Categories
Beer Events

Loka Polly “Augment Range” Launch via Jolly Good Beer

LAUNCH DATE: Friday 8th March everywhere except Saturday 9th March for Kill The Cat in London.

 

So… a few weeks ago our Welsh juice-bomb brewer friends Loka Polly got in touch to ask if we could help them get their Augment Range launch around to some awesome bars in our patch of the UK. What else were we going to say but “hell yeah!”  And the timing worked well to start talking about full coldchain in connection with this launch. We were on the cusp of getting our refrigerated Iveco on the road – after 9 months of planning. This being the first step on our road to full coldchain.

The Augment Range beers are a perfect example of the type of beer most in need of a developing UK coldchain distribution standard – massively dry hopped and dependent on punchy hop volatiles. These hop aromas and flavours are unstable and degrade rapidly in ambient conditions – and beer oxidative changes dull all those juicy notes. Time and heat are the enemies of beer – as beer quality god Charlie Bamforth is well known for sciencing like a boss: “any beer will change and deteriorate with time. There are a number of big enemies, but the major ones are oxygen and heat”. (Get his book “Freshness” if you are interested in beer quality, and this podcast interview with Bamforth is always worth a listen – “one of the most significant things that that anybody can do to maximise the shelf-life of their product is to store it cold” @ 15:50.)

 

Here’s a brief background of Augment in Loka Polly’s own words:

 


“Last year whilst working with some of our brewing heroes, we had a spark of inspiration. What if we amplified our beers; bringing the hop bills up to the max; drawing direct inspiration from those same brewing heroes?

We’ve been working meticulously behind the scenes since then and are now proud to add the Augment range to our brewing portfolio. Introducing Rosa, Spur, and Patternist – the first of this new permanent range.”

 

Hops! Hops! Hops! MORE HOPS! 🙂

 

Here’s a map of all the awesome venues we’re supplying Augment Range beers to – these beers were collected with our refrigerated Iveco on Friday and shipped direct to our coldstore. (The yellow pins are Loka Polly in Wales and Jolly Good Beer in East Anglia. Note that Loka Polly are also supplying venues in their area and north direct.) Note that the Kill the Cat event in London is SATURDAY 9th March.

We’re guaranteeing coldchain to the coldchain-ready blue snowflakes – Hopmaster General, Rushden; Kilder Bar, Birmingham; The Stoneworks, Peterborough – these venues have the sort of 4°C direct-draw coldstorage installs that Jolly Good Beer promotes as the best sort of beer storage and dispense at retail (the Hopmaster General and KIlder Bar are actually Jolly Good Beer installs).

 

Brewery @ 4°C
⇒ Transport @ 4°C
⇒ Warehouse @ 4°C
⇒ Transport @ 4°C
⇒ Bar @ 4°C
⇒ Consumer (intah mah mouth!!)

 

And we’re another mile down the road to full coldchain… in 2019 the plan is to move all our vehicles to refrigeration and be ready to connect up all venues for coldchain delivery and connect up as many breweries as possible for coldchain collection – and grow the number of breweries and retailers we can offer full coldchain quality to!

Categories
Beer Industry Craft Beer Jolly Good Beer

On The Road To Coldchain

 

In my 2018 wrap-up “State of the Jolly Good Nation” post I briefly touched upon the subject of coldchain and stated “I hope that 2019 sees us setting up our first 100% coldchain connections for UK beer.”

 

Well, here we are on the 1st of March 2019 and I’m sat in the passenger seat of our 7 tonne refrigerated Iveco with Rik driving us from Cambridgeshire (home) to Loka Polly brewery in North Wales. We will be collecting about two tonnes of their newly launching “Augment” range in keg and can to take from their own coldstorage to our coldstorage … 4°C all the way! We will then ensure selected venues (those with 4°C coldstorage) we will be covered by refrigerated vehicle deliveries too. Folks participating in the Augment launch at this quality level are: The Stoneworks, Peterborough – Hopmaster General, Rushden – Kilder Bar, Birmingham (plus many other great bars who will be getting this beer super fresh and chilled for most of its short lifespan until the 8th!)

 

Brewery @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Bar @ 4°C
Consumer (intah mah mouth!!)

 

And that is coldchain. If you remove one of those “4°C” links and replace it with ambient you no longer have a chain. This is why us at Jolly Good Beer rarely use the phrase “coldchain” because it feels dishonest to be using it without some FULL coldchain implemented from brewer to consumer.

 

With the distinct exception of some higher standards for established cask ale distribution, most wholesaler distributed UK beer moves around the UK as follows… and I gratuitously throw in the word “craft” now mainly to draw a distinction between traditional pubs and the new wave of beer retail…

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
Warehouse @ ambient
Transport @ ambient
“Craft” Retailer @ ambient (10°C if lucky)
Consumer (nah, I’ll pass)

 

In 2014 I started Jolly Good Beer and we did this:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Craft” Retailer @ ambient (10°C if lucky)
Consumer (umm…? Yeh, OK, go on then)

 

I’m not sure if we were the first to be fully coldstored or not (for all beer not just cask!) – but we were possibly the first to go to 4C and first to really start thinking about real coldchain distro. From this base we’re building up a set of customers who fix the problem at the retail end too, giving us this:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ ambient
⇒ Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Craft Retailer @ 4°C (wot cares)
Consumer (yeh, this is good)

 

Direct Draw install in Kilder Bar coldroom

Amongst Jolly Good Beer customers these 4°C beer heroes are: The Stoneworks, Hopmaster General, Kilder Bar, The Rusty Bucket, Double Barreled Brewery Tap – and we have more in the works as new bar and bar improvement projects line up for 2019.

 

It’s worth noting that good traditional pubs have reliable ~10°C chilled cellars and this is also pretty great for beer on the assumption that sensible pubs are buying for at most the next fortnight of supply and not keeping stock stashed at 10°C for weeks on end. (Flash coolers and long draw are another problem entirely.) It’s really only with the advent of “craft beer” that this weird low quality make-do standard of kegs sat in ambient spaces and flash cooled for dispense started to become a thing regularly seen. Meanwhile the standard for off-trade is nearly entirely warm beer on warm shelves… albeit slowly the “store cold” message is spreading and at least some shops are deploying refrigeration for stock of the more sensitive beers… but very few are like Hereford Beer House who keep all their stock and back-stock refrigerated. Bear that in mind: you see stock in fridges, hurrah, but how is the “back room” stock being kept?

