Crowdcube Campaign Launch

After literally months of hard work during which I moved the entire brewery down to Manchester, and my Partner having a baby (he’s 7 weeks now, very cute!) I’m now launching something today (1st June) which is honestly terrifying: crowdfunding. If it doesn’t scare you, you’re not dreaming big enough.

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I’m about to lay out my entire business for people to criticise in the hope that I can prove the following:

  1. My brewery is fresh, innovative and experimental.
  2. That financially I’m sound, with a good business plan and bright future.
  3. That to invest in me isn’t just a monetary contribution but a vote of confidence in a young brewer & entrepreneur.
  4. Above all else, that I truly and deeply care about what I do.

I didn’t approach a bank looking for a loan, Crowdcube has been my first port of call. This is because I honestly believe that a brewery is stronger when owned by its fans and customers than a brewery in a banker’s pocket. It’ll allow us total artistic freedom, free of all restraints and any grumblings from our business manager.

So why Crowdcube? They are Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regulated and require very strict levels of proof. Any claim I made – however small – I had to prove, and this often required a level of independent evidence greater than that demanded of my research thesis when I was back at university. This hopefully gives you a level of trust in me that other sites can’t offer. Interesting to note that a very large percentage (>90%) of businesses that approach Crowdcube don’t actually get onto the site.

So What are you guys investing in?

  1. A bigger brewery. A 10BBL (~1600L) kit – Standard.
  2. A bar. For events, parties, bar billiards tournaments and good ol’ knees ups – Interesting.
  3. Another brewer. Getting some help is vital for the quality of the beer – Fair enough.
  4.  The BrewSpace. Wait, what?

The BrewSpace is something I touched on in previous blogs. Think of lots of little kits, perfect miniatures of what the pros use. May sound similar to UBREW and you’d be correct but I plan to do things differently. There will still be subscriptions, experiences and courses but the kit on offer will be vast and varied.

There’ll be these beauties pictured below (or something very similar). With full pressure and temperature control.  I’m also a dab hand at engineering, and I’ve made lots of little bits of kit that you can’t really buy. Such like a pressurised device that blows hops into pressurised containers and a glycol chiller circuit out of bits from B&Q. A unique and immersive brewing experience with ALL THE BREWING TOYS. 

SS Chronical Fermenter with digital temperature control.

What Does Your Investment Get?

For as little as £10 you can invest in me. This gets you the following:

  1. Equity. You own part of the brewery and therefore get a cut of the profits. You can then sell on your shares for a bigger price later. This may be done privately, via a second round of funding or if I buy it back directly. Invest >£2000 and you get voting rights.
  2. Perks. Visit my pitch on Crowdcube for a full list of perks. This is minimal tat and maximum awesome. From helping to brew an investors beer to shamelessly naming stuff in your honour – we’ve got it all.
  3. Party Invite. Everyone who invests gets to come to a funded party and the AGM every year.
  4. Warm Fuzzy Feeling. You’re not just investing in a company, but in a person. Your money isn’t supporting the large wage of someone in higher management but going to a young guy with a young family. It’s a vote of confidence in his dream of brewing and sharing good beer.

If you’re interested, click the link above or below. A copy of my business plan and finances are available upon request. Additionally, come along to the launch event at the Brewery!

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Finally, and very importantly – Your Capital Is At Risk #InvestAware

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Beer not Bullshit.

I’ve had to put a few things on hold recently. All due to the birth of my first child. I’ve already got him a miniature mash paddle – an important symbol of office. This has meant however that some major plans have had to take a back seat, which I feel need to be shared, get you guys excited… OR at the very least, mildly interested? I’ll talk about our imminent crowd funding round with crowdcube, the bigger kit, our brewery tap and the BrewSpace. PLUS a small existential monologue on how I just want to brew good beer.

Firstly: our imminent crowd funding campaign with crowdcube. We’re doing this as we honestly and purely believe that a brewery owned by its fans, customers and local residents is much stronger than a brewery in a banker’s pocket. We can brew free, follow our artistic sense and not have to worry about angering/disappointing a bank manager. Having absolute creative control is key – We just want to brew good beer. We’re shooting the video for it very early May and it’ll go live soon after. There are some pretty fun perks along with the equity on offer, but we’ll keep them under wraps for now!

We’re crowd funding mainly for a bigger brewery. We want to size up to a 10 BBL (2880 pints) with a few good bells and whistles attached. The plan is to continue developing our core range while also going batshit crazy experimental.

KEG – Yes.
Bottles – Yes.
Wooden Cask – Hell Yes.
Metal Casks – nae plans…

Manchester has a proud home-brewing scene with great (and globally award winning) beer being made in small flats, cold garages and basically anywhere where there is someone determined enough. We’ve been there. We want to support this as much as possible.

