Well I never thought we could have had a bigger month then last month, but here goes.
This month we hired two new staff, bought a refrigerated truck for local deliveries, launched our Red Sour and Bourbon Barrel Scotch Ale, brewed like it was October-November, and put down a few new brews, but first…
Untappd in POH
The last edition of Pursuit of Hoppiness, I was asked by Michael Donaldson, the editor, to write something for the magazine. He has read these blogs and apparently enjoys my writing. I thought it would be fun to have add a bit of humor in a rant style column.
I submitted essentially a Peter Griffin (Family Guy), ‘What Grinds My Gears’ article. It was nearly a copy from the cartoon, with the topic changed. The whole thing was full of topical references from movies and TV shows. I felt pretty proud of it, and still do, it was edgy, informative and funny. The article was a humor piece…really.
However not everyone thought so…
Let me first point out that 99.95% of our interactions with customers is positive on social media, including Untappd.
When it came time for the next edition, Michael asked for another short piece, as he liked the first one so much. He also gave me the heads up that a Craig Cooper had a rebuttal to my first, which, after it was edited, was published in the most recent edition.
Here is what I have to say to Craig Cooper, and not the one from Bach Brewing. There was, sadly, a mistake around which Craig Cooper it was.
Anyway, he started by likening my writing to complaining little five year olds which was essentially what I said about people trashing beers anonymously on a website. Not very original there. Kind of like saying ‘you’re a jerk, no you are, no you are, no you are…’
Funny enough there are several articles by a Craig Cooper, who is (was) editor of the Northern Advocate, by the way, bitching about shit. In one of these, he even had the hypocrisy to say he hated ‘bullies’ on the internet! Crazy!
In his rebuttal, he then proceeds to tell a story about how he hates Pilsners yet goes on Untappd and trashes a Pilsner with a pretty disturbing description. He goes on to say he’s justified in saying whatever he wants to his Untappd mates, but like the bully on the playground he doesn’t understand the impact of those hateful words. But, hey, it was funny to them, right? He does say he realizes maybe he shouldn’t be so mean, as there is a person or persons behind that beer and actually apologizes to the brewery, kind of. Admitting is the first step, Craig.
I get social media, I do. However, as anyone with eyes can see, being anonymous gives a person more latitude to be hateful and insulting. As a brand, we choose to be positive and supportive, something we’ve learned from Stu McKinley of the Yeasty Boys, a true gentleman by the way. We interact positively with our customers and our peers. We do not insult or berate other breweries or customers on public social media platforms.
I have gone on Untappd and thrown out the odd question to folks asking if they could elaborate on a thoughtless, half-assed review. What does that do for the better good of the beer industry? Likely nothing. However being positive makes everyone feel better. That was my point in the piece – to be nice, to be educated. I said that we like to be ‘nice’ to an Untappd user the other day, his reply was, “stay off the internet.” That says it all to me.
Mystery Craig Cooper also stated that I wasn’t very smart, yet he couldn’t tell the difference between me, the person who wrote the article and the brewery I work for. He then referenced hoiking into a spittoon presumably to highlight that he isn’t a beer snob and just drinks his beer. Well, unlike wine snobs (and judges) and being a professional beer judge in New Zealand, I can’t spit beer unless it’s completely faulted and undrinkable. We have to swallow to be able to accurately access beer and its bitterness, but then I must not be very smart.
He then actually agreed with me about Untappd’s dumb badges and complimented our continuing streak with our customers and the awards before telling me to (allow me to paraphrase) shut the fuck up and keep making beer.
Thanks Craig, I will keep making beer. But I won’t shut the fuck up.
I do ignore most negativity on Untappd and have a bit of fun poking the obnoxious ones. But like a true bully, sounds like Craig can dish it out anonymously but can’t take it. So, thanks, Craig, for coming out and letting us ALL know you’re one Untappd’s bright sparks, I mean, dickheads.
Enough about that shit, now for the best stuff…
We are proud to announce that we have two new team members here at little ol’ McLeods.
First, we hired a new assistant brewer. Anita Mitchell.
Anita has worked for some well known breweries including Three Boys in Christchurch, Two Birds in Australia and most recently, I am sure she will cringe, Temple Brewing in AU. Anita has a fantastic attitude and is insanely passionate about brewing. With our steady growth and my pursuit to make better beer, we needed a person I can trust to stop at nothing to make it. I’m excited about her energy at the brewery!
Second we hired Kelly Ockwell. Kelly is a knowledgable and incredibly organized woman. She has an outstanding palate, loves beer and, is, well…simply lovely. She will be our new administrator and events coordinator.
I am so excited, as these two bring a lot to the table and will help us grow and move to the next level. Being long-term sustainable is my goal for us, while making great beer and having a bit of fun.