 

But the take-home (beer) here is: coldstorage at retail (both off- and on-trade) is slowly becoming “a thing” and we must celebrate these folk working to make beer better, not merely running with the grim “it’ll do” status quo. And Jolly Good Beer wants to create the supply chain to match. (Literal quote, I was once told: “But nobody else is doing this, I don’t see any point in bothering” – from a person who doesn’t really like beer at all but thought the “craft beer” sector was the cash-cow they wanted to yoke.)

 

In recent years we have seen some improvements in the import side of the industry – in our case notably for Amundsen, Stillwwater, and Against the Grain the good people at Cask International set up the supply chain to our warehouse at 4°C. Hurrah! And the same for our direct import shipment from Firestone Walker. It seems a bit mad we’re getting foreign beer delivered to warehouse at higher standards than UK breweries use! So for selected imports and selected bars in 2018 we got to:

 

Brewery @ 4°C (some!)
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ ambient
Retailer @ 4°C
Consumer (yeh, this is good)

 

But this is a tiny fraction of what we do – why doesn’t the UK beer get the frigid love?

 

Anyway – come end of 2018 in our small Jolly Good Beer world to bars “doing it right” we had just these pesky vehicle links to deal with. Not so much a problem in mid-winter, but realistically that’s maybe 2 months of not-so-much-of-a-problem and almost no weeks at all where temperatures actually drop to an average of 4°C or below. And this week we had “record” February warmth… not feeling so chilled now, eh? The worst vehicle link is that one to us from the brewery – where if you’re lucky a PM pallet arrives AM the next day within about 18 hours. But often it arrives more like 24 hours later in the arvo. And in the worst cases something goes wrong (one in ten sorta thing) and it doesn’t arrive until the next day and the pallet has been who-knows-where in transit for 48 hours and arrives warm to the touch. Even in the ideal case of a 12 hour next-day I’ve measured beer shipped from brewery coldstore arriving in smallpack (the most sensitive format) at around 20C in summer.

 

So the next goal of Jolly Good Beer was to fix that transport link and about 9 months ago I applied for my Operators License so I could acquire my first HGV. This week after a complicated 9 month gestation I have given birth to a coldchain by way of our refrigerated 7 tonne Iveco van. We’ve done two outgoing runs with this van – thus solving the least-damage “last mile” problem of the coldchain, but until we have beer arriving chilled we don’t have a chain! Thus today Rik and I find ourselves enroute to North Wales and Loka Polly and our first full coldchain product going to consumers via excellent retailers. It’s just a small start… and a special case of a product/range launch… but over the next few weeks we will be sorting out regular coldchain backhaul routes to key breweries who run by our own coldstorage standards internally and brew the most sensitive beers. Over the course of 2019 we’ll be phasing out all ambient vehicles and moving everything to refrigerated. (Finance offers invited, lol.) We’re connecting the dots – where the dots are our coldstorage and existing brewery and bar coldstorage, and the lines are refrigerated vehicles.

 

THIS IS COLDCHAIN

 

Brewery @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Warehouse @ 4°C
Transport @ 4°C
Bar @ 4°C
Consumer (intah mah mouth!!)

 

It can be the difference between merely “good” beer and outstanding beer — between the “good enough” status quo and being top-of-the game. Especially when it comes to modern hop-forward beer styles.

 

So – see y’all at Stoneworks on the 8th (my nearest Coldchain-Ready bar) – or in spirit at one of the other awesome Loka Polly Augment Range launch venues.

 

Posted from the passenger seat of our refrigerated Iveco on the way to Wales!

Categories
Jobs Jolly Good Beer

Driver(s) Required

Role: Delivery Driver (+ some possible warehouse time) 
Qualifications: Clean License – C1 + current HGV CPC is an advantage
Pay: Starting from £10 p/h – dependent on experience / qualifications
Hours: From 3 days to full-time,  8am starts – routes up to 10 hours (including stops & breaks)
Location: Warehouse is at PE14 9AL – near Wisbech (map link)

Jolly Good Beer is a wholesale distributor of beer and associated products. We are expanding our vehicle fleet and delivery routes in Spring 2019 and have a need for one or two more delivery drivers. Ideally we would like at least one of these to be familiar with operating HGVs and have their driver’s CPC and tachocard. We are operating one van-format Iveco HGV and hope to add a second one this year. Forklift cert is also favourable. But for the right candidate training will be provided.

Mostly the job involves driving and delivering beer to pubs, bars, and off-licenses. We operate a full “dray” service with beer delivered to cellar – so some familiarity with cellars is also an advantage. Vans are equipped with cellar ropes and crash pads. Some heavy lifting is an unavoidable aspect of the job.

This is a normally employed role with all standard employment benefits. You’ll have agreed minimum working hours in the week (probably at least 30). Paid annual leave will be allocated on the basis of 25 days (in addition to bank holidays) pro-rata to hours worked. Some weekend work may be required on a roster for HGV route connections, this may also involve overnight stays (accommodation and meals covered).

If you’re interested and there’s more you want to know drop us a line via email to: contact@jollygoodbeer.co.uk

 

Categories
Beer Industry Jolly Good Beer

State of the Jolly Good Nation – 2019

Well, we’ve called time on the “festive season”, kicked out the stragglers, locked the door and breathed a sigh of relief. Yeah, I’m not really into it. Can you tell?