We are not just building a brewery then, but also the ‘BrewSpace’ – first mentioned back in a blog in February. BrewSpace will be a community of amateur brewers, who may want to up their game, have access to advanced kit or just chill out with other brewers and brew some beer.

We plan to construct several 30L & 60L stainless steel kits on which anyone can brew professional quality beer with the optional help of a brewer.  They will have full temperature and pressure control from the fermenter onwards. Think conical fermenters, glycol chiller circuits, whirlpools, and our own designed hop torpedo for blasting hops into pressurised containers. ALL THE TOYS! Subscriptions or one-offs available.

We started ourselves as home brewers. We engineered our own kit, written blogs showing and telling you how to start your own brewery in your own house. We just want to get people interested in beer and having the BrewSpace will really help make that happen.

We’ll have some healthy competition too. Today UBREW announced they are becoming a neighbour, 16 archways down the road (I’d like to take a moment to say BAGSY to the terms ‘Arch Rivals’ and ‘Arch Enemies’). Last month I met up with their spin-doctor extraordinaire Andy and showed him round, genuinely lovely guy, didn’t realise they’d be moving up so soon though; particularly so close to me, just before I start crowd funding for a similar idea, and after I turned down their offer for a ‘partnership’… I look forward to cultivating a friendly yet fierce rivalry with them however. Hopefully this’ll be a catalyst for some really good brews – and that is what it should only be about.

Finally is our Brewery Tap. Soon to be built, so you guys can come drink in a pretty empty brewery filled with Heath Robinson contraptions before the big kit arrives. A Bar Billiards table is happening so you better bring your A game.

Essentially we just want to brew good beer devoid of any hype, get people excited about beer devoid of any marketing tricks and exist in a place where there are no big beer character arcs or sensationalism. Beer presented simply. Beer without the bullshit. And it’s becoming harder and harder to find.

 

 

 

 

How To Build Your Own Brewery: Part 1, The Brewing Space

This was initially going to be one monster blog, but it’s turned into several thousand words so to avoid ‘TLDR’ in the comments below I’ve split it up into several parts. I wrote another blog a few months ago about how to license a microbrewery, so combine both and you might just be able to quit your day job. Once it’s all set up the entire thing should cost you under £5,000 and be able to bring in £20,000-£30,000 a year turn over.

https://carbonsmith.co.uk/2015/10/09/how-to-start-your-own-fully-licensed-bedroom-brewery/

In this part I’m going to give the plans on how you can spend under £500 to turn a shed into the perfect brewing space that someone from The Environmental Health Organisation will be happy for you to use. The next few parts will then give forensic detail into how to build the actual kit from scratch.

First of all you need space, but not much, we were inside a 8’x16′  shed. If you’re lucky you might be in a garage that already has insulation, water, and power. If so you can probably just skip this part and get straight to the actual kit. However, beginning with a literal empty shell allowed us to really customise what the inside had in it.  I think it’s important to show how we built the actual brewery for the kit to go into.

This is where things start to look hard very quickly – but it really is not. B&Q and IKEA sold 99% of everything we used. YouTube is also your friend here; there are sooooo many videos showing you how to do things. If you want to do this cheaply, DIY is an absolute must.

The Brewery itself consisted of 4 main parts:

  1. Water Source.
  2. Electrical Source
  3. Insulation, plasterboard, shelving and storage.
  4. Drainage and ventilation.

1. Water Source
To brew you will need a water source. We had to dig a ditch and put a small water pipe in ourselves. (Some of these pictures will just have my dad doing work, this is not because I am lazy and didn’t help but because I had to stop to take the photo, honest.)

Putting in the water was actually fairly simple, if not labour intensive from digging the ditch. We used 20mm MDPE piping, and joined it onto the mains water inside using a pipe tapping kit.Then drilled an identical sized hole into the bottom corner of the shed and fed it in. Plan where you want your taps. Initially we just had one cold water tap above a bath. We drilled a few more holes through the joists and ran 15mm polypipe up to the point where the tap was going to be.

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2.Electrical Source
This is much harder to put in. If you do it wrong it can result in all sorts of nasty bad things. For us, there was already a security light outside with a fairly chunky 40A cable connecting it to the main fusebox inside. We drilled a small hole into the back of the shed and poked the wire through. We then put on a small fuse box. Luckily my dad is skilled and could do it but if you aren’t 100% sure on what you’re doing get an electrician in – one of the few things that isn’t worth trying yourself. We had two RCD fuses, one for the ring main and one for the lights, so if we pull too much juice while brewing and it trips an RCD we won’t be flung into darkness too.

