Our first brew of 2021 was at the end of April and we’ve been playing catch up ever since.
The brewing hiatus at the start of the year was the longest dry spell since Rob started brewing at Swannay in 2006. We did not run out of stock during the silent period but we have had fluctuating availability on even our core beers since.
Trust us when we say this is as frustrating for us as it is for you. There are many factors at play and we’ll list the main ones here.
First, the lack of brewing at the start of the year. We began the year in a lockdown state still unsure of how things were going to pan out. We had already dumped 1,000s of litres of beer and we were loath to risk dumping any more. We had a decent stock of bottles and cans so decided to make the most of the lull in demand and get the brewhouse moved in the quiet spell.
We’d worked hard to secure the extra funding required to complete our over budget building project and were told indicatively that works would commence in March so we rushed to get the brewhouse moved ASAP. It did take longer than anticipated to move the plant and get going again and alas we’ve still seen precious little of the builders (very frustrating - a story for another blog).
Second, we admit that we did not expect the instant demand that re-opening was going to create. All of a sudden, relative to that previous 12 months, we needed a lot of beer.
Over the course of a year our production levels are reasonably smooth but we sell more in the summer than the winter. So In the winter we over produce and build up a stock and in the summer we sell more than we make and use up some of our stock. This summer we’ve had no buffer stock so it’s been hand to mouth - what we brew one week we more or less sell the next. (Actually a situation we always aimed for but as is seemingly often the way, the dream was better than the reality).
Third, ironing out production issues. We took longer installing the kit than anticipated as we tried to do it as permanently as we could, which should be cheaper in the long run.
We had temperature issues that has held up canning runs but we think we’ve sorted these out now. Not used to having an insulated building and needing to get beer to zero degrees C!
We still rely on partners for bottling our beers and they’ve had their issues too. The minimum batch size for bottling has increased to a level that takes up 3 days of our production. So if we brew for bottles one week, 3/4 of our week is taken up by brewing for bottles. This does not give us much scope to build up a cask stock (but we have filled casks of every batch to date, the pub demand is stong).
Two weeks ago we had quite a time of it and the icing on the cake was being informed of a CO2 shortage that put our bottling schedule back a further 2 weeks.
We had a batch of Scapa Special bottled last week and more than half of it is pre-sold. Our next bottling slot is 3 weeks away with at least a 2 week processing time after that. So a minimum of 5 weeks until the current Scapa Special stock is replenished - what’s in stock now will not last!
Perhaps this is the time to put more of our core beers in cans?
Back in stock this weekend (stock up while you can):
Thanks as ever for your support.