It is the time of year for reflection and resolutions, so I’ll go with the flow on that…

It has been a big year, a hard year but one of significant achievements – as I come to list some of them now I’m not sure how we managed it all! This is thus a rather large post… grab a beer, grab a seat…

 

The “TL;DR

Growth in 2018

  • 5 weekly routes ⟶ 8
  • 7 delivery zones⟶ 11
  • 12,000 mile2 coverage ⟶ 20,000
  • 5 staff ⟶ 10
  • 2 vehicles ⟶ 3
  • ~25% revenue growth

Achievements & highlights in 2018

  • Built a mobile coldstore direct-draw system in May
    • Dubbed the “Esky Bar” or #GFEB (affectionately known as Pablo)
    • Allowing us to support top-of-game exemplar dispense at over 10 beer events in 2018
    • Highlight: supporting Cloudwater at IndyManBeerCon plus 4th year supporting NZ Beer at LIBF
    • Achievement: bringing top-spec keg dispense to 4 CAMRA beer festivals
  • Installed over 100 lines of dispense – about 75% of it direct-draw, or near enough to
  • Gained HGV operators license
    • … leading to now securing our first chilled HGV
  • Had gas pressure article published by Brewers Journal – we are now “published” 😉
  • Sold beers from some of the UK’s finest breweries – of course! Obvious, but deserves inclusion.
  • Navigated our first direct no-middle-man coldchain imports (Firestone Walker)
  • Still here, alive and kickin’

And we end 2018 in a state of pleased & cautiously optimistic angst… It’s been a good year for achievements, but frankly I’m glad to have 2018 behind us, it often felt like a maelstrom inexorably drawing me in to pull me under. Circling ever closer to the depths. It hasn’t been an easy one – trying to balance and resource business growth it was, for me, a year of long hours and no weekends (and yeah, I know, hospitality industry innit… it’s no easier for many of our customers.) It was a year of hitting limits – mainly my personal limits – and those limits causing delays, customer service issues, things I consider failures. But we have worked through them – expanded the team, and Jolly Good Beer is becoming more of a “we” and less of an “I”. Perhaps the tide is turning, the sea calming, the spin slowing – the grim portal to the dark depths closing. What now… hypothermia? Sharks?

I’d like to focus on four subjects key to Jolly Good Beer – and present a bit of background on these, and then try and think ahead into where we hope these things are going in 2019…

 

People – The Lifeblood of Business

Melodrama aside – the key point in the deep dark watery paragraph above is the growing of the team. One year ago there were five of us – Lee and Peter in the warehouse and driving, Bill in the warehouse and doing some admin, Helen offsite raising invoices, and me doing a bit of all of the aforementioned and everything else. Bill left at the end of March, as he needed to move home to the US – it was sad to see him go as he was an effective and enthusiastic worker. And it wasn’t until he left that I realised how essential he had been… we’d lost a lot of blood… hello additional 30 working hours in my week!

Over the ensuing months we had a very bumpy ride, a couple of recruitment attempts that didn’t really pan out – which is a very high overhead situation for a tiny business (paperwork, training). We were stretched thin, hard up against limits – which caused a whole load of problems as I failed to adequately cover all of supply, sales, support, and accounting (to name just 4 of my jobs at the time). Then we had Dan start taking on some sales & account management load – it was the start of a much needed blood transfusion, I was then also lucky enough to nab Justin with his extensive industry experience – and between them Dan and Justin are taking over most of the customer-facing sales and accounts operation. The next lucky break was Amber – another case of the right person at the right time, well, to be honest the right time would have been April – but we should count our blessings. Amber comes with the right connections and experience to run the procurement & inventory operation fantastically, and you all have her to thank for keeping us in beer over the last 3 months – and for some of the fresh additions too. In the background Helen is continuing to do an excellent job – and helping more on further accounting, Lauren too did a good job tightening up our credit control but has had to take some time out to focus on other things now.

In the warehouse we’ve gone from two to four – with Rik joining in July then Simon coming on late in 2018. We’ve got an additional van and another on the way shortly. Lee, Peter, Rik, and Simon are the muscle of the business – getting the beer organised in the coldstore, picking, loading, and delivering. Rik is ostensibly our HGV driver, we just don’t quite have the HGV yet – and he is also very handy with the tools so has been helping with dispense work as well. Meanwhile Peter has stepped up to the plate, aided by Rik, in generally getting warehouse operations functioning more smoothly.

Finally, there’s still me here of course – and from time to time a bit of Kat dealing with IT and events.

That’s the team right now… we’ve doubled from about five to about ten. (I say “about” because we’re a mix of various time loadings!)

In 2019 in the fairly near future we’ll be looking for at least another driver, HGV preferably, and probably something in more core accounts/finance as attempts so far to outsource that work have yielded fairly abysmal results. It would be nice to see us supporting a team of 15 by the end of the year. Three more in warehouse/logistics, one more in admin, and perhaps another in dispense tech.

We’ve got a long way to go still, and no doubt hiccups will happen – fact of life really. But in 2019 I am hoping to bring our customer service back to where I want it to be. Our people are the key to making that happen.

 

Vehicles – Logistics is What We Do!

Really JGB is a logistics business – a specialist one of course, but ultimately our job is to move physical objects around the place. In a world of massively commoditised logistics operating a quality focused logistics operation has proven to be difficult. “The market”, per se, doesn’t value supply chain quality above supply chain cost. (People complain endlessly about certain courier firms… yet still use them.) So we see a lot of beer being shunted around the place via crappy courier and pallet operations.

I was delivering to a customer recently (I still do the odd delivery run, when resource limits demand it) and they commented how grateful they were that we actually deliver to their cellar, like a proper brewery dray ought to. I inspected for empties and took ours away, for which they were also grateful. The problem, the chap said, was “everyone else just uses couriers”. I’m not sure who “everyone else” is – but it means that at best the beer gets delivered just inside the doorway of the pub, and often just to the pavement outside. In their relatively small cellar they had a pile of probably 3 pallets worth of empty kegs and casks. This pile consisted of eCasks, KegStar, and brewery containers – the latter will be there for who knows how long? Some had distro labels on from far parts of the country. But the thing is these guys keep using these other services. Which kind of goes to show that whilst grateful for better service this doesn’t often extend to any perceived tangible value. I’m hopeful that things generally come around on that front – once the problems of the whole low-grade hands-off courier approach mount to a breaking point as it has for several of our customers. We don’t send brewery containers far and wide by pallet, we actively discourage pallet shipment and direct folk to whatever we think their best local option is – sending only the odd pallet to the persistent so long as it is just smallpack and OWKs, and always next-day-AM. And we never use couriers.

