Author Archive for WishboneAde

Price of a Pint

I’ve been watching Cask 2019 posing questions with little Twitter surveys, things like:

Should a pint of cask beer cost less than its equivalent on keg? (63% of people said No)

I thought I would post a few comparisons…

Lets say a bar adds a fixed Cash margin to each pint of beer sold of £2, this is the amount per pint that this hypothetical business needs to make to cover all costs and actually make it a viable business. We will assume they sell 68 of the 72 pints in that cask.

  • Bar buys a cheap beer at £45+vat for a Cask = £54 – 79p per Pint
    + their £2 Cash Margin is £2.79
  • Bar buys an average cost beer at £75+vat for a Cask = £90 – £1.35 per Pint
    + their £2 Cash Margin is £3.35
  • Bar buys an expensive beer at £120+vat for a Cask = £144 – £2.12 per Pint
    + their £2 Cash Margin is £4.12

Thats 3 simple options for beer prices.

What if a bar buys in loads of cheap beer all the time and flogs it for £4 or £5, as a drinker would you feel a bit ripped off that a beers that costs 79p a pint is being sold to you at £4, maybe £5? (Its beer, its got alcohol in it but its a bit thin and boring, it might not be that great)

Would you prefer to go into a bar that serves more beer in the average to expensive range and would that feel like you are getting better value for money?
(The beers really taste of something and quite obviously have more ingredients in them)

With all that in mind, lets do those same prices but for a 30 Litre Keg, I’ve written before that roughly speaking it costs about the same for 30 Litres of Keg beer as it does for 40 Litres of Cask beer. We will assume they sell 48 of the 52 pints in that keg.

  • Bar buys a cheap beer at £45+vat for a Keg = £54 – £1.13p per Pint
  • Bar buys an average cost beer at £75+vat for a Keg= £90 – £1.88 per Pint
  • Bar buys an expensive beer at £120+vat for a Keg = £144 – £3.00 per Pint

Should the bar add the same £2 Cash Margin per pint? After all this does seem to be the fairest method.

Now consider the Multinational brewer who is also selling a 50 Litre Keg for £45 too – £54 in vat that is 84 pints of salable beer which is 64p a pint! This would be all the usual lagers you can buy in a supermarket but then the Pub sells you a bottle for £4 that cost them less than a £1 or a Pint of mass-produced Industrial lager for £4 to £5.

So the question is; Why is Industrial mass-market Lager somehow worth more, how do they get away with this perceived value?

Should ‘Value’ have more to do with a hand-crafted product from non-mechanised beer production?

Shouldn’t the price of a pint of Cask beer, or indeed small produced keg beer, hold more value and show a real connection to where it came from and who made it than some ‘perceived value’ from an industrial multinational conglomerate with a high marketing budget?

Skewed is the word for the Beer market! Skewed from the Biggest producers downwards. Skewed in bars where a load of the profit comes from the cheapest products and then that profit is used to skew the Cask prices to a false low price… because this is what consumers expect. We need to turn the market on its head.

Anyway….. How much Cash Margin would you add as to that £3 pint of Keg?  Maybe £3, £4??? Why not add the same to the Cask beers too…. Y’no just to keep things fair 😉

Take the rough with the smooth

As I’ve said before not everything in brewing and business has to be all ‘Look how good this is’ or ‘have you seen this new thing’, on occasion something will slip or not turn out as expected, I’ve not got a problem showing the rough with the smooth because when setting out in business I had one very clear goal… and that was to be Human.
I’m really not a fan of companies being all buttoned down and corporate, things like Trade Associations make my skin crawl (SIBA), so we try our best to be professional even if an occasional stern word or opinion slips out from time to time, its only Human.

A picture can say a thousand words….

We were immensely pleased with our new canned beers, but on Thursday evening we spotted something on social media with someone drinking one of our freshly delivered cans of ‘Cloudy with a chance of hops’ they stated it was oxidised so the following morning we randomly opened some cans from different boxes and poured a lot of beer. Then as a control we hooked up a keykeg of the same beer from the same tank that was used to Can from, The Glass on the left is the our keg sample and the one on the right is the Can sample you can’t say its not obvious can you!!

