New plan - start a business where people pay me to clean my bathroom. A few weeks ago you were graced with a few Haiku on brewing. In 17 syllables you learned what a brew day mostly consists of - cleaning, heavy lifting and occasional burns. That held true during the hands-on portion of the Brewery Immersion Course. I worked with Brewmaster Elliot for a few hours each day, doing the various jobs that a brewer is tasked with. In other words, I paid $2500 to be the Cinderella of the Colorado Boy Brewery for 3 days.
Cleaning kegs is labor intensive and it takes a long time. You drain out the remaining beer, rinse with hot water, clean with a brewery cleanser, sanitize (according to Tom, an optional step if the kegs are being served immediately at the brewery), then purge with Co2. Tom has put together a manual keg washer that we used and it cost him a few hundred bucks. Here it is in action. Alternatively, you can spend $15,000+ on a slick semi-automatic washer. If you are cleaning a ton of kegs all time time, it makes sense to pony up for the big boy equipment. I plan to use serving tanks at the tap room, which minimizes the required number of kegs, so the low cost alternative is a good option.
Other brewery-work things we did over the first two days:
Kegged beer from serving tanks (using the kegs we cleaned)
Cleaned serving tanks (which held the beer we just kegged)
Transferred beer from a fermenter to the serving tank we just cleaned
Cleaned that fermenter
Counted yeast cells (left from the beer that was in the fermenter we cleaned)
Ate pizza (Tom makes fantastic pizza at the brewery and I ate one each day)
The last day was brew day. We brewed 7bbl (14 kegs) of the Colorado Boy IPA. The process is very similar to homebrewing, but with larger vessels, more ingredients, and a few pieces of unfamiliar equipment that are absolutely necessary. The lesson is this - if your pump fails, you are totally out of luck. Transferring hundreds of gallons of hot liquid is happening all the time. Here is the revised “Professional Brewing” Haiku:
Prep, clean, pump liquid
wait, shovel a ton of grain,
clean, pump liquid, clean
Tom suggested that when Wild Parrot opens, I do the brewing myself, rather than hire a brewer from the get-go. His reasoning is that it will A. save money B. give me the experience to do it myself if the brewer is sick/hungover/jumps parole C. show that I “walk the talk” both to any brewer I hire and to customers. Those are all great points and they have made me reconsider hiring a brewer during the start-up phase. My pause is that brewing takes a lot of time, between all the cleaning, prepping, analysis and actual brewing - In other words, it’s (duh) a full time job. The primary job of an owner is to drive sales, so if brewing is taking a lot of time away from that, then there is trouble. This is a big decision and something I need to think more about.
Next post - Business systems and next steps from the Immersion Course