Presently we operate about 8 routes a week with up to three vans a day – in January 2018 that was 5 routes a week. Vehicles are expensive and we need to try and use them as effectively as possible – come February we plan to expand this to up to 4 vehicles running 11 routes a week with all customers serviced weekly. It’s going to be a real stretch to achieve this, and we hope the increased service provision brings the returns needed to make it work. As part of this we’ve extended our geographic coverage as well – a little reluctantly, but as encouraged by both breweries wanting us to get them to these areas and customers in the areas wanting us to get to them. I’ve been saying no to both for at least a couple of years… but it fits our plans a bit better now so we’re saying hello to new customers in London, Bath, Bristol, Gloucestershire, and Staffordshire – also having added Lincolnshire earlier in the year as the craft-beer battlefront begins to penetrate even through the East Midlands.

Refrigerated Vehicle
Taking coldstorage on the road…
This may all sound “big” to some – but the reality is that we’re one of the smallest beer distributors, including amongst the “craft beer” focused end of the industry. JGB operates hand-to-mouth on available cashflow and scant earnings, so growth is careful and conservative. When we take big steps upwards it is generally after months of consideration – in this case it has been about a year since I started mapping out the wider logistics plan we’re now beginning to execute. With our first 7 tonne GVW refrigerated Iveco van all but sat in the yard…

The goal is to have two 7 tonne vans on the road in 2019 and three normal 3.5 tonne vans. The 7 tonne ones will both be refrigerated for coldchain trunking and backhaul operation, which we’re looking to potentially hook up with some satellite coldstorage locations. I’d like the 3.5 tonne ones to be chilled too – but it’s a difficult viability balance between this and payload. The future may be to move these to smaller van-format HGVs as well.

2019 is when we start to do some proper work to solve the next level of the coldstorage problem: coldstorage in transit.

The original Jolly Yellow Beer Van
In 2019 we’ll say goodbye to the original Jolly Yellow Beer Van after nearly 5 years and over 100,000 miles of service.

 

Coldstorage – How Did We End Up Here?

When I started JGB in April 2014 I did two things before I bought my first beer: 1) bought a van 2) secured coldstorage. Back then the coldstorage was in the form on a mere 20 foot refrigerated shipping container. I did my research, I spoke to brewers – this was clearly the correct place to start out.

I never intended to become some sort of a coldstorage crusader. I started Jolly Good Beer with only one motivation: there wasn’t enough of the beer I loved in my area.

It wasn’t until further down the line that I discovered my approach of coldstoring 100% of beer stock was possibly unique in England and maybe the UK at the time (still not sure of that). Faced with what turned out to be a competitive disadvantage in terms of overheads one could easily have chosen to shut down the reefer, move to a shed, and join the status quo. But to me that seemed wrong – I grew up with my mum often saying: if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. A saying I think was inherited from my grandfather. I try to live by that mantra. So it seemed I needed to become a crusader for coldstorage – ultimately this means for beer quality. And I plugged on – two reefers, three… then our current 1500 ft2 coldstore found on a farm. Now we’re trying to work out how to expand that without breaking the bank…

It is now gratifying nearly five years later to see more people in the industry talking about coldstorage, and breweries perhaps starting to take it more seriously. Albeit always sweeping it carefully under the carpet when it comes to the hard reality that enforcing higher standards on this would leave them with reduced or limited sales. The reality is this is business – product needs to be sold to pay the bills. There is still a long long way to go. We should celebrate the folk taking quality seriously, like The Bottle Shop folks for example (thanks for the mention) who made a serious investment in this and are continuing to work to improve things up and down the supply chain. We especially celebrate those at the retail end of the chain launching with, or adopting, better practice – to name a few: The Stoneworks in Peterborough (my number-1 UK bar), Hereford Beer House, The Hopmaster General in Rushden, Kilder Bar and The Paper Duck in Birmingham, and of course Cloudwater setting the example with their Unit 9 and 73 Enid St bars launched in 2018. Yes, I installed 5 of these – I’m blowing my own trumpet just slightly, but without them being willing to try doing things differently, taking a chance on busting the status quo, none of this could happen. I really should mention Magic Rock here to – for they are the first people I saw talking about direct draw dispense in the UK with their taproom (which I have yet to visit) and they’re also responsible for introducing me to an enduring obsession with Perlick taps. (NY2019 resolution for me: finally visit the Magic Rock taproom!)

For me the end-goal here is “cold chain” – a phrase starting to show up more in UK beer. Too often, IMO, slightly abused – but on the other hand it’s fantastic it is now part of the conversation. It is still a puzzle to me that brewers will spend money keeping beer chilled in the brewery but live with the fact that care ends at their doorway. Some of these guys, even those selling the most sensitive styles of beer, will use 2-day pallet services in summer to save themselves 20 quid (on 3000 quid of beer!). When they’re having clear quality issues at point of sale – yet are reporting 20% net profit… but will not spend a trifle more to reduce the danger their beer faces in transit… the mind boggles. We’re back to commodification of logistics again here. Jolly Good Beer is actively working to solve this particular issue and I hope that 2019 sees us setting up our first 100% coldchain connections for UK beer. It seems mad to me that we receive imports from the likes of Amundsen, Stillwater and Firestone Walker fully coldchain to our coldstore but UK brewers don’t have the will to do it even in summer – if they won’t step up to the plate then we will, and we are doing just that…

The Jolly Good Beer warehouse coldstore.
The Jolly Good Beer warehouse 4°C coldstore.

 

Dispense – I Didn’t Expect To Be Here

We seem to have become “dispense experts” – with folk looking to JGB to set the standard and support improved dispense in the UK. This really did happen by accident and I still struggle with the idea of considering myself an expert on the subject, but here we are. There are many good dispense tech folk out there in the UK doing the best they can – they’re mainly limited by the materials and budgets available. The key issue with UK dispense is that as it is almost always “free” (cost: your soul) it has suffered decades of cost reduction to make it just barely fit for purpose in the context of serving low carbonation sterile filtered British lager. I stepped into this industry 5 years ago with a predominantly cask-ale hat on, but was positioned such that we became one of the conduits for a keg beer revolution amongst microbreweries. And brewers putting beer in keg without really understanding the basics, leading to many problems – which as the distributor became my problem. So by necessity I had to understand how dispense worked – so studied it, learning a lot from US Brewers Association sources and Certified Cicerone® material – then building my own dispense systems to get to grips with the parts and practical functionality. At base it’s all physics – gas and fluid behaviours – and I’m lucky enough to have had a reasonable amount of physics in my education covering this stuff.