Milton who has been my right hand for two years now and has been with the brewery since day one. He has taken on a new role as our logistics coordinator. He is a great organizer, he will be our Swiss army knife able to fill any role on the property.
So our team now has a heck of a lot of work to do, I can’t wait to get started.
On my ever growing CAPX list, I have had a chilled vehicle on it since day one. It has been a huge priority to me but very difficult to justify financially two years ago. However today, it is the only thing to do. We have been using my partners trucks. Putting cold beer in the back and covering it with a tarp and delivering it around the region a few days a week. Not perfect but manageable. The unfortunate thing is that that kind of driving is hard on vehicles not designed for it. It was killing their vehicles and beginning to become costly. That and we have been growing, so the few cases are now full truck loads. Pallets into Auckland and the surrounds, we needed a bigger truck.
We financed a good size Toyota cube van with a chiller unit, that also has a plug in for standby. It will hold four+ pallets in the back. It should be enough for us for the next year or more. Just another step in keeping our product as cold as possible and as fresh as we can to the customer. Honk if you see us on the road!
You may have noticed, or maybe not, that we didn’t make a fresh hop beer this year. Unfortunately, harvest dates coincided with the judging of the New World Awards which I had previously committed to. I had been working with Sawmill Brewery and 8 Wired to source our own transport, yet with no one to brew it I had to pull the plug.
The more I have been thinking about it and the more I learn about hops reassures me of the decision not to brew one. The lupulin oils in hops begin to oxidise within six hours of them being cut from the bines. That is why they dry them immediately after picking. NZ Hops does a great job of organizing distribution of an insane amount of fresh hops to breweries around the country with everyone working hard to keep them looking fresh without digging further into the hop itself.
I’ve made the difficult decision to not do a fresh hop beer again, unless we can get the hops from the farm to a kettle within the six-hour window. That’s pretty much impossible unless we flew them up or brewed in Nelson. I enquired about that, and we would have to charge an astronomical amount for the kegs to make it viable if we flew them.
My other observation is they are a bit of a fad, and of the ones I’ve tried in the past few years, only a few breweries are actually getting a good beer from them. Most are one-dimensional and a waste of time and hops in my opinion. I love the style and will always seek one out, but the hype around it and the lack of quality beers makes it a bit of marketing wank.
Brett IPA/Highland Hammer
One of the first new beers I made this month was a Brett IPA.
Highland Hammer, a fun Scottish reference and a bit like a local Thor.
I love these style beers and wanted to mix it up in the line up seasonally. I got some Yeast Bay brett blends so I figured I would give them a try. This one is a standard IPA base with a huge late hop addition in the whirlpool. I used Denali and Citra, along with a dash of Zythos. It smelled amazing and the pitch has taken off quickly. Stay tuned. Keg only. It will be at the Winter Ales festival in Wellington in a couple months.
The next in the series of our fresh unfiltered IPA’s. This one is our base beer recipe with Citra, Sorachi Ace and US Cascade. Grapefruit, orange, lemon and pine. Look for it, early March. Get on the list if you want a keg.
When the weather changes and we have to add an extra blanket at night, it means its time to make Billycan again. Only a day later then when I brewed it last year. This year I tweaked it ever so slightly and adjusted the water profile a bit. It will be filtered and bottled next week. The beer is a traditional milk stout, so Marris Otter, a blend of dark malts, some caramunich and then I add Tahitian vanilla beans, cocoa and cacao nibs into the whirlpool. It also gets a lashing of treacle. All together it makes what I describe as a chocolate rum ball stout.
The name hails from what New Zealanders refer to as the old metal milk cans of days gone. A mix of kegs and bottles. Pre-orders now.
It is about to begin, we have a winters long run of cool events with some of our favorite bars and eateries on the north and south islands. We will be releasing a big social media blast in the lead up for each one, watch this space!
A quick tease…
long lunch weekend with Gatherings in Christchurch, a vegan degustation. June 16-17th.
Satya in Auckland, dinner match 27th June,
Grain vs. Grapes at Manly liquor May 26th, Marisco wines, us and Sawmill go head to head
We are brewery of the month at Regional Wines in Wellington and Hamilton wines for the month of May.
Also on the calendar, Smiths IPA challenge, Malt house IPA challenge, Winter Ales fest in Wellington, Love Bucket, Punky Brewsters, Pomeroys, LBQ and a whole lot more yet to be announced…
The labels finally arrived so we have released our Bourbon Barrel Aged Scotch Ale now, the batch is nearly sold out already so get your orders in soon.
Then our Red Sour Ale, it is settling into the bottle nicely will big ripe fruit and spice up front and a great lemony sour. The carbonation will build as it ages.
