It’s been over six months since our last catch up and things are continuing to progress at Magic Rock HQ….

We kicked the year off with an intensive three day flavour training course for 18 members of our staff from all departments of the business. Led by the excellent Amaey from Aroxa flavour standards, he trained us to better identify production, packaging and serving flaws in our beers and the ways in which we can make steps to prevent and rectify them.
The course was an eye opener for many of us, reminding us how important it is to continually analyse our output critically and ensuring quality takes highest priority in our day to day work. Everyone who attended the course (whether they had done similar courses in the past or not) came out of the process with a raised awareness of aroma and flavour in beer and a better ability to identify off flavours and common problems with beer. We’re currently discussing offering regular off flavour training for members of the public in our Tap- watch this space for announcements once we’ve figured out the logistics of running these courses.

In terms of production, 2017 has been excellent so far; the response to our small batch labelled 500ml and 330ml cans has been amazing and we’re committed to their regular production for the foreseeable future. We have one more collaborative labelled ‘Vice’ series beer to release before the end of summer and then the 500ml canned IPA’s will be back. We’re also experiencing such high demand for our core 330ml cans month on month that we’ve started the process of acquiring some more capacity to help us satisfy the increasing demand.

We have six new 100hl FV’s and an additional bright beer tank currently on order and expected to be with us by September. These tanks will increase our fermentation capacity by around 70% to 1200hl and our annual production will jump from 12,600hl to around 18,000hl this year.

With the extra capacity, we’ll require additional cold storage, so with this in mind we have taken the lease on an additional 5,500Sq ft. of warehousing across the road (which is ironically the same site that had delayed our expansion back in 2014). We are currently completing fit out of the site which will home both an additional 4,000Sq ft. of cold storage, and allow us to double the size of our barrel-ageing programme to around 300 barrels. Expect to see some new sours, stouts and other barrel-aged specials in the future!

The plan is to relocate the barrels which are currently housed in the taproom so we can install a 5hl pilot kit. Having a small brew kit will allow us the freedom and flexibility to experiment with new recipes and knock out lots of specials and one-off beers exclusively for our taproom and special events. The pilot kit will be housed in its own self-contained unit within the taproom, with all of the necessary services, ventilation and viewing windows so tap customers can see the brewing in process.

Another imminent production improvement we’re excited about is our new yeast storage and propagation system, which will be arriving soon. These hygienic pressure vessels enable us to propagate and store a number of yeasts in their best condition, rather than buying them in wet (which is expensive) or using dry yeasts. Healthy yeast is the key to good fermentation, meaning consistent flavour profiles and better quality, so we’re very happy to be improving in this area.

We’ve also recently made improvements to our waste handling. With the addition of a purpose-built stainless steel screen and larger settling tank, we can further reduce the quantity of solids which enter the drains and provide a larger buffering capacity. This in turn means we will reduce the need to balance the pH of our effluent with additional caustic or acid.

As we increase production, we continue to expand our personnel and we’ve added a number of key positions since December, including Christa Sandquist in production, Millie Copestake-Edwards in sales, along with Ryan Mitchell in warehousing and Russel Evans as Drayman (don’t worry Alan Robinson is moving into the brewery full time).

Our Taproom continues to go from strength to strength, we’re amazed at its growing popularity and very proud that the local community has taken it into its hearts. To help us with capacity, we’ve made some improvements to our sheltered area outside (additional lighting and timed heating), for days when the weather isn’t so great, or we need more seating at busy times.

We are also extending the inside bar to give us some more prep space and are in the process of licensing the outside area. With this new license in place, we’ll be able to serve more people easily with a secondary pop-up bar outside for busy times such as match days (which for the following season at least will be Premier League match days!) As the official beer partner of HTAFC, we will of course be serving Hat Trick on the outside bar, along with two kegged beers and cans available to either drink on site or to takeaway.

That’s about it for the time being, thank you for your continued support, onwards and upwards!

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