Bit by bit I learnt how stuff works – I also did the BFBi NCCSIM qualification, completed in 2017, which was important for its coverage of regulatory and safety factors.

Wind forward nearly 5 years and here we are installing taprooms for folk like Cloudwater and having articles about dispense published in The Brewers Journal. It feels pretty weird, with a heavy dose of impostor-syndrome I must admit.

Ultimately it’s only happened because of that outlook mentioned above: If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. Working with UK dispense equipment I quickly discovered a lot I don’t like about the materials readily available. And I couldn’t find anyone to do work to the standards I was looking for. And 2018 feels like the year this came to a head – with little left to improve beyond marginal tweaks. The final piece in our particular puzzle being buying 10km of high-grade Gen-X beer line. And beyond tweaks here and there I think there’s little left to improve on the work we have done for Cloudwater this year and I hope it contributes to setting a new sort of standard for UK dispense.

So 2018 was a big year for direct-draw dispense for us, with somewhere over 70 direct-draw lines installed for people and the building and deployment of our own direct-draw dispense mobile unit for festivals and events. And in 2019 we expect to do more of the same!

I’d love to combine all this knowledge and experience and open a bar or two … because it’s not like I have enough to occupy my time already, right? Whether or not that happens in 2019, let alone ever, is impossible to predict – but what I’m sure will happen in 2019 is more of the same: we will help more people do it right, we will spread more direct-draw dispense love in the UK.

Cloudwater 73 Enid St Dispense
Cloudwater 73 Enid St Dispense Install

 

So… 2019….

We have some big goals for 2019, and have the team gathering together in Cambridge this week to try and create some sort of roadmap. I laugh as I type this… “roadmap” he says, this shit is getting serious now, innit. Jolly Good Beer is growing up – 5 years old in April this year.

There are difficult challenges ahead – I believe Jolly Good Beer has a bit more of a journey ahead of it before it becomes a sustainable business. It’s not an easy market sector to operate in, with very low margins – there have been some seriously difficult times in 2018, moments where I’ve come close to giving up even. There’s a personal element to business – a personal weakness perhaps – and the difficult times and heavy workloads can grind you down. We have had (and need to have) some tough talks with some breweries sometimes – and make sure we’re all on the same page and working together. It’s a young and chaotic emerging market niche – with a lot of maturing needed, a lot of experience lacking. In 2018 we’ve seen two distribution businesses wound down (gracefully, as much as that is possible), clearly indicting it was the weakest component of the larger mixed businesses they were attached to. We also saw two other mixed retail/wholesale businesses shut down less gracefully – causing brewers to lose money. I hope we don’t see too much more of this, especially the latter cases – brewers are badly exposed to risk in this, where an individual customer can be owing tens of thousands on a monthly basis. Managing credit control and cashflow is vitally important for all of us, a lesson often learnt the hard way.

In 2019 we will keep building on what we have – do more of the same and do it better. Continue working to make the 100% coldchain dream a reality, that’s become a core goal at the heart of the business. Quality, quality, quality! We’re not here to fuck spiders. Quality beer, quality supply chain, quality dispense. It is all about the product at the end of the day – we do this for the beer. And whilst dispense is really a peripheral business function that we don’t intend to focus on, we’ll continue to do what we can in that space as well – it is a key part of the beer quality equation. Attention to detail from the ingredients of the beer all the way through the supply chain and into the mouth of the consumer.

Also in 2019, by popular demand, we’ll have some more Jolly Good Beer hoodies & t-shirts made 😉

As the apparel says: Warm beer is sad beer, cold beer is Jolly Good Beer!

All the best for 2019 folks – may it treat us all well.

Categories
Beer Tech Technology

10,000 metres of beer pipe…

10km of Valpar Gen-X beer line
10,000 metres of beer tube…

Why? Why would I buy 10 kilometres of beer line? Specifically 5km of 5/16 and 5km of 3/8 beer line? That’s one big old pallet of beer line!

Well … it’s simply because 5km is the minimum order size. Simple?

But why not buy smaller amounts from an intermediary?

Because in the UK nobody stocks anything better than bog standard polyethylene beer line, aka “MDP” – “Low cost beer and soft drinks dispense tubing”low cost, “low cost” could be considered the core theme of beer dispense in the UK. Generally “low”… low cost, low quality, lowest common denominator. (Don’t even get me started on the fact that many cask line installs are still using bloody PVC…)

It’s a bit of joke really… (of the depressing variety) pretty much the entire “indy”/microbrewery bar & pub beer scene in the UK is stuck with MDP. The “off the shelf” python and 3/8 tube is all this stuff, and none of the usual suspects for sourcing gear stock better. (You may be able to arrange for better I guess, but nobody does… beer line is just beer line, python is just python, right?)

The punchline to the joke is that big brewers like Heineken know how important consistency of quality is to their sales and accordingly they use Brewmaster II line in their installs.

There you have it… that pint of Heineken in the local probably comes out of a higher spec of dispense system than your pint of Cloudwater at UberTrendy Craft-n-Stuff bar.

Now… I’m personally not one for settling for the status quo. One should always strive to do better, achieve more… improve. So one of many things that came out of my research of craft beer dispense in the US was: hmmm, they have this special fancy barrier tube type beer line, what is it we us in the UK? *research*research*oh, oh my, that’s a bit sad…

So I got in touch with Valpar over in Ireland… Valpar, owned by Micromatic, makes most of the beer line I see in the UK and it turned out they make some pretty good stuff. They key products being Brewmaster II (used by Heineken in the UK) and Gen-X (apparently used by Diageo for Guinness)Where I can buy the good stuff?  Nobody in the UK stocks it. Oh… can I buy it from you direct?  Yeesssss… if you want 5000 metres.

Think about it: there’s a company just over the Irish Sea that manufactures really good beer line that is shipped to countries all over the world and yet in the UK I cannot buy the stuff. My FOB detectors also come from Ireland. I get taps from the US and Italy. I even import gas regulators for top-end jobs… why is the UK so pants when it comes to quality beer equipment?

[Edit: Hey, so the fab folk over at The Malt Miller stock Brewmaster II – which is waaaaay better than MDP (see table below).  So a worthy choice for a dispense install. Order from them here.]

