I’ve been open around two months now, and things have gone relatively smoothly. However, I have encountered some problems, and I’d like to talk about them for a little bit.
I have been very lucky. My first month, everything I made turned out great. I am very thankful for this, because you never get a second chance to make a first impression. However, it was naive of me to think that brewing on a 40 gallon system would be exactly the same as brewing on a five gallon set-up. Around batch number six, I started having some problems. Over the last month, I’ve had to dump several batches of beer, and I’ve also had to serve beer that I didn’t think were up to my standards. There are several reasons.
First, I was improperly harvesting yeast. When you take yeast from the bottom of a conical, you want the middle portion. I was dumping the first portion, but was actually losing too much of the good yeast that way, and getting too much of the upper portion. I realized this when my yeast wasn’t performing well. I ditched it and ordered new commercial pitching quantities.
Second, my mash PH was too high. When homebrewing, I used a 2% acid malt substitution on most recipes and batch sparged. I had no problems. When I started using the full-size system, I switched to a fly sparge and began using a greater quantity of water. This resulted in several of my beers tasting off to various degrees. I bought a PH pen, lactic acid, and PH buffer. I carefully monitor my PH now.
Third, I didn’t know how to properly carbonate on Sanke kegs. I wasn’t leaving enough head space, and the contact between the CO2 and beer was so small that nothing was getting carbed fast enough. I’d have to shake kegs to get them to carb, and the levels weren’t correct. My cold room wasn’t cold enough, either. I now know the right way to do it.
Fourth, I neglected to check if the building had cold tap water. As it turns out, my water only comes out at 70 degrees, which makes it impossible to properly chill the beer. I was also using a counterflow chiller, which is not adequate for the job. I now use pre-chilled water and a plate chiller.
Lastly, I was rushing beers. I had to open the weekend after I got my brewery license since I couldn’t keep paying rent with no income. You are not allowed to stockpile beer before you get your license, so I had to hit the ground running. This resulted in several of my beers being served too young, and also in running out of beer. Now I have had time to set up additional fermenters and get a good pipeline going, so that won’t happen any more.
I just wanted to talk about this to let people know that I am aware of these problems. I will actively work to fix problems that arise, sparing no expense. This is part of my commitment to you as a customer and to my craft. I appreciate peoples’ patience and understanding during these opening months, but the beer will be great from now on. This weekend, I’ll have three really nice beers on tap: my American IPA, dry stout, and English pale ale. Come on in.