We knew our beer was right, we have brewed this recipe many times before for Cask and Keg and it has always beer right.
Our approach to our first Canning day was to have an extra level of Best Practice we wanted our beers to reach the Canning Machine is the best state possible, all the obvious cleaning was done and a cleaned Tank was Purged with Co2 (repeatedly filling and blowing off Carbon Dioxide pressure from tank) this is to reduce or remove the presence of Oxygen so that it cannot affect the beer we would put in it for canning. Co2 pressure was also used to supply the beer to the Canning Machine.

We used the most recommended canning company we knew of, they were very professional on the day and after a days work we had Dassler (already pre-carbonated in tank), Zoikes and Cloudy (to be Can-Conditioned) in Can, we were happy.

The Dassler was ready about 24 hours later when the yeast had settled in can, the Zoikes and Cloudy were tasting great within a week in our warm-room, and we sent deliveries out this week to some great bottle shops. *Spotted the Social media thing as mentioned above* then spent a very stressful Friday writing emails and contacting the customers who had bought cans of Cloudy to get them to withdraw from sale to minimise any damage they would cause. There was variability in the cans we opened and tested so there probably will be some good ones in among the bad ones, even last Saturday the beer was being drunk in our brewery bar and getting good feedback so its all very frustrating.

We believe that Dassler & Zoikes are unaffected by the issue the issue that Cloudy has, the New England style is intrinsically susceptible to Oxidation. We were later told that we should have been advised to Carbonate that particular beer on site rather than Can-condition it as NEIPA’s are notorious for being hard to Can and especially bad when can-conditioned due to the extra airspace that is left inside the can.

Moving forward…

The canning company are being very supportive which is greatly appreciated, things like this could easily damage both our business and that of the Canners.

I have some queries to ask the Canners about a couple of aspects of the canning process / procedure that could help avoid overall oxidation and occasional can oxidation.

We also have a couple of recipe and process tweaks in mind that should hopefully make our beer a little more resilient to the rigors of canning and mitigate any extraneous oxygen pickup.

Then it will be Fingers Firmly Crossed for the next time we have the Canning guys on site and Cloudy in tank.

For the very few people that may have got an Oxidised Can you are very welcome to bring your proof of purchase from wherever you bought it and you can have a pint on us at one of our Bar days.

Cans Ready

Our first canned beers had a really good reception at our Tryanuary Bar day yesterday, it was quite a thing seeing people cracking open a can and filling their glasses.

Can info:

All cans come in 12 x 330ml cases.
We used ThemThatCan and their mobile canning machine to fill the cans.
We got really good DO (Dissolved Oxygen) results.
All cans are Unfiltered, Unfined and Vegan.
Cans contain live yeast.
Best Before Date is 12 months from Canning Date.

Zoikes 4.2% American Pale is the steady drinker, bags of flavour but nothing too in-yer-face. Can-conditioned.

Dassler 4.2% NZ Helles Lager is our most popular lager to date, clean and crisp but still well-bodied. Mostly naturally carbonated via Spunding in the Fermenting vessel with just a little top up with Co2 top pressure.

Cloudy with a chance of hops 5.9% New England IPA is definitely more in-yer-face and dry hopped at 2 stages in the fermenter. Can-Conditioned.

All being well….

We sell plenty of cans and can afford the next canning run then I can start worrying about extra cold storage for keeping our cans fresh and the potential knock-on effects that could cause. Stuff like the obvious (Cheapest) place to make or extend our cold store would wipe out our Brewery Tap Bar!!!

Cheers

Cans Cans Cans!

If you follow us on Social Media you will have spotted our excitement that beer in smallpack *CANS* are finally here!!!

Dassler 4.2% is our NZ Helles Lager, this is already carbonated and available to order now.

Cloudy with a chance of hops 5.9% New England IPA and Zoikes 4.2% American Pale Ale are both can-conditioned so will be available once they have carbonated in our warm-conditioning-room in about a week’s time.

All beers are in packs of 12 x 330ml, Unfined, Unfiltered and Vegan.