This stuff isn’t madly priced per-metre but given I wanted both 5/16 and 3/8 the cost really adds up over 10km… normal MDP is about 10p per meter, the Gen-X is closer to 40p. So I had to wait about a year before it was possible to take about £4000 ex-VAT out of the business cashflow to invest in a big pallet of beer pipe. The price difference between Gen-X and Brewmaster II was low enough to make Gen-X seem a no-brainer, given the numbers significantly in favour of Gen-X: “The microbial growth tests indicate that the hygienic performance can be 2-3 times at least more effective than current market solutions.

Valpar Gen-X Tube
Valpar Gen-X Tube

A few months ago it showed up and I was a happy dispense guy. Now if I do install work for you, you get Gen-X tube.*

So far we’ve had little chance to really get a feel for how much better Gen-X is than MDP. My couple of data-points so far are:

No more “line stench”? I do a fair bit of mobile bar stuff, and it is generally always the case after just one event that MDP line pumps out an “old beery” smell when you pump air through them at the next event. You can taste it even when you suck through even a short length. I’ve never been happy with this but have never been able to clean out that aroma. The Gen-X? So far this seems to be a thing of the past… after 3 events the keg tails I have used still don’t reek. (That said we are still re-doing all the pipework every 2 or 3 events.)

Sticky flavour beer taint a thing of the past? This seems to be the case. I put 3 kegs of a 10% hazelnut flavoured “pastry beer” type creature through a line… this was in there for 3 days and I then flushed with about 2 litres of water. No flavour or aroma of hazelnut (or anything) in the end of that water. I was pretty surprised by this, having in the past immediately had to (or wanted to) rip out and throw away the line after such a beer even after trying to line-clean TF outta it.

I would still advocate regular changing of beer lines though, even fancy plastic isn’t magic. Only time will tell what the real “craft beer” (unfiltered flavourful tastymank™) shelf-life of Gen-X is.

Technology… it works. Huh, whoda thunk it.

The reason I wrote this today (well, 2 months ago) was I saw a thing on the Twitters. Beer seemingly oxidised after 2 days sat in a line. It got me thinking about gas permeability of beer line… a generally known problem that is mitigated by fast throughput on kegs and weekly line cleaning. “Plastic isn’t magic” is a phrase I use a lot – O2 can get in, the higher the permeability the more likely biofilms will develop is one factor. Also, beer sat in a line will lose CO2 and oxidise. I don’t actually know how fast this will happen in a sense of yielding tangible/tastable flaws, but according to Valpar Micromatic numbers MDP is 80x more O2 permeable than Gen-X. I’m not yet convinced beer line O2 permeability is to blame in the case of the linked tweet… but I definitely have an idea for an experiment I want to run… <watch-this-space>, as they say.

PROTECTING THE FLAVOR OF BEER & WINE: The next step in flavor protection: GEN-X® Tubing
PROTECTING THE FLAVOR OF BEER & WINE: The next step in flavor protection: GEN-X® Tubing From: https://www.micromatic.com/brewmaster-ii/3-8-inch-id-gen-x-tubing-100-feet-spool-550genx1200

* We’re still using MDP for most gas line and waste/outflow lines.

Categories
List eMail

Mailing List: Loads of new beer! CASK pre-orders! Informational VIDEO!

Bumper crop folks! Mega big update timez.

But first, CASK – we have the PRE-ORDER list up still here with Ashover and Three Blind Mice – all stock is subject to brewery availability. The order will be finalised on Monday and we expect to have the sock for delivery from w/c 20th August, so get your cask finger clicking here: http://jollygoodbeer.co.uk/preorder/
Ashover Brewery Beers

VIDEO: I’ve been asked a few times about various dispense tasks and as much as I’d like to visit everyone and demonstrate everything there just isn’t time. So I’m going to try making some basic videos, maybe about one a week if I can. The first is: How to strip down keg couplers for cleaning.

NEW BEERZ

Badges & cans

Against the Grain – our first proper big order from these guys. We have kegs, we have cans, we have some seriously mad bottles. Shipped to our 4°C coldstore cold-chain style. For mega-freshness.

Amundsen – the Chuggernaut cans are back! Shipped to our 4°C coldstore cold-chain style. For mega-freshness.

Beavertown – core restocks plus Sapling IPA (NEIPA type critter) in both keg and can, some Tempus bottles, some more Dame Melba cans too.

Bone Machine – back again, because y’all seem to love it (for good reason) – with two new beers a west coast styled IPA Goin’ Out West and something a bit madder in the form of a mango and black salt gose/sour inspired by Bundobust: Sex, Drugs & Okra Fries!

Cloudwater – the latest gear to arrive, as usual. We have some new style twists from them this week with a couple of Brut IPAs and a rendition of a West CoastPale in keg plus a straight up 4% quaffing pale Summer Pale in can. (And more.)

Left Handed Giant – two fresh new can releases from the Bristol giant plus three keg releases.

Stillwater Artisinal – ridin’ the Against The Grain pallet we have MORE new cans from Stillwater, grab ’em whilst they’re not hot (they’ll never be hot, not from us. Shipped to our 4°C coldstore cold-chain style. For mega-freshness.

Track – finally back on Track. Good old Sonoma in keg, plus an IPA and a Brut IPA… Brut IPA is the flavour of the season. It’s all joooosey…

All this plus plenty of other stock on our website.

cask icon
CASK
keg icon
KEG
can icon
CAN
bottle icon
BOTTLE
bottle icon
GAS

SCHEDULE

Time flies when you’re on the run…

Week commencing Mon 13th August:

  • TUESDAY 14th August
    • ? Milton Keynes / OXFORD / READING
    • ? Northants / Coventry / Warks / BIRMINGHAM
  • WEDNESDAY 15th August
    • Cambridge(shire)
    • ? Herts / Hitchin / St. Albans / Hillingdon / Chilterns / S.Beds
  • THURSDAY 16th August
    • ? Essex / Chelmsford / Colchester / Ipswich / South-Suffolk
    • Kings Lynn Norwich / Norfolk / Lowestoft / North-Suffolk

So, what’s next…

Week commencing Mon 20th August:

