewing Company.

 

Road Trip part one

Friday 3rd August. What on paper was a simple journey to collect some new casks and ingredients turned into an adventure of epic proportions. I say it was fun, Tom however disagrees. He will concede it was an adventure and by definition exciting but doesn’t believe that stretches to fun. You can decide for yourself.

Now, having done training to drive a minibus, it’s still been about 3 years since I’ve driven anything as big as a Transit van, but once behind the wheel of our beaten and battered hire vehicle it all came flooding back and was very comfortable. Tom’s comfort was soon disturbed by the lack of an AUX port on the stereo, but that was easily remeded by a pit stop at home on the way to pick up some CDs.

Once back on the road and heading for the M5 Tom’s horror was fully realised when the CD would not go into the stereo. The Stereo didn’t work! After a few tears and mutterings to God about why he would do such a thing to him Tom decided that the speaker on his HTC would have to suffice.

Making good time, Jane the sat nav, informed us it was time to leave the motorway. I’m not sure if we had told her we were in a large van whether she would have chosen us a different route, but the the next 30 minutes took us on what can only be described as roads suitable for rallying. Pretty views, but very bendy.

Feeling pretty impressed with my driving skills we finally arrived at what Jane confidently informed us was our destination. Now, I’ve been using a Tom Tom for long enough to know that they do not make mistakes, rather they can not be held responsible for user error. So, we are looking for a company called Brewery Plastics who manufacture plastic casks and clearly this would look like at the least a large industrial unit with a yard full of plastic products. We could not see this. So clearly we had made a mistake and were in the wrong part of a large industrial estate covered by a vague postcode. Therefore we did what any men would do and drove around aimlessly looking for unit 19 on the Urban Regeneration Park. To cut a long story short we couldn’t and ended up back where we started. Now, admitidedly it was called the Urban Regeneration Park but the only units were numbered 40 to 46 and were not the business we required. It was at this point that a chain of thought began to formulate in my brain that was not going to end well. I pulled over and looked at the large building next to the industrial units. I walked towards them and saw they were numbered, I saw unit 19, an office with the door propt open by a cask, made of plastic. I knew what was coming next and that Tom would not be impressed upon my return to the van.

Upon entering the office I was confronted by a man and woman, both on the phone and looking rather bored, but more importantly, confused to see someone in the office.It’s also worth pointing out that while there were lots of piles of paper there was not a stack of 12 new shiny plastic casks.

“Can I help you?” said the bearded man with a quizical expression.

“Yes, I’m from the Fownes Brewing Company and I’m here to collect my 12 plastic casks which I’m guessing are not here and I’m in the wrong place.” I say containing my frustration.

” You’re right, they’re not here. You need to collect them from the factory in Droitwich. You should have been told that.” was his reply not seeming anywhere near as bothered as he should have.

I should point out that at this moment I assumed error on my part but having checked all my correspondence this collection location was never mentioned or an address given. If it had I would not be relating this embarassing tale. Also, Droitwich is a damn sight closer to the brewery than Hereford which I’ve recently come to realise is the end of civilisation before entering Wales.

So, armed with an address and having to calm down an increasing irrate Tom (I am starting to understand his reluctance to accept that this day was fun as I retell the story), we decided that the next place we would visit was the ever charming and helpful folks at Charles Faram as this always puts a smile on our faces.

To be continued…