Thanks to the support from local businesses, our customers and drinkers for getting us to this point, if you know a local Bottle Shop, Restaurant, Pub or Bar that you’d like to stock our cans please do get in touch.

sales@wishbonebrewery.co.uk

For all this excitement I am sad to say my dad died this week, just days before I could have taken our first cans to show him, we wouldn’t be in business without the support of my parents xx

Some up, Some same, Some down

Its that time of year when we find time to check our business costs, new prices will be in effect from Monday 21st January. As a business we need to balance what comes in with what goes out and we haven’t changed our prices since January 2017 (We held back during 2018) as we only factored in Malt & Hop prices, this week we have looked at all our costs and are in the process of updating our beer prices to reflect what things cost us.
When we started this business back in 2015 we set our prices with what costs we knew at the time, now its 2019 and we have had over 3 years of trading we know our costings a little better.

Our Fixed costs include:  (These total at least £832 per Brew (110 Brews in 2018) = £91’520 per year)

  • Rent
  • Business Rates
  • Insurance Rent & Service Charges from our Landlord
  • Brewery Insurance
  • Wages
  • Electricity
  • Water & Trade Effluent
  • Phone & Internet
  • Plus any other odds and ends that help you run an office and brewery

Variable Costs:

  • Beer Duty *Lots!!*
  • Ingredient Costs (malt, hops, yeast etc)  (We spent at least £50’000 on Malt & Hops)
  • Delivery + Pumpclip  (I’m not even looking at the full delivery costs at this stage but a Pumpclip costs about £1) We could probably add a minimum of £10’000 to our Fixed costs for Running the Van, I’ll look into this another week, for the moment we factor in £2.70 for Delivery & Pumpclip for each cask. *Don’t ask about the amount of Van Windscreens we have gone through… its about 5 in a year!!!*

The long and the short of all this is that we are going to re-balance our beer prices, as a rule of thumb beers will be going up approx £2 per Firkin, some beers will stay at the same price, and there are some beers that will drop in price too. Keykeg prices will be the same as Firkin prices so if a 40 Litre Firkin costs £80 then a 30 Litre Keykeg will also be £80.

We hope our customers can appreciate where these small price increases / alterations have come from and reflect these changes to your customers as you check your own business costs.

Cheers 🙂 Who’s idea was it to start a brewery anyway!!!!

As 2018 draws to a close…

2018
It has been a weird year, it had kind of a clunky start which was still above what 2017 was like and then followed all that great sunny weather and a bunch of football games which saw a big drop in people going out to drink good beer in good pubs. The Supermarkets probably saw more beer action and the Sports-lead pubs probably did better. Once all that hot weather and sports hoo-har was done with sales took a real upturn and following some of our best sales months ever we finished the year on a high with our best ever week before Christmas. Thanks very much for that, and a special thank you to our regular customers 🙂
The Volume of beer produced in 2018 leveled off as I had predicted at the end of 2017 but it was nice to see that profitability looks to have crept up, I will put this down to the steady increase in Keg beer sales with their slightly higher margin per litre.
In case you didn’t hear earlier, we are no longer SIBA members, we feel we can spend that yearly membership fee on something better that will actually do us some good… being a SIBA member did literally NOTHING for us, they have only self-interest and are too closely tied to Big Beer via selling cheaply to tied Pubcos! And Promoting members beer through Wetherspoons only serves to cheapen what small brewers work hard for, if anything deserves a slap in the face with a wet fish it was that Promo! If small brewers want a fair/er marketplace then STOP selling via SIBA and STOP selling to McSpoons *other opinions are available but these are mine.
*Apathy of brewers is a problem and lack of time or interest in participating in SIBA will only lead it further away from the goals of the small independent brewer*