Then we have the Bourbon Barrel Aged Brown Porter which is like chocolate and bourbon. Release is next month, likely just after the Scotch Ale is out. That way we can stagger them.
Also a couple of kegs of Billycan will rest in the bourbon casks, keg only
Followed by the release of our Black Rye Sour.
Lots of fun stuff coming out with more in cue. That Imperial Maple Oat Stout as well, I have been talking about that beer for over a year!
I have even sourced some more barrels, so our collection of 45 should soon be beyond 60 with a few puncheons in the mix!
I try to steer away from bragging, I fucking hate loud mouth boasting shit.
However we have been getting some lovely press lately and I wanted to share a bit.
Obviously we got Beer of the Year from SOBA…wow
A poorly written and mis quoted article in the Mangawhai Focus, not sure if the writer had been drinking before he wrote it?
Denizen magazine had a feature about us and our Smugglers Bay program. Super cool! They made me look bad-ass, which is a feat in itself.
The last couple Air New Zealand magazines had beers of ours mentioned. Alice is great, she seems to really enjoy our beers. Thank you Alice!
We won some medals at the New World awards, sadly no golds. Porter got put in the wrong category, my bad, and our lager didn’t medal. The rest of our core range did, considering last months analysis we did very well.
Then Dish did an IPA competition, we got two awards out of fourteen given, those will be announced later in the month.
A couple of other things I am forgetting, but all up some great media for sure.
Ah the video, I almost forgot, we finally did our own video, well we had someone do it for us, a local lad named Mickay Crawley. He did a stint at the Pizza Barn a while back, most young locals have, are or will. It was his first one for pay. Then he ran off to join the Royal Navy! Good luck Mickay!
It turned out great, a link here. Just a snap shot of our little corner of the world.
Thank you everyone for supporting us!
I had to mention this as it hit me funny when I read it the other day.
A new ‘brewery’ is about to open, said the announcement on the Brewers Guild website. They were about to tackle their first commercial brew, and asked if anyone knew of a good source of yeast and hops…
Really, you are about to venture into the world of a production business, and you didn’t do your homework before now? To me that is insane. Before I would open a brewery or start a contract brand, (I never would start a contract brand by the way), I would write a business plan, and trust me, I have.
Part of that is a market analysis, which if you did one will show a very small piece of a big segment being shared by a shit ton of breweries, many of which just opened, and many more in planning, well hopefully planning.
Then you would have had to research your suppliers, who are you going to get your hops, grain, chemicals, co2, oxygen, labels, kegs, electricity, bottles, crowns, water, boxes, tape, equipment…You would also find out who is going to take your trash, spent grain, recycling? And most importantly how much does it cost, including shipping…
If you don’t know that, please DO NOT OPEN A BREWERY.
Go back and find out how expensive everything is, how crowded the market is, and what the fucking huge suck hole of Customs and Excise does to your cash flow, oh yeah and
Who are you going to sell your beer too? Guess what we are or are trying to sell to the same people.
What are you making that is going to be better then what is already out there? There is a lot of very good beer out there already. A flash label and shitty oxidized unbalanced old beer will only get you so far.
Then maybe you will second guess and not do it.
Anyone who wants to open a brewery should work in one first, learn how to brew is my advice. The best breweries out there, making the best beers are all run by people who have worked in breweries before. Yes there is the odd one or two, but the vast majority of excellent brewers have experience and spent serious time in a functional brewery before, having a go at it.
Then mortgage your fucking house, max your credit cards and spend your kids college fund like everyone else.
If we are to grow and be a prosperous industry we need businesses that are in it for the greater good, not for an investment opportunity, quick buck or because it sounds like a great idea, or even worse we have a great name for a brand and a scratch paper full of awesome beer names.
Buy crypto currencies if you want to invest in something.
For fuck sake…
Since this is my blog, I get to talk about whatever I want.
The end of this month marks my birthday. I turned forty five. A day I usually work or simply try and get through. I am trying to be a bit better about being grateful and more positive in life, from that last literary gem you might think I have a long way to go yet. I agree.
My beautiful partner planned a wonderful weekend get-away to the bay of islands.
After brewing 20,000 liters of beer this month, and still not really keeping up.
In a massive push, I was able to fill everything up and let the yeast to their stuff for a few days, so we could enjoy a much needed breather. It was amazing. I am a very lucky man.
Thanks everyone for supporting us and drinking our beer!
Happy birthday to me!
We brew more beer, Anita starts, Milton gets organized, we look at expanding our brewery, we’ll update you on the events and what is coming out next. I also look at a new yeast counting tool, always looking to be better at what we do.
Thanks for reading,