Saturday, 3 November 2012

We're in!

Signed the lease on Wednesday 31st, with some comedy moments when the landlord's solicitors sent us round the corner to another law practice to make a statutory declaration under the Landlords and Tenants Act 1954. Round the corner were just coming back from a fire alarm evacuation, so fifty people were queueing for the lifts. Quite a lot of laser-printed jargon in the lease, bound carefully in a sort of plastic-riveted thing. One would wonder what the Campaign for Plain English would make of it? Might be worth a Muddy Mark, which is an award I've just invented, as opposed to the Crystal Mark which the CPE awards.

Got the keys on Thursday, and took the essentials along - kettle, teabags, soap, towel, loo can see from this picture that the building has a lot of potential:

"Potential" is of course agent-speak for "a dusty hole", but we were carefully balancing location and rent when we selected this place. I wanted to be able to cycle to my new brewery, in less than an hour from home, and one of my co-conspirators wanted it to be reachable from Clapham Junction, to make his journey easier.

Yesterday we spent most of the day there. We've made some of the water system work, so there's a flow of cold water from the taps which barely dribbled before. We'll have to wait for an electrician before we can have hot water as well. Some of the water pipes have been installed with more enthusiasm than sense, but I've known for a long time that a plumber will often put a pipe where it's convenient to install instead of where it might be unobtrusive. The co-conspirators have taken down the unfinished office stud partitions on the mezzanine, and on Monday we'll be meeting the man from Building Control at the council about that mezzanine wall with the forklift holes in it. We want to take it all out and just have a safety rail across, like a balcony, with a gate for putting pallets of malt up there with a forklift truck.

Imagine that far corner boxed-off as the cold store, for maturing bottle-conditioned beers and casks, and the space through the archway lined with tall shiny fermenters. Some of the middle of the picture will be taken-up with the mash tun, its water heater, the boiler, the control panels....and the floor will be covered in a hygienic screed, perhaps in a tasteful blue.

There may be a bit of a race between getting the floor laid, and having time for it to cure; and the major brewery vessels turning up on a lorry. I'm not going to worry about that right now - there are plenty of things on my panic list before then.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

October stuff

Last night I was handing-out pre-production samples to the West Middlesex CAMRA New Members Evening at The Forester in West Ealing, together with Gregg and Bryan from Weird Beard Brew Co. All rather pleasant once we managed to get in there past the film crew who were supposed to finish at 18:00 and were still going at 19:45 - what a surprise, given what I know from my previous life at the BBC.

All three beers I took seemed to go down very well with the membership. I had my Alt at 5.2%. my Stout at 4.5% and my Doppelbock at 7.4%. It's very gratifying, and excellent for morale, when strangers say how nice something is. Makes me almost think it might be worth pursuing this small brewery lark!

I had intended to get up on my hind legs and talk about the beers I brought, but that didn't happen for some reason. A number of people came up to me with useful suggestions about future outlets for my beer - various pubs, bottle shops and delicatessens.

Dean, the manager of The Forester, kindly arranged hot snacks like potato wedges, spring rolls, samosas and onion rings to turn up during the later part of the session. A bit of blotting paper is most welcome.

With a bit of luck we might get the lease signed on the Hanwell unit this week, or early next week. The major vessels are about to be built, and therefore I hope to have somewhere to put them! It's a bit complicated thinking about the timeline - do you order the chiller for the cold store before or after the hygienic flooring? Need to find an industrial-grade electrician so I can get a quote for 3-phase stuff.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New blog

This is a new blog about getting my micro-brewery going.

I'm starting a brewery called Ellenberg's, and I'm going to be sharing premises with Weird Beard Brew Co.

This week I'm hoping to order some equipment (almost as expensive as buying my house in 1995 - aargh!).

We're negotiating for a lease on an industrial unit in Hanwell, London W7, and we're waiting for the landlord to come back to us with answers to questions we had about the lease.

I hope to update this blog whenever there's anything interesting to share.