I cannot believe we are here. Since the idea first infected each of our minds, Out of Town Brewing has seeped into every aspect of our lives. It's taken us many months of planning to get to now. Finally, we can sell some bloody beer. It hasn't been an easy road.
We've been tripped up a fair few times. Our lack of appreciation of the intricacies of VAT. Our underestimation of bureaucracy in various council and government departments - and we've dealt with them all. The council. Then duty. Then the AWRS. Then environmental health. Then trading standards. It's inspection after inspection. Fire safety keep popping by, but we keep missing them.
Our launch was planned for early September. We were going to hit the Glasgow brewing scene with two new beers - our India Pale Ale and our Glasgow Porter. With a week to go, our Porter was tasting awesome. It had every roasted, caramelly flavour we were after, and its intense carbonation gave it the presence and mouthfeel of a much stronger beer. Our IPA, however, had only just been bottled. We were tasting it every day and, though young, we could tell it had some issues.
Supposed to be our flagship beer - an IPA to end all IPAs - it wasn't good enough. And of course, we properly freaked out. We thought the most likely explanation was an infection with Brettanomyces - it was way too fizzy, too cloudy and had loads of yeasty, fruity esters. Following many more bottles, much deliberation and frantic microscopic analysis, we found this wasn't the case.
It was the cumulation of issues. We had problems during that particularly protracted brew day (our hop basket broke mid-boil), as well as with our yeast (we didn't know exactly how much we added), during fermentation (Owen blocked off the cooling circuit) and then at bottling (we added too much sugar). This resulted in a "B minus" beer - good, but overly bitter and far too fizzy, with too much estery yeast character and nowhere near enough hoppiness.
And so we cancelled the launch. We needed time to make sure our Porter was not going the same way, and we made the decision we always said we'd make about a frustratingly not-quite-good-enough beer. We dumped it. One by one, we poured all 1200 bottles down the sink, and scrubbed the bottles clean to be re-used. The beer duty return that month was predictably cruel - "Nil return."
Dumping this beer was hard, but it was worth it. It was proof that the transition from home brewing to commercial brewing isn't completely smooth. And it is proof, to you and to us, that we will uphold our values and only release beer that we feel is as good as we can produce. We are poor as a result, but hopefully our black bottles and plain labels can garner the reputation we're after.
We have, of course, refined our system and since brewed two new beers with great success - our Telford Road Extra Pale Ale and our Keller Steam. These are tasting as we'd hoped and dreamed, and we can't wait for you to try them with us. You'll find them, next to the Glasgow Porter, from 7pm on Thursday (24th) at the Hippo Taproom, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow.
See you there!