Wow! Our initial release list included the Bread Basket, Ode to the Wick, Local 117, our Watermelon Wheat, and the Springett Stout. It was ambitious to offer so many when we first started but we love the diversity of flavour that this lineup offered to customers at the Root Cellar. To date we have released 18 different beers and look forward to seeing that number rise with more small-batch, locally-sourced, hands-on brews. We love making them and you love drinking them – a perfect match! Thanks to all our customers 🙂
I love sitting at the bar at The Root Cellar and seeing another new beer on the Beer Board. Today, it’s the Smoking Jacquette [update: the original name may have been too punny – we’ve renamed this great beer “Fire in the Pumpkin Patch”). What’s it like? Take the smokey notes of the Ode to The Wick nut brown ale (courtesy of that happy malting accident) add a few bushels of roast organic pumpkin from H.O.P.E Co-operative in Aylmer, balance with some Bertwell Hops from Guelph and season with fair trade organic cinnamon and nutmeg for a truly quaffable smoked pumpkin ale. ABV 5.4%
A common query from new brewers starting up is what applications to use to track their brewery operations. We have experimented with a number of things but we seem to have found the right solution with a mix of a conventional accounting program and the use of Google Spreadsheets for recipe creation, batch tracking, inventory tracking, warehouse tracking, and sales. It certainly pays to know a little bit of scripting and to have used Excel enough to know all the quick functions.
It was helpful after a month of operation to look back on what we were doing and to make the necessary corrections. Having this “live” data demonstrated where our previous system had fallen short and what could be done to improve upon it. We took a step back and did some pseudo coding to lay out how we wanted it to work and then made a series of different spreadsheets that could be linked when necessary but standalone for quick entry and viewing. Using Google Spreadsheets also brought some additional confidence in the system with its built-in change logging and storage in the cloud. It’s also easier to view and input from all devices (support Blackberry, Android, Mac, and Windows) and multiple editors is not an issue.
Brewing software may not seem like one of the most important pieces until it’s the piece that’s missing from a smooth operation!
Starting up a brewery is an exciting venture but one that takes long days and nights of hard work. We pride ourselves on our small size and our hands-on approach to all the various aspects of building our brewery. That does mean, unfortunately, that some items do fall to the wayside. I solemnly swear that I will try to be a better blogger and writer! These coming weeks I will update everyone on the developments at the brewery and when you can expect to get your hands on a pint of our beer!
For many home brewers their passion may have started with a Cooper’s Kit (http://us.diybeer.com/) on their kitchen range – alone or with a friend. The next step may have been using some syrups from the local home brew shop and adding in your own hops additions. For us, it indeed went the route first with a Cooper’s Kit. Marcus and Aaron brewed one of them – and then went looking for the next challenge. They would do two batches in a night, one all-grain and the other using an extract syrup. They bought their ingredients from Brew Haven – as store that continues to serve well the London and area hombrewing community (http://www.brewhaven.on.ca/). Even then, while waiting for the mash to complete, while chilling the wort in a laundry tub, while transferring into buckets and then carboys, and while having a blast – the seeds for something more were being planted. These days we still work on our homebrew system, testing out some recipes and some processes. Today it’s transfer day and we’re moving an English style bitter and a American nut brown into kegs from the fermenters. Even now we look at the clean-in-place system we have developed to clean kegs and think of the next step – how to make it better, more efficient, and…cooler.
Maybe that’s what makes homebrewing so much fun; it can be a social time, a time for tooling around, and a time for recipe experimentation. We’re coming to a close on our homebrewing days, planning the system and the recipes for when we will be brewing in a commercial environment. It started with an idea, an idea encouraged by a gift to Marcus of Palmer’s “How to Brew” (http://www.howtobrew.com/), an idea encouraged by family and friends who enjoyed the unique and tasty beers, an idea encouraged by passion.
Is there a better way to spend your weekend?
While filling our AGCO Manufacturer Licence Application I was humoured by the question: what types of beer will you produce? My initial reaction was, what won’t we brew! We’ll have a standard rotation of quality suds ranging from bitters to porters to reds to wheats to ryes to…well, you get the idea. We’ll also bring seasonal beers to the London market. Winter, spring, summer, fall, and winter again will bring new innovations that emphasize the best of what the London area has to offer. That means utilizing ingredients in season from berries to gourds and from sweets to spices. We don’t limit our food choices to just one kind of food, why limit our beer choices?
A beer by any other name would taste as good?
What’s in a name? I remember when I was but a few minutes old and my naming rights were up for grabs…simple times those. My name means something to my parents and the name of the London Brewing Co-operative is important to us, the five brewers working hard to bring this idea to fruition. The beer would taste just as good, the time spent perfecting the recipes would be just as long, and we would be just as excited to see others enjoying it. The rest of the story, however, sustainable development, relationship with the community, relationships with those involved in the production of the ingredients, might be different. We want to see more than just beer being consumed – we want to build those relationships with others and emphasize the important things in life. That’s why we made a decision to form a cooperative, to democratize the decision-making process, to ensure an equitable return to those who work hard to make the product both directly and indirectly.
I was down at our future brewery space last night to work on some network and computer setups and realized that due to my schedule I hadn’t been down since the New Year! Lucky for me Aaron, Jeff, Joel and the rest of the wonderful folks at On The Move Organics and The Root Cellar have been handling all the renovations. The new space that The Root Cellar will occupy will be amazing and I can’t wait for when they’ll be able to serve up our brews. Looking for your fresh coffee and treat fix? Check out the Root Cellar – https://www.facebook.com/TheRootCellarOrganicCafe
I’m certainly becoming well versed in the legalese of incorporation and licensing. While we were officially incorporated in November 2013 we experienced some hiccups as it’s still a bit unusual for some of the ministries to deal with a co-operative. Along the way I’ve encountered a number of helpful folks at the various agencies who have clarified the legislation, gave direction on the applications, and reassured us that they’re excited to see this move forward and are there to assist. It’s been an interesting process but it’s still the calm before the storm when the really interesting bits begin.
Cheers to the weekend!
Delicious locally roasted coffee, morning sun, dog playing in the backyard and my putting the finishing touches on our business plan. It was nice of spring to finally join us.