Brew Day Experiences

Know someone who likes beer and wants to learn how to brew it? Then these are the perfect gifts. Tutored Brew Days at the Temperance Street Brewery, with tried and trusted recipes where they will learn how to brew beer and then get to take it home when its ready.

0 thoughts on “Brew Day Experiences

    1. The idea is to brew the house beers in rotation, and then experiment with occasional brews. The Satanic Mills and Prestwich Pale are the current house beer brews, next up will be Manchester Sun, when I clear some more fermenters!

  1. Congratulations to you and the rest of Manchester. I thought a brewery in Temperance Street was a joke. I see now that it is an old one. Still good, though 🙂

  2. The manchester sun I tasted from the wood on sat was just fantastic so I am really looking forward to tasting the other beers from the wood too at easter

  3. Enjoyed reading that very much. When I started drinking, it was bitter or mild. You chose your pubs carefully and were greatful for an on form Wilson’s bitter. I had 3 Wilson’s pubs to choose from in Blackley Village, the 4th was a keg Wilson’s which was truely awful. There were two Holts pubs and a Tetley’s. We felt that was a wide choice.
    How spoilt we are today.

  4. Using sugar wasn’t necessarily a cost-cutting measure. Brewers continued to use sugar even in periods when it was more expensive than malt.

    I don’t believe I’ve come across a single brewery that was brewing all-malt beers in 1900. There were some – like Whitbread – who only used sugar.

    The alpha acid content of Goldings and Fuggles hasn’t changed much over the years. The earliest analyses I have (1920’s) show Goldings at over 6% alpha.

    1. That’s a myth exploded then! Cheers!

      Why do you think they did use sugar then? Possibly as a way of guaranteeing consistent strength? Being able to take a gravity reading as it went into the copper and adjusting the sugar accordingly?

    1. I wanted to stay away from the Wetherspoons pricing debate, but felt there was a need for a comparison in there.
      In general, if you’re able to spread lower overheads over more brews, you can meet their pricing structure and make money. This is why generally they tend to have on beers from more established breweries who’ve already paid off their start-up costs, or from new breweries that are willing to lose a couple of pound a firkin in exchange for marketing. It still works out cheaper than a printed advert in most beer festival programmes or local Camra branch magazines.

    2. As I’ve said elsewhere, CAMRA should get out of Tim Martin’s bum and take a more balanced attitude, if they are to keep bringing up the XX pubs close per week thing.

      CAMRA should view Wetherspoons in the same way as cask breathers – a necessary evil to allow cask ale to reach certain parts of the market, but not a core part of what CAMRA does.

  5. Surely the issue in your case is simply that you only brew 5 times a month, i.e. massively under capacity? Brew twice as much – only 10 brew runs a month – and that overhead cost of £510 a brew run is halved, and you’re making oddles more net profit.

    By choosing – or only being able – to achieve a very low volume of production and sales the business is marginal. You just need to grow. And if the answer is that you can’t because the customers aren’t there, I’m afraid that just tells us you’re unable to compete in a crowded market.

    1. We’re not brewing massively under capacity, and brewing to full capacity isn’t our business model. We have however brewed, and sold more beer every month since we started and that growth doesn’t look to be slowing down any time soon.

      1. If you have a premium product Keg makes sense as a) you can charge more for it knowing you aren’t over a barrel with limited shelf life and cellarmanship and b) can export it

        I imagine CW will be back on ‘limited’ casks before long, at a premium

        1. I hope they are, I enjoyed the casks of theirs that I did get to try. I think we’ll see them at their brewery tap when they’re able to open it more often.

          Keg is a great way to counter the loss of cellarmanship, that’s a whole other rant of mine having started out as a cellarman! And yes, it’s very few styles that you can export in cask!

    2. “massively under capacity” is an interesting statement.

      5 brews a month is low, but it rather depends how many vessels you own, and those vessels aren’t cheap either.

      doubling capacity is extremely expensive once you reach a certain size as well.

      It could predicate savings in terms of overheads, but it also means more staff (assuming your current staff are fully occupied) and more space to condition your beer, and perhaps another van and driver depending on your route to market…….

      it’s not that simple

  6. Great piece Steve and nice to see what goes on in the financial ledger (Spreadsheet really) when a brewery plans and brews a beer.

    “It’s supposed to taste like that”…I hate that!

  7. Great piece Steve, a good insight into the costs of running a small brewery. Shows the advantages of selling cask (and keg) direct through a brewery tap. I suspect if Cloudwater had a brewery tap with regular opening times (twice a week perhaps?) they would happily produce and sell cask ale.

