Tuesday, 1 April 2014

And finally ...

This is no April Fools joke, we finally did it. After almost a year of preparation we have have produced our first beer. Our brewers call it Gyle 1, the technical term for each batch of beer that leaves the fermentation vessel. But to the rest of the world, it is Lock Keeper’s Launch Ale.

Despite a year of preparation it was still all a bit lastminute.com, with the brewery kit arriving on the Sunday, installed on the Monday and the first brew in progress on the Tuesday. After the brew day, where the malt and hops are added, the wort was transferred to the fermentation vessels where the yeast does its magic. Four days later the beer was racked into barrels (firkins) and left to condition for three weeks.

Our production team are on their third brew already, but it was only yesterday that the first firkin left the brewery. We are having a sneaky tasting at the Berkhamsted Cricket Club and if the beer is palatable we then ship to the pubs. I’ll be honest with you, we don’t expect this first beer to be ground-breaking, we are playing it safe and the focus is on quality and consistency. We want people to think “that’s alright, I’ll have another” and don’t expect “wow that is f’ing amazing” – but if that happens then we would be over the moon.

Lock Keeper’s is a 3.9% ABV copper coloured bitter, made with English Challenger and Goldings hops combined with a blend of pale, crystal and chocolate malt topped off with some terrified wheat (to give it a head). I’ve had an early taste and it is not bad, not bad at all, but I may be bias – you’ll have to try it and let us know what you think. Once we have cracked Lock Keeper’s we can then experiment with a wider range of beers, including an American Pale Ale, Blonde Beer and Light Mild.

You may not know that we have two breweries in one positioned in parallel. We have one Hot Liquor Tank but two Mash Tuns and two Coppers. One plant is 12 bbl, producing 48 firkins, and the other is 2.5 bbl, producing 10 firkins. The smaller kit allows us to experiment on smaller quantities before producing a full on brew. It also allows us to host brewing experience days and corporate team-building events. We only know of one other brewery with a dual plant, so we’ll take that as a USP along with being the only brewery in Berkhamsted for 100 years.

Whilst our production team have been busy brewing, the marketing team have been getting the pump clips, glasses and t-shirts ready, plus organising events and market stalls, plus creating a retail area out of old office furniture and a bar out of builder's planks. We sell beer over the counter to passing trade on the afternoon of Maundy Thursday then Easter Saturday. From then on we will open the shop early Friday evening and Saturday afternoons. Come and say hello.

If you can't ne nothered to reasd this blog then take a look at the video on our story and how we buildt a brewery.

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