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Litter Pick Free Pint

On Saturday 13th April we are getting together with Keighley Big Local to hold a Litter Pick with River Worth Friends to clean up the Dalton Lane area of Keighley, so for every officially collected full sack of rubbish you will receive One Free Pint.

I’ll add more here as the details are given to me.

Cheers

Patchwork

Just a quicky beer update, we brewed a beer called Patchwork, it pretty much sold before we even had it in Cask! Its a relatively simple beer, we had plenty of Whole Mosaic hops and plenty of Whole Simcoe hops along with lots of Cascade T90 pellet hops…  Oliver put the recipe together, we decided on the ABV and that it would be clear beer (contains Isinglass finings), I made a pretty purple pumpclip background from the scanned texture inside an old book (thats right, I scan stuff and have done for years)… Job done.

Patchwork 4.2% will be on our Brewery Bar today from 12.00 😉

Why did this beer sell out even before we had it in cask?

  • It had a colourful bright pumpclip (If it was Beige is wouldn’t have sold)
  • Its a Pale beer (If it was a lovely Malty Red it would have sold slowly)
  • The ABV was in the sessionable range (People drink around the 3.5- 4.5% range most)
  • It says ‘Dry Hopped’ on the pumpclip (Just imagine if we had put DDH on the pumpclip too!!)
  • Its a Clear beer, no haze or murk (People are still resistant of drinking beer with a haze)
  • Its got Mosaic & Simcoe in it (‘Craft’ hops init!)

Its pretty clear that there is a target market for exactly this type of beer, I think the fact that its Clear or intended to be clear is a big part of it and also the bright texture on the pumpclip, we do prefer our beers to be Unfined though as they taste better unfined and you get more flavour for your money with the secondary aspect being that Unfined beers are Vegan too.
We would clearly like to produce all Unfined and Vegan beers but that alienates a whole bunch of customers *Shakes head* which is a shame, how can we further educate pockets of resistance to accept Hazy or Cloudy beer?

See you at the bar for a pint of Clear Beer!

Beer, the drink of the people

Beer, the drink of the people!

Yep thats right, Beer is about one step up from Council Pop and a Yorkshire brewed Cup of Tea, you have the God-given right to swill beer down your throat to wash away the soot and coal dust from the days toil.

Pete Brown has been writing about why some beers cost more. And he’s right.

Did you ever see a Wine, maybe even Cider, drinker go to the bar and ask for a members discount?

I seem to be constantly reminded at the moment that SBR (Small Brewers Relief) is under treat and in all honesty we should levy the complete and full Beer Duty rate on all our beers, so instead of a hoppy 4% beer costing £85 a Cask it should cost £100+vat a Cask. We pay about £15 in Beer Duty on a 72 Pint Cask, the Full Duty rate is double that at £30 and that extra £15 is meant for the small brewer to keep to help them grow to a sustainable level.

Then look at all the pubs out there, some closing, some new Micropubs opening, some scraping by and indeed there are some that are thriving…. different areas of the country have different average earnings / levels of employment so it isn’t unexpected to find local boozers selling beer for a lot less than the average price of a pint.

No Pub’s *prices are actually wrong, the prices will be what their customers will pay or can afford to pay, some pubs even set prices so that certain people are put off drinking there.

*Though honestly speaking some pubs buy cheap beer and then sell it an inflated, disproportionate price that would make drinkers question why its not £1 or so cheaper… thats another story! Btw most Industrial-made lager is Cheap Beer.

I realise that is a very brief synopsis of the beer industry, but anyway, back to your God-Given-Right to drink beer to wash away the grime of the day!

Why do people see the value in Wine or a Gin & Tonic more so than a Pint of beer?

You might pay £8+ for a G&T (little bit of Theatre presented in a Fish bowl?) thats a about 35ml of Gin, slice of Lime /Cucumber, Ice and a small measure of tonic water, then there is Wine and you could be charged a Bottle-price for a Large Glass of the stuff and no one even flinches!

Put the price of a Pint of beer up by 10p and everyone bemoans it!

Its a bit like devaluing our national pride and heritage, British-brewed beer is something our country can be massively proud of, what we do in this country is world-leading and YES that does mean Cask beer, its part of our National Identity FFS! We should all, including Government be fully behind British Brewed Beer and its distinct and illustrious history, Value what we do in the UK (especially the small producers).

I may add to / edit this later….

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.