    1. Cheers, there’s a lot of costs we have to take into account that don’t immediately come to mind.

      I believe Paul said as much himself that they’d like to see cask at their own brewery tap, and I’d like to see it there.

  8. Very honest of you.

    Is good to see it broken down somewhat although to me it underestimates the cask costs.
    Doesn’t appear to be any factoring in of the costs of at least two elements of a cask operation – empties collection & replacement/repair of damaged/lost casks.

    It also suggests that you are already suffering from not being able to get a market price for your keg as presumably there is a degree of needing to reduce prices to effectively buy your way onto the line to displace a Cloudwater, Magic Rock or Beavertown.

    1. These costs are for the day-to-day running of the brewery, not for things like investment in better equipment, or replacing lost/damaged casks. They make the “profit” even smaller. Empty collection tends to be done when dropping off new sales, so there’s no real cost there.

      I don’t reduce my prices, I charge the same whether it’s on keg or cask, as I tend to feel that cask should also be considered a premium product. I don’t sell much keg simply because it all sells out quickly on cask and I don’t get the chance to put some into keg.

  9. Great to see the data. I shall comb over it later.

    One note though at the end of the cask section it seems you’re effectively comparing your ‘P’ to a bar’s ‘GP’ right? That’s unfair if so. To be an equal comparison you need to subtract the bar’s operating-costs-per-cask from that GP. (Correct me if I am wrong.)

    1. You’re not wrong, and that’s why I say “It’s also important to note that profit for the bar is not profit but their takings minus the price they paid for it. They still have their overheads to pay!”

      1. Ah, right, I’ve read that bit now.

        IMO the table would be more accurate to label them as different measures of “profit”. Gross and net. Or folk might read it the wrong way, folk in a hurry like me who only look at the table 😉

        Anyway – great to see all this info.

        I personally think selling a 5.6% cask direct to pubs for only £75 ex is fucking bonkers mind 😉 Not that I’m a brewer…

  10. Great read, thanks.

    It looks like a chunk of the keg profit is eaten up by the fact that you need more kegs per batch than you do casks. Is this because KeyKegs only come in a max size of 30 litres? Are there no Firkin-sized one-way kegs on the market?

    1. The profit difference between keg and cask is really down to the fact that casks are reusable, and kegs aren’t. Not sure why they don’t do a larger keg, possibly because people have got used to the 30 litre size.

  11. As a publican (Freehouse). That is really interesting. I have said more than once in the Cloudwater debate that our costs of heating and lighting the pub are a massive part of the cost of a pint. So good to see you say “It’s also important to note that profit for the bar is not profit but their takings minus the price they paid for it. They still have their overheads to pay!”

    1. I’d love to do a similar thing to this to show the pub side of things. I used to run them back in the 90s, and beer pricing hasn’t changed much since then, yet rent, rates, etc have gone up, and minimum wage and now the workplace pension (wasn’t that supposed to be covered by National Insurance?) have certainly gone up!

  12. Too many people are price focused when it comes to a pint of beer, CAMRA don’t help this mindset, neither do the breweries who are willing to sell shit beer for next to nothing. It’s holding the industry back, beer has been too cheap for too long. People need to accept that if they want great beer, they’re going to have to pay a fair price.

      1. A wage rise? I’ve not paid myself a wage at all yet! Everything the brewery has made has gone back into it to improve and expand.

  13. Do you think a brewpub would be a better business model? I ask as this is the approach we are thinking about taking. How much profit does the Brewery tap bring in and do you find that folk are keen on off sales?

    1. Personally I think that a brewpub is a better business model, but I’ll also be honest and say I’ve not really looked into it as such. A permanent brewery tap is a little different (license, planning, etc) and we find ours works really well. The amount of profit you’d make from it really varies on the beers you put on, and how many you can sell when you open.

    1. I use a dried yeast, and a fresh packet every time. Wet yeast didn’t give the consistency I needed and was giving me esters I didn’t want.

    1. I have a very clever spreadsheet that handles it all for me. The figures come from my brew sheet which does everything from theoretical og,fg,ibu,cals etc through to actual figures, duty rates/payments, brewing and packaging costs and recommended sale values.
      It’s been checked against HMRC’s calculations for both individual brews and monthly returns so I know it works. Trying to work it out by hand every time was a nightmare.

      1. yeah – the duty element of beer seems to be a bit of a dark art – why is it not simple? I am trying to understand it… and failing

  14. Fabulously informative Steve ! Always ‘knew’ it was a challenge for Brewers, now that your figures have explained it I really do know. Thanks.
    Personally I usually prefer Cask, but have had some brilliant Keg. It’s about choice for me, I’m not a brewer, just a consumer, so want choice. As you say ” I care that it’s good”


  15. Since you are charging VAT, I’m assuming you are VAT registered.

    It’s not my specialty, but can’t you reclaim the VAT back on your running costs and ingredients?

