Mid 2017 Update

Middle of the year update. 2017

It is that time of year when you get a nasty wake-up call realizing that we’ve reached the middle of the year. Not too long before the descent towards the summer holidays start and that you will probably make it through another year.

The second half of this year is going to be a bit of a challenge and probably a planned go-slow. At this point it looks as of this year is going to be more of what we went through last year. 2016 was a tough year due to our equipment upgrade combined with half of the team tied up in serious exam preparations and finishing off specializing in Orthopedics. This year work commitments and a somewhat unpredicted 6 month work stint overseas by half of the team is set to complicate things.

It may be challenging, but at this point of the business it is not necessarily a bad scenario. Being spread thin on the ground and running a very lean operation helps one figure out what works; what doesn’t; where you can improve; how to improvise when you do not have the resources and time others have and it forces you to make decisions and move on.

To some extent it also offers you an outside view. You have the opportunity to learn from what others are doing because you are not fully consumed by your own endeavors. Not depending on the business for your livelihood it allows you to take the long view, experiment, be flexible, play for time and to postpone things if not entirely comfortable with anything.

So… what have we learnt so far:

The local beer industry is becoming a bit more crowded; consumer tastes are changing and the depressed economy is squeezing the general consumer. It has an effect on sales and everyone is feeling it.

To a large extent we are seeing more of the same from new breweries.

Beer quality is steadily improving.

Too many people still see brewing as an easy way to make money. (Oh boy, are they wrong!!)

Some people are dropping HUGE amounts of money on marketing, venues and equipment. (With the slowdown in our economy it is going to be interesting to see when funders and investors would start demanding returns on their money or would like to cash out.)

Some breweries are not really in it to make beer or for the advancement of good quality independent, small batch beer. They are simply building brands and/or businesses to sell and cash out… sort of in a leveraged buy-out way.

Too many people still make and sell beer on paper only… selling all the beer you can make on a 100L system is easy; selling all the beer you make on a 500L system is a whole different story; moving into the 1000L+ range in our market will land you in a whole world of hurt if you do not have deep pockets and experienced staff.

…and on that note… where is Gallows Hill heading in the foreseeable future:

At this point we are sticking to our core business of producing unique Pale Ales and India Pale Ales, but we are going to turn it up a notch in some respects.

More and more breweries are heading towards being more local. Small breweries are set to become more ingrained in their communities… growler sales, bottle sales for home consumption and being a place to meet up for a drink, a snack and a chat while stocking up on your favorite tipple will become part of our urban fabric. With that we are getting to the point where we will finalize our tap room planning and will be opening in the not too distant future.

With our own direct point of sales our product offering is also set to change… for more on this you will simply have to wait.

What is in stall for the immediate future…

First up will be the Woodstock Winter Beer Festival on 1 July. It is set to be a cozy event to enjoy good winter beers offered by a small group of local breweries. Gallows Hill will have our Winter Seasonal on tap - Stride Wide Barrel Aged Porter - as well as a keg conditioned India Pale Ale.

For the rest of the year we will be filling barrels, planning for 2018 and steadily keep the Pale Ales & India Pale Ales ticking over while one of our team explores the beery wonders of England.

It is not the size of your brew house…

There is one thing that many start-up breweries and wannabe brewers simply do not get.

The actual size of your brew house is not the determining factor, but actually how you operate the system you have.

Careful planning and management of the process can make immense differences in how much you can produce.

Over-sizing your HLT or adding an in-line water heater results in less waiting time.

Combine that with an under-back or dedicated whirlpool vessel and you can increase your production from 1 or 2 batches per day to 3 or 4 batches per day.

For roughly 30% to 50% extra investment in equipment you can increase your output volumes 300%
(That is assuming you can sell all of the beer…)

To get your thoughts going, have a look at the following sites for some inspiration:
Portland Kettleworks
Ss brewtech