2019
We have toyed with the idea of Crowdfunding to get ourselves into Canning our beers, we will be keeping the idea of Crowdfunding going but it will be directed at starting a Bar in Keighley which will cater better for today’s modern drinkers and bring a permanent local outlet for our beers.
Cans! As we have blogged before, our first Canning run will be on 17th January so all being well by early February we will have Dassler Helles Lager 4.2%, Zoikes Pale Ale 4.2% and Cloudy with a chance of hops 5.9%, then we need to keep that ball rolling and make the Canning (or maybe Bottling too for certain beers) a regular occurrence.
We really need to do some face-to-face sales stuff, the Cans will obviously help with this as we can take or send beers direct to prospective customers to introduce us and our beers.
Wholesale of beers was high on my agenda in 2018, it ended up being somewhat lackluster and mainly showed me that wholesalers don’t want to pay money for beer, you could probably say that there are always other brewers in the market that will sell at such a low margin that beers sold at a slightly higher price get blocked easily from wholesale distribution. I will keep trying with the wholesale as its a good way to get beers into the hands of drinkers that are out of our delivery areas.
Eebria has got a little more interesting with some flurries of activity and repeat orders of things like Dassler Lager, Dassler has turned out really well so we hope this trend continues.
I can see that with starting to Can (Small Pack) our beers we may see our range of beers contract a little, this is probably not a bad thing as it make ingredient purchase and forward contracting a bit easier and will ensure we have more regular opportunities for fine-tuning our recipes to bring you even better beer. We will still be bringing you new beers, that is after all half of the fun.
We have really enjoyed our first Barrel Aged beer, in fact both the barrel aged and regular versions of our Imperial Stout (The Black Imp & B.A Black Imp) are tasting bloody awesome, there will be plenty of fun to be had in the future.
Hopefully we will edge closer to brewing Sour beer, we’ll be trying hard to do things properly (Brewed, Funky bugs, Kettle soured, Barreled etc) and not make a one-dimensional beer with a dose of Lactic Acid to a beer *Look for ‘Lactic Acid’ on the list of Ingredients*.
The last bit, ingredient prices have gone up, energy & fuel costs are continually going up, the minimum / living wage goes up in April, we will be adding these increases to our costings which will mean some structured re-pricing our our beers. New prices should be in effect from around the end of the second week in January so grab what you can in the first couple of weeks 😉

To recap:
Canning + more Growth in Keg should = more profitability and production volumes should creep up.
Start a Local Bar = More local exposure and more volume of beer leaving the brewery, help bring more beer trade to Keighley as a whole.
Those two bits will hopefully allow us to reinvest in the brewery and its people to make everything better.

Here’s to 2019, Cheers

Gluten Free Beer

Its probably two or three times each year we get asked if we do a Gluten Free beer, we have kept thinking about it… A beer can be described / sold as Gluten Free (GF) if it is lab tested and shows a gluten amount of 20 ppm (parts per million) or less.

The regular way to make a GF beer is to us a fermenter addition called ‘Brewers Clarex‘, though I’m not a big fan of adding anything more than we have to to a beer, not to mention the cost of buying a load of Brewers Clarex when the dose rate is so low that it would be sat around for many many years at the size of brewery we are.
My preferred method is to brew a beer and then get it tested to see where the Gluten baseline is and how close we could get to it being naturally brewed to be GF or ‘Gluten Reduced’. More recently we have seen a few Oat based GF beers on the market and followed that up with some discussion with our Crisp Malt rep we find that they are confident that we could brew a GF beer to hit the targets without the need for adding Brewers Clarex to the beer. Yay!

Barley – Contains Gluten
Crisp Naked Malted Oats –  Do not contain Gluten
Rice – No Gluten
Maize – No Gluten

Here’s our Lab test results, <20 ppm is the target.
I’m lead to believe that <10 ppm is less gluten than the measurable threshold, so basically we are all good 🙂

GreenFlute is an anagram of Gluten Free, all the ingredients are listed on the pumpclip so drinkers can make an educated decision prior to drinking, its also got Citra, Mosaic & Simcoe hops and a healthy Dry Hopping too. Its Unfined and may have a haze. Mega light in colour with a refreshing body.

Recipe Drawbacks:
We had a practically set-mash and mega slow sparge as the mix of malts and unmalted adjuncts in the mash made for something akin to clay, so quite a solid mix! We should be able to mitigate this somewhat with future brews and hopefully speed the brewday along a bit.

Unfined:
Unfined and Vegan; can we make this the last time that someone thinks ‘Vegan’ is a bad thing in beer, in not using finings we feel the finished product has more flavour and more aroma *Better beer* so if making Better Beer isn’t your thing you can continue thinking Vegan is weird, it’s not, it’s you that need to learn a bit more or be accepting of other peoples decisions in life. I’m not vegan, I eat meat, though that doesn’t stop me eating Vegan food… I do not limit what I put in my mouth because of, “Oh! its that weird fecking vegan shit”, some of the best food I’ve had has come from Vegan Food Traders. So suck that up X.