    1. We can indeed claim VAT back, but there isn’t VAT on ingredients and the figures for the running costs take VAT into account. VAT paid out is offset against the VAT that comes in, so each month we pay HMRC some money from VAT that we’ve charged.

      1. Ok, it’s just that you had a separate line for VAT in the expenses, which you then claim back.

        VAT is complicated!

  16. Nice little piece – thanks for the info.

    I think the obvious things for me as someone setting up a brewery (albeit in France) who is looking at maximising profit at startup, is:

    – consider 50cl bottles; less cost to buy (per ml), less caps, less labels, less man hours, less storage, less transport costs, bigger L volume in sales usually.
    – I have found that a 12bbl system (roughly double this one) is about the minimum to realistically start and make money. Why? Well just look at those figures again and double everything with a few important exceptions….electricity is expensive (in this example) but does not double with a double volume brew – generally 15% more in same copper). All the fixed costs (called running costs here), do not increase, so are effectively halved.
    – sell to higher profit buyers. Bars are necessary (as are kegs and a good point is made in the article) but there must be a bigger buyer willing to keep that margin for bottle sales – plenty of online re-sellers in the UK who would take new brews! Some willing to pay transport and plug on their sites is exclusive.

    Great article and as has been said a few times – great that these figures are out and about on the net from some forward thinking brewers. Would be interested to know what volume purchase price concessions people expect in the UK – this is an issue in France…anyone buying 1000 bottles wants a Weatherpersons price!

    1. Increasing capacity would indeed make producing the beer cheaper, but you are also increasing the amount of beer that you have to sell. In an ever increasingly crowded and competitive market, that gets harder and harder. Being realistic about what you can actually sell is very important. Would love to hear how you get on in France, it’s a country that is about to become a hotbed for beer again!

      As for bottling in 50cl bottles, again it’s a case of then having to sell them. The majority of craft beer drinkers want 33cl bottles, older seasoned drinkers want 50cl bottles. So it’s knowing the market that will buy your beers, and packaging them for them.

      1. Will let you know how it goes here in France – we look at 50cl bottles as a unique size which stands out (we do the Vichy NRW bottles) and I think this makes people feel they get value for money if the price is only slightly higher – you could of course do both sizes and see what impact it has.

        Sales are obviously the key to all of this…

        1. We do both 33cl and 50cl. Some bottle shops we deal with prefer the 33cl, some the 50cl. Although that changes with different beers too.

    1. I can hopefully answer that one…

      Beer duty from 13/03/17 is £19.08 as you say. In the (totally brilliant!) article, Steve says “Hl%” is 0.43. That’s 7.6 hectolitres, multiplied by 5.6% abv (i.e. 7.6 x 5.6/100 = 0.43).

      I think you already understand this of course, it just helped me to figure it out too on paper! The key thing is the “small brewery relief” or whatever it’s called, that for production up to 5000 hectolitres, means a duty saving of 50%. So small brewers now pay at a rate of £9.54 instead of £19.08, if for example you’re brewing under approx. 60 barrels per week.

      Thanks for the original article by the way, it’s really useful even for the avid home-brewer.

    1. Hi, thanks. I am in contact with a couple of journalists, and will no doubt be in contact with more as the overall effects of these proposed changes come to light. There may be another piece on the history of SBR before I finish with the summary, as I’ve been directed to some rather interesting reading the the Hansard reports. Once done, I’ll be actively pushing it out to journalists and MPs, hopefully before they make any decisions.

  17. Good article no-one properly involved in the trade should be ignoring or failing to understand this push to tinker with SBR, it will have far-reaching consequences for traders and consumers if its not stopped. I recommend you send it to the CMA and ask for a inquiry into the wholesale beer market whilst you’re at it and get the other unfair practices of big beer kicked into touch. Regards Chris, Pubs Advisory Service.

    1. When I’ve finished these articles (there was only meant to be one more, but it looks like there may be an additional one, or two), then I’m planning on turning them into a single, full report to submit to regulatory bodies and journalists.

      The whole TL/DR of it is that it seems a lot of “trade bodies” are all the same few people/companies using money from bigger/international corporations to skew the industry in their favour.
      It’s not just brewing either, but as I’m sure you’re aware of more than me, the pubs side of things too.

  18. Really well prepared piece, offering realistic reasons for the views of the larger and middling breweries support for reform!