Blog Update 9th March 21
In the midst of all the activity around our 5th birthday, this week was a quietly poignant moment at the brewery, and I suspect most of our staff were not even aware of what happened. For those visiting the brewery over the last couple of weeks, you would have noticed four new fermenters sitting on the slab out the front – a total of 25,000 liters of additional fermenting capacity. Over the last week, these were installed ready to receive new brews.
You might say, that’s nice, but what’s the big deal? In a brewery, there are two choke points. The first, and by far the most common, is that the brewery runs out of fermentation space. Being a craft beer business, our beers sit and develop in fermenters for up to four weeks, in contrast to 3-4 days for our big brothers. This ties up a lot of space, especially if you are growing. Guests who have been visiting the brewery since it opened in 2017 will notice that we have grown from 2 x 2500L and 4 x 5000L tanks (25,000L), to 2 x 2500L, 10 x 5000L tanks and 6 x 10,000L tanks over the four years. The latest additions will lift our total fermenter capacity to 115,000L. Over a year, that equates to about 1.5m liters of beer we can produce. With the roof design and the available space, that’s about all the fermenters we can squeeze into the brewery. Short of taking over another shed and plumbing in fermenters over there, we have reached our fermentation capacity.
The other half of the equation is how much beer wort can we produce in the brewhouse to fill those tanks. Our brewhouse produces 2500 liters per batch and until last week, we calculated it could only produce about 1.22m liters a year, running two shifts a day, 5 days a week. However, the shipping containers that the fermenters arrived in, also contained equipment to upgrade the brewhouse. Again, if you have been visiting over the last week or so, you will have noticed some men in hi-vis crawling all over the brewhouse. By upgrading our whirlpool and automating some of the brewing processes, we will be able to produce about 1.5m liters a year.
So, now we can produce 1.5m liters and we can ferment 1.5m liters, but we can no longer grow past that point – we have hit a double choke point on potential fermenter capacity and potential brewhouse production capacity.
At this point we are not yet at capacity, sitting a little below 1m liters production. However, it will not be long before we reach the 1.5m liters. So this week, we finally had to face the fact that we are going to need a new brewhouse. Not yet, not next year, but within a couple of years. Issue is, to build a new brewhouse from the ground up that allows us to brew 3, 5 or even 10m liters down the track, we have some serious work to do – it will take us 2 years to plan and build it.
Given we have a maximum of 2 years capacity left and it takes 2 years to find a place and build a new brewhouse, this week was the moment when we had to face facts – it’s time to start the planning!
Reflecting on this has been pretty humbling. We started out with a pre-opening event in 2017 with queues of locals lined out the door waiting 45 minutes to get a beer. The support from our community around us has been unwavering ever since. Even during COVID, when we could only do take-aways, people walked in and said they were coming down to buy their beers from us to make sure we survived. So, it’s great to look at all the shiny stainless steel that has accumulated in our brewhouse, but I am prouder of the fact that we have been welcomed into the community and I hope we have been able to give back and make this area just that much more liveable and friendly and enjoyable. So, huge thanks for all your support, the ride has been amazing and it’s not stopping any time soon.
And finally, if you are worried about losing your Salisbury brewhouse, it will be remaining and continue as is, even as we grow into the new venue. Upgrades are happening outside, as well as in the brewery. Come down this weekend, enjoy the new outdoor area, and while you are here, marvel at all you have helped build.
Commander in Chief