 

May the 4th Brew with you!

Its Homebrew Competition time again!

Our 2018 competition was a right good laugh so we thought we better do it again, its always good to see new and old homebrewers entering beers 🙂 Our competition is open to any homebrewer who can get here with their beer entries on the day of the competition.
This is a Private Homebrewers-Only event and it NOT a public bar, mates, wives, girlfriends, husbands, boyfriends and dogs all welcome so long as accompanied by a responsible-homebrewer 😉

Again we are supported by the most excellent homebrew shop The Malt Miller, we can only thank Rob for his continued support and that means…. Prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd place!

Competition Rules:

  • Brew: Stout or Porter.
  • ABV: up to 6%
  • Bottles: 3x 500ml Unmarked brown glass bottles.
  • Entries: 1 entry per brewer, email your contact details and tell us if you used any speciality ingredients so as to help the judges to competition@wishbonebrewery.co.uk
  • Hops & Malts: Entirely the brewers choice.
  • Yeast: Entirely the brewers choice.
  • On the day: Bottles to be brought to the brewery on the day of competition (NO Postal entries, we want everyone to come and enjoy the social as much as the competition)
  • Date & Time: Sat 4th May 2019 Doors open 11am, Bar open from 12.00, Judging starts at 13.00, kickout time around 18.00
  • Prizes: We will be presenting engraved tankards and certificates and there will be Malt Miller Gift Vouchers too.

Again we will be raising money for charity, have 6 handpulls + 2 Keg lines on our brewery bar so we would like 3-4 homebrewers who want to brew a beer for the bar to be served alongside our own beer, all proceeds from the sale of homebrewed and our own beers will be donated to local charity.

Again we will be doing what we can to bring you some beer & brewing related entertainment from people in the brewing industry. Our Crisp Malt rep will be with us again for all your malt and brewing questions.

You can find us here:

Wishbone Brewery Limited
2A Worth Bridge Industrial Estate
Chesham Street
Keighley
West Yorkshire
BD21 4LG

We are a 6min walk from Keighley Railway station and there is a Travel-lodge a similar walk away too for those of you that will be traveling from around the country. Keighley has some great Curry Houses too. We are also on a main bus route with a stop practically at the top of our road.

I’ll update this blog with more details as we confirm things…

Definition of Micropub

There looks to be a definition of what a Micropub should be on Wikipedia whether you think this is a slightly truncated version of what a Micropub or MicroBar should be is a matter for your own judgement.

There’s a few of them about now and not a single one of them is the same, how’s that for diversity, we will all know some fantastic examples of what we (you) consider to be a good micropub, I thought I would write a few of my own thoughts on what I believe makes a good Bijou drinking establishment.
It seems people start small bars for all sorts of reasons, time for a change, a love of beer, a delight in the pub atmosphere, a retirement plan (haha, not a hint of ironic laugh in there honest!), a business opportunity to make money, the list will go on….

My Definition of Micropub:

  • A small pub built in a retail unit that should be low-ish rent and more than likely Business Rates free.
  • Should be a welcoming ‘all-accepting’ environment to the whole human race, even dogs if you so wish, though anyone who would see fit to spoil that environment is turned around and showed the door.
  • The Beer range; beers should be changing, beers could be local, beers should not be anything you can buy from a Tied Pub, beers shouldn’t be tied to a brewery, for the most part regional and family brewers shouldn’t be on the bar, and of utmost importance is that the beer range should be interesting and satisfy as broad a range of tastes as possible. Beers should ideally be in Cask, Keg & Bottle/Can.
  • Avoid music other than a bit of background for ambiance, occasional live music is fine, no TV!
  • Other drinks; tea and coffee for starters, soft drinks preferably not from a multinational company, small but distinct Spirit range, maybe a wine or two and Prosecco, a good local Cider if available.
  • Use the range of drinks and the price of them to deter the aforementioned nob-heads.
  • Have nice toilets, they may have a space constraint, but do your damnedest to ensure they are fully functioning, clean and fit for all of the diverse lovely humans the world produces (Space constraints may scupper that last part but thats no reason not to try).
  • Don’t go getting tied into certain ‘brands’ as its blatantly off putting to some drinkers who will vote with their feet. The same goes for the brewers who continually produce wishy washy pish water, that beer may be cheap to buy but they really aren’t interesting to drinkers.
  • The Owners of the micropub should have an interest in good beer and it not just be a business to make money.

