About to try a new brew. Interested?

I am making a new craft brew. I need some volunteers. If you are keen to be a guinea pig then just post a comment here. That’s all t takes.

How fragile we are….

It has been quite some time since I have put fingers to keyboard about Quarry Dog. What a year it has been for both Glen and I!!! We had plans – big plans and although we have not forgotten our objective, distractions from our day jobs have meant that Quarry Dog was sidelined for the last few months. But now – as it is with 2011 just around the bend – we have to rethink our objectives for the next year. The good news is that Quarry Dog is way up there…So watch this space.

A note to home brewers

I have been making beer at home for quite a while now. While I was still buying beer, I collected bottles to use in my home brews. The best bottles are obviously those wonderful “Grolsh” bottles with the sprung lid. They clean quite easily and are of good quality glass.

I also collected a number of other bottles as Grolsh is not my favourite tipple including Heineken, Windhoek – Lager and Light, Jack Black and Woolies low alchohol amongst others.

Of all these bottles, Heinekin and Windhoek are the easiest to clean. Just a good soak in a bath of hot water does the trick.

From a fluid dynamics perspective (mostly filling the bottle), Windhoek are the best.

From a hand capping perspective bottles that only have a very thin glass ring are terrible because the hand capper does not grip properly and you end up getting up to 8% wastage. I have also found that these bottles force you to use a little more than the required force and end up cracking the neck (which the cap manages to hold together so that sometimes you don’t notice it until you try and open it.).

So if you are going to use 340ml bottles try and collect those that have a tapered ring for the capper. Use those that are of a better quality glass. You will get a feel for this from the weight of the bottle when compared to poorer quality bottles.

Screw cap bottles to not work with the normal hand capper.

If you have the money then get a couple of cases of Grolsh or even better try and get the 5L bottle…

What’s happening…

Glen and I have decided that we need to do some more homework. I have been out of school for 25 years, but have committed to writing the GCB exam in November 2010. Am I crazy or what?

Hoops and hurdles

It is no mean feat starting a brewery. The concept and experimentation is one thing. Between Glen and I we have produced more than 400 liters of home brewed beer of 10+ varieties. We have been our own labour force to clean bottles and fermentation buckets. Played at being a chemist preparing the wort, adding the yeast and testing the gravity of our brews. Played at being marketing by writing posts for this blog and doing research, designing labels. And, well, here we are – all two of us – ready to take it to the next stage. Oh sure, we have drunk it too.

In a previous life, I worked at Stormhoek. Stormhoek perfected and milked the simple approach to life. Small marketing budget, bright people with huge world shaking ambitions – some too great for them – resulting in a unfortunate and premature demise – hopefully they can still pull it back together.

But what Stormhoek did well was have a good story, a good product and passionate people (our own and customers). The combination resulted in a world wide phenomenon. We hope to replicate that. Although on a smaller and more local scale. For now anyway.

Practicalities first though.

In South Africa, the National Liquor Authority regulates the industry – both manufacture and distribution. So to get Quarry Dog from concept to shelf, we need to get the appropriate license. The license can be either distribution, manufacturing or both and the cost is determined by your expected turnover.

There is more, you need to prove a commitment to Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) and combating alcohol abuse.

So considering where we are now that is the logical next step.

I will keep you posted.

And Version 3…

First label draft…

Give us your thoughts…Version 2 already…thanks for the comments guys. Phew the speed of the Internet…

Here’s Lucy

I'm LucyJust in case you didn’t think I exist, I am Lucy – the only real Quarry Dog…

Bottle it…

So now we have a beer fermenting, a label (finishing, glue chosen). Depending on how quickly (or slowly) your beer is going to be ready – it’s time to choose your container. Glass is preferable over plastic (even though the plastic bottles work – it just don’t feel right – like recently experienced by beer drinkers at the World Cup). The colour is as important as the shape, but often shape comes at a price too.

For now we will go with the standard North American Long Neck -like the Beck’s bottle far right. It holds approximately 340 ml (apparently that should read 341 ml as generally agreed amongst the main international brewers.

Certainly beyond the nice fresh green colour, the bottle rests nicely in the hand particularly as our target market is of the fairer sex. Also you can hold it at the neck if you like. The other popular dumpie style bottles just look like a little fat beer drinker so I don’t want to go there. Slimmer, taller can also make your beer look a little paler and lighter…good when trying to attract the hipper, fitter consumers.

These bottles are also easy to get, simple to clean etc. And given that 85% of Europeans prefer drinking from glass it’s a given what it should be made of.

Decision made. Woof!

A tough question – label finishing

Now we have a label – well not yet – how do you finish it. I don’t mean completing the design either.

I mean – what glue do you use? And whether you varnish or not (if using paper labels). If you are not using paper labels then there is a wide range of other label types to use – at a cost of course. There are clear and foil labels to name a few or you can just “print” directly onto the bottle – like they do with Corona.

As usual everything comes at a cost.

A good line for me, (especially coming from a home brew perspective) is:

  • Visual appeal
  • Environmental friendly – water soluble glue with no unfriendly chemicals (comes off easily so that bottles can be washed and reused)

So I think at this stage for Quarry Dog it should be paper with a slight varnish so that it does not come off immediately if immersed in water / ice. The glue should be biodegradable which may cost more, but is conducive to being environmental friendly. Ta da! Decision made.

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