Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Double the fun!

We’ve doubled our capacity! Yesterday, Jim Uer of Interior Stainless delivered two brand-new 30-barrel unitanks that he made in his shop in Summerland, BC. We bought our first two used from Georgetown Brewery, also supplied by Interior Stainless. So now we have four identical, gorgeous, stainless steel tanks, all lined up and ready for action. Jim, his wife, and two daughters drove them down on a long flat-bed trailer attached to their family pick-up. These things weigh 2,000 lbs each and took some fancy fork-lifting to get into place. Jim’s a calm, tall craftsman whose primary clientele is small breweries -- which seems to be a lucrative and fun market niche (compared to, say, dairies or bio-deisel or any other industry needing stainless steel tanks).

Why is this major purchase such a big deal? First, some Brewing 101: beer starts by boiling grain, hops, and magic in water to make wort. Once the wort is ready, it’s pumped from the brew house into a unitank where it ferments for a week or so. After the fermentation stage, the beer is transferred to another unitank for finishing: the suspended yeast falls to the bottom, carbon dioxide is added and the beer’s ready to be put into kegs. They’re called “unitanks” because they do everything: ferment, cool, refine, carbonate.

We have a 15-barrel brew house and until now, we could only accommodate two batches of beer at any one time – one batch in the fermenter, one finishing in the other tank. Even if we brewed double batches, we’d still only have two brews (or 60 barrels max) in the pipeline at any one time. With two additional tanks, we can do more experimenting with recipes, produce more one-off specialty beers, and make more mistakes without worrying about having enough beer for our wholesale accounts and retail sales. So this is a major milestone in our evolution. Now we need to get our hands on about 300 more kegs and we can sit tight while the cash comes rolling in – until we shell out the big, big bucks for a canning line.

Reminder: we’re offering the Interurban IPA at cheap, holiday prices through December 31st: $3.00 pints at the Urban Beer Garden, $13.00 growlers (glass and fill), $6.00 growler refills, and two free FBC pint glasses if you buy a keg. Please check our holiday schedule to ensure someone’s here to take your money and check out our swanky new merchandise while you’re at it.