A couple of practicalities for new Micropub owners…

  • Empty Cask storage, when you sign that premises lease ensure you have ample cask storage as there will be a time when you have too many empties.
  • Opening hours, these obviously have to fit around your ‘other life’, brewers try hard to deliver and collect around your hours and within standard working hours so bear in mind that you may need to be flexible for deliveries and empty collections, if a brewers is passing they will check for empties, if you aren’t around they will go uncollected… so see the point above.

How that sound? Answers on a Postcard to the usual address…

 

The Downward Pressure of the brewing business?

The Downward Pressure of the brewing business – hows this sound for a vague ‘Pressure Tree’?

These are just a few thoughts that whiz around my head from time to time.

  • The International / Multinational Brewer puts price pressure on those smaller than it because of their economies of scale and their massive marketing budgets for brand visibility.
  • The National Brewers do all they can to keep their market share, this also involves economies of scale to make prices low.
  • Family Brewers and those with tied estates are obviously feeling the pressure from above and want to keep market share, some of these breweries will also be feeling the pressure from smaller more innovative brewers below them.
  • Medium Brewers, the ones that started out small or small-ish a few years ago, there is a lot of expansion going on, those that have expanded and are still expanding. This is kind of a weird group, they have got to their peak and still have the drive to climb higher, they could be expanding further in to bottling or Canning, they could be acquiring new Pub venues to sell through and without a doubt they are aggressively getting tied-line contracts signed for beer supply. These brewers are still innovative, still current, mostly producing interesting beer.
  • The small Microbrewer, the lowest on the ‘Pressure Tree’. Microbrewers have the full weight of the others pressing down on them. No economies of scale, no marketing budget, minimal exposure. The only way these small guys can put pressure on the other groups is through innovation.

Now when I think of the ‘Small Brewers Duty Reform Coalition’ and SIBA wanting to smooth the Beer Duty curve for brewers above 5000 Hectolitres the only people I see winning from this is everyone above the small Microbrewer, those that brew above 5000 HL who in some cases already put downward pressure on those smaller. Any change to the current Beer Duty system has to see the small brewers being driven out of the market.

So what can we do? (This is where things digress a little)

  • Definitely campaign for there to be NO CHANGE to the current Small Brewers Relief on Beer Duty.
  • Have a means of Direct sales to the public, Cans, Bottles open a bar or pub.
  • Campaign for a truly free market for beer in the UK, Pubcos should be strictly governed against.
  • Boycott places like Wetherspoons who only make themselves richer while only the bigger of brewers manage to make £1 or £2 per cask for what is usually bog standard beer, If Wetherspoons change to pay their supplier brewers a fair amount you may continue to drink in McSpoons.
  • Boycott tied pubs? For all it sounds good in the Spirit of the Freehouse I don’t think this is fair, if a Pub provides a service, a meeting place for those around it then what we really need is for them to get a fairer deal from their controlling Pubco.
  • Supermarket beer is way too discounted (loss-leaders) and there are regional brewers selling ‘faux-craft’ beer into supermarkets all branded up to look ‘crafty’ yet for the most part they totally missing the mark. Why are supermarkets allowed to sell beer so cheap that its killing pubs?
  • CAMRA, just burn your Spoons Vouchers… if you use them you are only being part of the problem, and CAMRA you are too close to big business these days.
  • And always remember, just like your electricity bill or how much a tank of petrol costs…. EVERYTHING ALWAYS GETS MORE EXPENSIVE.

For us here at Wishbone, August was our best month ever, then quickly usurped by October which was our best ever month… So thanks very much to all the drinkers and pubs for this, thanks to KWVR Beer & Music Fest for having us again too.
Our near-future path as a business is to get our beer into Cans, we have the canning date booked for 17th January 2019 so in a few weeks we will brew Dassler Lager so it has its proper lagering time in tank before canning and Zoikes and Cloudy with a chance of hops will be brewed in Jan just in time for the canning date.
All being well in February we will start a Crowdfunder with the aim of opening a bar somewhere in Keighley.

Cheers 🙂