It’s always busy in the brewery.
From morning until dusk, everything is constantly in motion – valves open and close, pumps whirr into life, casks are rolled past, stacked and forklifted away. Deliveries arrive – malt, bottles, cans – and are whisked into storage. The kettle (the small, electric one) seems to be always on – some days we drink more coffee than beer(!). It can be noisy too – every time we brew, our gas-fired brewing copper thunders into life – it boils the wort for upwards of an hour – 2000 litres of sticky, sugary liquid, imbued with hops – it smells amazing, but it leaves a serious clean up job behind. Carbon dioxide hisses out as we fill kegs and cans. Casks are cleaned, filled with beer and then sealed with a series of ringing hammer blows (ear protection is required). Alarms and timers beep and wail, keeping tabs on vital, time-specific processes or keeping our staff safe. Bottles clink as they are filled and stacked. The air compressor roars. Our tanks are hot, cold, blasted with caustic or gently filled with fresh wort. They are scrubbed, the floor is scrubbed, pipework is scrubbed, everything is scrubbed! Coolant chugs around wall-mounted pipes en route to fermentation tanks that can be as cold as 0°C during packaging or as warm as 35°C during our most vigorous fermentations. They are rarely empty. Malt bags kick out clouds of dust as we prepare for the next day’s brew. Spent grains and hops splatter the floor and are swept, scooped and hosed away. We chatter and laugh. Music is played – an eclectic playlist that encompasses our emotions and the activity taking place. Deliveries are loaded, made. The printer groans out online orders, customer invoices and brewing logs.
We brewed plenty of lagers (and something extra special) before Christmas – more on them next week (keep an eye on our socials). So with all our tanks filled with cold, gently fermenting wort, the brewery was briefly quiet over Christmas. Its really the only break it gets. For our small team, January is not a time of rest, but instead a time of planning and maintenance – everything is checked, cleaned again and catalogued. Spare parts are ordered. Worn valves, springs, seals and clamps are replaced or repaired. Over the years we’ve built up a lot of the skills that we need to keep the brewery running – the life of a craft brewer is one of constant learning – and our newly painted warehouse floor is a wonder to behold. But now it’s back to the work we really love – brewing and packaging beer – talking about beer, and honing our craft through the creation of new recipes, and the gradual optimisation of existing ones.
Another task to be tackled in January is our annual price review. The last two years have been particularly challenging, and I am proud that we have managed to keep our prices steady throughout the period. During 2021 we have had to endure price rises across all aspects of our business, with increases to raw materials such as malted barley, cardboard, and then all the other, well documented price hikes in energy, transportation and so on.
We work with amazing suppliers – like Warminster Maltings who supply the vast majority of our malt from their historic floor maltings in Wiltshire – and we have been working hard to absorb or otherwise mitigate these many price rises. However you will notice that some of our products have gone up in price by a small amount.
Your support has been incredible, and we hope you can understand the rationale for these increases. As ever, please do get in touch with us.
Padstow Brewing Co. GM