  • TUESDAY 21st August
    • ? Derby(shire) / Nottingham / (shire), Leicester / (shire)
    • ? Northants / Coventry / Warks / BIRMINGHAM
  • WEDNESDAY 22nd August
    • CAMBRIDGE(shire)
    • ? Hertfordshire / Hitchin / St. Albans / Chilterns
  • THURSDAY 23rd August
    • ? A1 / Stamford / Linconshire / Lincoln / Retford / Newark
    • Kings Lynn NORWICH / Norfolk / Lowestoft / Nth.Suffolk

 
All the best,
Your beer wrangling servant,
Yvan / Jolly Good Beer

A quick video demonstrating how to strip down a keg coupler for cleaning.
Categories
List eMail

Mailing List: Friday Night Fun ?❄ with Burnt Mill (oooeeerrrr), Dark Revolution (new!), Yeastie Boys (who needs integrity?), and some found Northern Monk

Sending a trade email out on a Friday night? Numbskull…

This was intended to go out hours ago, but as with most days at the moment there were so many things commin’ at me most of my core tasks just kept slippin’ back. It’s lost about half an hour again tonight thanks to things storm related… we had a nice little blackout just now, short thankfully. A lot of lightning out there, and a huge strike in line of sight of the office window just now – seemed to hit just a short distance way in the farm orchard. Made me jump!

We also haven’t quite finished, have a few more bits to put into the system, still so another heads-up will go out Sunday or Monday I expect when we get the other new gear sorted.

Anyway, so… what new goodies are in the coldstore?

  • Burnt Mill – one of the current darlings of UK craft beer, the Burnt Mill folks are honing their brewing and from an excellent start just getting better. We’ve only had the odd bit here and there up to now, but this time we have a range incoming…
    • KEG – first there is their new murky hazy juicy hop critter Galaxy Fog, this is the first in a new serious of beers using the London Fog yeast. (Despite the name it is a yeast used to brew the New England IPA style mainly, I gather the name was chosen due to some UK genetic background the yeast has combined with “fog” being both considered a very London thing by folk overseas* and being suggestive of the stylistic murk of the NEIPA style.) We have more keg arriving Tuesday, so keep eyes peeled on the inbox.
    • CAN – ooooeeerrr… we actually have what we could call a range in cans this time. We have:
      • Green Path (little of) – regular “West Coast” styled IPA
      • Pintle (plenty of) – their juicy hazy everyday quaffer – CANNED YESTERDAY – transported straight from canning to our 4C coldstore – doesn’t get much fresher than that!
      • Tulum (good stock) – a pineapple gose!
      • Layers (good stock) – an imperial stout
  • Yeastie Boys – Stu may lack integrity (industry in-joke), but we still like ‘im and the whole micromachine that is Yeastie Boys (it’s bigger on the outside). A trip to NZ in 2011 did more for me in beer interest than BrewDog did (it was a “next level” sort of experience), and Yeastie Boys were a highlight of that and continue to delight (when you can get the crazy stuff!). It’s no secret I was disappointed when as soon as they finally go the UK Gunnamatta nailed and tasting up there with NZ Gunnamattathat it got put into Tesco (grrrrr! grrrrrr! down with that sort of thing!) … which is the end of that for us really, as we know too few of you want to stock what Tesco stocks. We do continue to stock Inari Biru as a regular line, it’s not in Tesco (I think!) And once we can get the good Gunnamatta stuff in keg format we certainly shall!Yeastie Boys: German Farmhouse (keg badge)But lo! What’s this… things are happening in the UK Yeastie Boys world. This year they have hired the legendary “JK” – a brewer who’s been a key player in the UK “craft” brewing sector over recent years… he’s got Thornbridge pedigree, was head brewer at Buxton when Buxton transitioned from kinda trad to UK craft stalwart, and has most recently done some excellent work honing the brewing at the legendary Marble Brewery.  Now JK is a Yeastie Boy and doing the good stuff overseeing UK production whilst being let loose on collabs and cuckoo brews to bring a creative lineup of Yeastie Boys specials to the UK market.
  • Dark Revolution – new to JGB – so… I must admit I don’t know a lot about these guys. But I consider the Yeastie Boys team choosing them as their cuckoo brewing go-to is about all the endorsement I need really. (I did also ask around of course, check their reviews, the usual… results are good.) Basically since we were getting the Yeastie Boys kegs shipped direct from the brewery and the pallet wasn’t fully loaded we squeezed on as much Dark Revolution as we could.
    • KEG
      • Deviant – Dynamically Hopped Pale Ale
      • Sonic – Small IPA
      • Super Sonic – DDH Pale Ale
      • Supernova – Brut IPA – Citra / Nelson Sauvin
  • Northern Monk – wait.. what’s that? What are they doing there? Oh… dang…
    • KEG – So… a couple of weeks ago when we got the NMBCo x Wylam collaboration TIPA Moobing On Up we actually got a couple of kegs too. And on the same pallet a couple of kegs of DEATH  – now there are only a couple of each of these… typical “first come, first served” – if you can’t see it on the site, it’s goooonnneeee…
      • Moobing On Up – NMBCo x Wylam – Triple Dry Hopped Triple IPA with a MASSIVE 4.331 Untappd score. Oofff…
      • DEATH // Single Origin Burundi Coffee Edition – caffeinated death inna keg…

* No joke, growing up in Australia and watching a fair bit of UK/BBC content in the 80s I generally could have assumed that the UK was mostly just foggy all of the time.

All this plus plenty of other stock on our website.

GAS

GAS!!! WE HAVE THE GAS!!! CO2 that is… back in stock…

Oh, wait, we’ve just run out of 60/40… argh… (if you need I have a tiny number on reserve).

One of the problems we have faced with the gas is that we need a full pallet of empties back before we can get a full pallet of full ones in. So it’s important we recover the empty Air Liquide cylinders from y’all. Please ensure they are good for collection when my guys show up.

From now on we will typically, except by prior arrangement (or new accounts) be providing gas cylinders on a ONE-BACK-ONE-OUT policy. If you want a cylinder, have an empty ready for us to collect please. (For 2 for 2, etc.)

