As I sit writing this article, I find myself searching for a clever metaphor to sum things up. Unfortunately, there is no sugar-coating things: Let’s face it, the World, at the moment, is pants.
Whilst some in the brewing fraternity bravely soldier on, for many of our brethren the most rational way forward would seem to be a temporary pause to take stock, recharge and plan the fightback, waiting to answer the call of our glorious hostelry’s up and down the land.
Having run a small brewery (to mixed success), I have a little understanding of the surge of emotions that must be felt. Coupled with the pressure to return to the family nest to practice social distancing, the feelings of pressure will be unimaginable.
At this tough time, it is great to see brewers, suppliers, pubs and consumers sticking together. As you will be aware (some listed below) there are lots of fabulous people throughout the industry ready and willing to help. Although in a slightly reduced capacity Team Murphy’s is still running and available to help in any way we can so please don’t hesitate to contact us for anything at all – we mean that!
So now for the practical bit – before we all beat a temporary retreat into the grind of daily Joe Wicks’ PE and 5pm news conferences, I’ve just listed a few thoughts down intended to act as some simple reminders / pointers of things that it may be worth doing before the end of this chapter. The aim of this is to try and avoid missing things that can be forgotten in the mist and noise of this battle which may lead to problems in the counterattack.
Stay safe and best wishes
Iain and the rest of Team Murphys
Clean, Secure, Safe – A guide to pressing the Pause Button
Please remember throughout the process of winding down to follow the guidelines of social distancing and stay safe.
- Beer Disposal – Please remember that if the very sad event does happen and beer has to be disposed of, keep a record of this (volume, gyles, date, even photographs) to avoid issues with HMRC. Also be careful to document any beer that is disposed of that has already been duty paid to ensure this can be reclaimed in the necessary channels. Also if the layoff ends up being a long one, don’t forget that there is a need to do a “zero” return at the usual time.
- General clean up – it’s a good idea to use this as an opportunity to get around the whole building to get it tidied up. Ensure anywhere where raw materials are stored is swept and clean, the grist cast is swept and free from debris, yeast fridges are sparking and offices, staff kitchens etc are clean.
- Raw Materials – Any dried goods and powders should be in sealed bags and stored dry and free from contamination risks. Our hop partners Charles Faram have a fantastic guide for how to store hops in peak condition and our malt partners Simpson Malt have a great guide to malt storage.
- Please remember to store any enzyme products in the correct manner in the fridge and if the shelf life does expire, remember that the activity of these products will begin to decline but this is often at a very gradual rate so they may still be usable.
- Yeast – if you use wet yeast and need long term storage, there’s still time to get your yeast to us for banking full details can be found here. Any new propagations do take time so consider options such as dried yeast if you need to get up and running fast at short notice.
- Casks and Kegs – try and ensure that all casks and kegs are cleaned before shutdown especially with this pause likely to span a proportion of the summer months. Action now will prevent stubborn crusty stains forming in empties. To keep casks fresh and ready to use, consider filling casks with water and metabisulphite. To help with this Murphys are offering free mini-metabs to all our customers see here for details. It’s not a good idea to leave water in tanks during the break so think about using this to fill empty casks.
- Descaling – because it’s best to drain liquor tanks, this is a great opportunity to take the chance to cleanse these out and think about descaling preferably with an acid descaler (such as NIPAC B). This can also be done to remove stubborn scale and beer stone from CT’s and FV’s.
- Hot Caustic Wash – consider carrying out a hot caustic wash by heating a 1-2% solution of non-chlorinated caustic solution in your copper (no more than 80oC) and circulating. This solution can be used for other functions such as locking in the paraflow / heat exchanger for a period of time then flushing through and/or covering the plates of the mash tun for a period of time to kill off any microbes and remove stains. (Always follow the recommendations and instructions of the manufacturer whenever using any cleaning chemicals).
- No vessel should be left dirty – clean all empty vessels, flush through all pipework and clean all sample taps, seals and valves. Use a dry wipe marker or some small stickers to mark each section of pipework so you know it’s been cleaned and all runs of pipes are free from grime.
- All hoses should be cleaned (where possible flushed with peracetic acid solution) and stored neat and tidy off the floor.
- Ensure all packaging equipment / areas are as clean as possible.
- Check that you pest control provision is up to date, there’s plenty of bait in bait boxes, bulbs are working in insecticutors. Remember also to close internal doors to limit the movement of pests.
- Take time to secure your premises as best as you can, double checking window and locks etc.
- Keep up to date with social media and organisations such as SIBA, BFBi, your local council and HMRC. Other good sites include camra.org.uk/pullingtogether and beerishere.org. Suppliers are also always very happy to help (we’re sat here waiting).
- Stay safe and keep well!