SCHEDULE

Week commencing Mon 30th July:

  • TUESDAY 31st July
    • ? Milton Keynes / OXFORD / READING
    • ? Northants / Coventry / Warks / BIRMINGHAM
  • WEDNESDAY 1st August
    • Cambridge(shire)
    • ? Herts / Hitchin / St. Albans / Hillingdon / Chilterns / S.Beds
  • THURSDAY 2nd August
    • ? Essex / Chelmsford / Colchester / Ipswich / South-Suffolk
    • Kings Lynn Norwich / Norfolk / Lowestoft / North-Suffolk

Week commencing Mon 6th August:

  • TUESDAY 7th August
    • ? Derby(shire) / Nottingham / (shire), Leicester / (shire)
    • ? Northants / Coventry / Warks / BIRMINGHAM
  • WEDNESDAY 8th August
    • CAMBRIDGE(shire)
    • ? Hertfordshire / Hitchin / St. Albans / Chilterns
  • THURSDAY 9th August
    • ? A1 / Stamford / Linconshire / Lincoln / Retford / Newark
    • Kings Lynn NORWICH / Norfolk / Lowestoft / Nth.Suffolk

 

All the best,
Your beer wrangling servant,
Yvan / Jolly Good Beer

FRESH AZ BRO
❄ Jolly Good Beer ❄
Quality-led craft beer distribution with COLD-STORAGE for all of cask, keg, bottle, and can. Doing the best we can for an awesome product we respect.
If you want to keep great beer brewery-fresh it must be kept cold.
Ambient beer is sad beer.

Cold beer is Jolly Good Beer.
❄?❄?❄?❄?❄?❄?❄?❄?❄?❄
Categories
Uncategorized

How a KeyKeg Works – Graphic For Free Use

Kat and myself (Yvan) made this diagramme back in 2015 to explain KeyKeg to folk. It’s first use was when we ran a KeyKeg bar at Stevenage Beer Festival.

It seems to have been quite popular having been ripped off many times now by CAMRA and even a couple of commercial organisations. It’s a little mind-boggling that in this day and age folk don’t understand the concept of copyright.

A good basic rule is: If you do not know you have permission to use (especially publish) a thing… you don’t.

Now this is not a fancy picture, it’s not art, it isn’t revolutionary… but I sketched out the general idea on paper, Kat then made it look less like utter garbage, I scanned it and Kat did a bit of digital tidying before I added some text. There’s actually a few hours work in that. And in the context of a small business that’s important time – even without the business context it’s not exactly nice to have folk just take your stuff without asking. Apparently some CAMRA mob in London even made a big poster of it. Normally if you want to go publish someone’s work you kinda expect to pay them for it… right?

We are actually very happy for people to use the image and derivations thereof  – BUT only with attribution to at least “© Jolly Good Beer“, and when online with a link to this website: http://jollygoodbeer.co.uk/

I will at this point specify that the image can be used under a CC BY-SA 4.0 “Creative Commons” license.  Creative Commons License

If you want any other specific permissions please just contact us.

Now go ahead and use it… you don’t have to ask if you provide the attribution specified and use this specific version of the image below.

You have no permission to use any version of the image we have created other than the one below.

How KeyKegs work. (This image is COPYRIGHT Yvan Seth T/A Jolly Good Beer.)
How KeyKegs work. (This image is COPYRIGHT Yvan Seth T/A Jolly Good Beer.)
Categories
Beer Events Beer Festivals

Willingham Beer & Cider Festival

We’re getting involved in my (Yvan’s) village’s new beer festival. This shall mainly be a fun beer event for Willingham locals – with a great range of drinks available, live music, and a summer BBQ. But we’ll have some special stuff on the draught system too…

Presently looking at, hoping to justify, about 20 different cask ales plus 10 keg beers, and 10 good ciders and one or two keg ciders.

Seems early days yet – but I know 29th June will be upon us in the blink of an eye!

There will be more information on the festival website, so keep an eye on that: willingham.beer

Or on the social medias: @WillinghamBeer or /WillinghamBeer

Categories
Bar Beer Events Meet The Brewer

Moor in Norwich & Peterborough

THIS WEEKEND!!! Moor extravaganzas in Norwich & Peterborough!

mooratplasterersandstoneworks

Do you like Moor beer? You should drink Moor beer. The puns are relentless on a #MoorOnTour

  • Brewery: Moor Beer Company
  • Location: Bristol (formerly middle of pretty much nowhere in Somerset)
  • Owner/Brewer: Justin Hawke … an American showing the UK how to do hops 😉
  • History: Founded in 1996, taken over by Justin & Maryann in 2007: more here
  • Features: One of the first UK micros to leap into being 100% unfinedultra-tasty vegan friendly cask & keg

Moor is one of my own all time favourite brewers and one of the very first I traded with, given they inspired the creation of Jolly Good Beer… people wanted Moor, people couldn’t get Moor… problem solved.

The Plasterers ArmsSaturday – Norwich – The Plasterers Arms

If you’re in the Norwich area come to the awesome Plasterers Arms for all things Moor… this is a mega tap-takeover across cask and keg lines offering a huge variety of the Moor lineup, with some special bombers and some of the can range available to boot! Hoppy: got it; Dark: got it; Brown: got it; Pale: got it; Smokey: got it; Barley Wine: got it; Barrel Aged: got it; You… get it?

The official gig is set to run from 8pm, but we’ll be hangin’ about from a bit earlier.

Check out the event page on FaceBook.

Or @ThePlasterers on Twitter.

Stoneworks TapwallSunday – Peterborough – The Stoneworks Bar

Cambridgeshire’s awesomest new new-wave bar brings you Moor in keg spanning the core to the frankly slightly mental. DIPA, BDIPA, even plain old IPA – then how about hoppy wheat, pale ales, old ales, and a barrel aged barley wine?

The bar opens at midday Sunday… and the finger-in-the-air starting time for shenanigans is 1pm. We’ll have a representative from the brewery, and I’ll be there to drink beer. 😉

Stoneworks are less on top of the FaceBook, but they do have a FaceBook page you can visit.

Or @TheStoneworks on Twitter.

 

Some Moor Badges (no, we don't have ALL these beers:) I wish!
Some Moor Badges (no, we don’t have ALL these beers:) I wish!

 

And should Moor’s awesome beer sound your sort of thing, we supply to trade accounts across East Anglia and the East Midlands. We keep our Moor here: http://jollygoodbeer.co.uk/product-category/breweries/moor/