To put in a ring-main we drilled a hole through all the joists and ran a loop of 23A Twin & Earth cable around the shed. This is where you want to decide where to put the sockets. We decided to put all ours up high, around eye level (You’ll see exactly in later pictures), so if you look in the second picture everywhere we want to put a socket we’ve put a big twist of cable so we have ample to play with once we put the walls up.

The Lights were the cheapest strip lighting we could get in IKEA, joined up in parallel and hung from the central roof joist. 3 of them fitted exactly along the centre – happy days!
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3. Insulation, plasterboard, shelving and storage
This was the most time consuming bit, but ultimately the most worthwhile. You can get a really cool looking professional brew space with a fair amount of effort.

First thing to do once the major electrics are in is to insulate the place. A shed without insulation is bloody cold and being heat efficient reduces bills. We just got the cheapest stuff we could find in B&Q that was on offer. A little trick to cutting it to the right width is to saw off what you don’t need while it’s still rolled up – saves hours mucking about with the stuff. To keep it in place we used string and a staple gun, even effective on the ceiling. Cutting a slit for the wire to go through saves rummaging through it later.

Next, the plasterboard. Get a friend involved or you’ll probably expand your repertoire of vulgarities. We got B&Q to deliver enough sheets to go all around the room and do the ceiling. Sounds obvious, but cut it to widths to fit exactly between joists so you can screw it down properly. Use plasterboard screws, and once it’s all up use Polyfiller to fill in all the tiny gaps and cover the screws. We painted it a couple of times with standard white paint afterwards to get that perfect lab-effect white box.

We also (obviously) had to take down the lights while doing the ceiling before putting them back up, just saying now before I get it as a question. Second picture shows the walls after painting/polyfilling but before we polyfilled the ceiling, all sockets are put in place by using a Stanley knife to cut level holes to which we put drywall electrical boxes in. Wiring up a plug is fairly simple – to YouTube! Also carefully mark where the tap is going to be and try to cut out a 15mm diameter hole that lines up with where you left it.

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The walls are up, you have lighting and a good amount of sockets all where you want them, but it’s still an empty shell. Brewing on the floor is silly so next you’ll need all the shelving and units to make the best possible use of your space.

Go to your local IKEA, they usually have cupboard carcasses in the bargain corner for a fiver. We got three, plus a cheap heat-resistant work top. For the side shelving it was 12mm plywood with lots of CLS to act as joists. The lower shelf we raised up by 8cm so we could get easy access to the taps of any fermenters and so we could also have the floor as a wet area that we could just spill anything onto without worrying. We then used a water resistant and wood-sealing paint for any exposed timber If you’re very clever you can design in a tiny gradient onto the shelving that means any liquid spilt onto it wants to drain forwards onto the floor.

You may notice a bathtub in the following picture. We originally plumbed in a bath to act as an area to sterilise and rinse equipment but removed it after a few months to put in the tanks (as shown later)

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Tiling hides a multitude of sins, makes wiping down your brewery easy, especially easy if using a pressure washer. However it is death by a thousand cuts. Choose life and buy or rent a tile cutting machine. Would also heavily recommend buying a wall-tile and grouting trowel. We went for the cheapest possible white tiles and grouting but if you spend a couple more pence per tile you can get a really funky looking brewery.

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4. Plumbing and Ventilation
I will divulge more about the plumbing set up once I get onto the installation of the big tanks as diagrams will be needed. Initially we just needed a hot and cold water source, so had a single tap installed above the bath which had a hose connected that could reach the Hot Liquor Tank (HLT). All plumbing that couldn’t been seen was 15mm plastic polypipe with JohnGuest fittings. Anything that was visible was 15mm copper with solder ring fittings, as it looks so very shiny. Plastic pipe is amazingly easy to install, just cut then push together. Copper piping is much more labour intensive and you will probably burn yourself picking up hot bits of pipe forgetting you’ve just heated it to +1000C. Four bits of advice for copper piping:

  1. Use a chunky (and quite expensive) pipe cutter that has the cutting wheel as the moving part. We went through so many cheap ones.
  2. Use three times as much flux on the joints than you think is necessary. Yet again, YouTube provides fantastic videos on how to solder pipe together.
  3. Buy a heatproof soldering mat so you don’t set alight the shed like we nearly did.
  4. Use extra solder even on the solder-ring fittings. No fun fixing leaks behind sealed walls.

Drainage is very important, particularly to an Environmental Health Officer. He doesn’t want nasty chemicals draining to somewhere they shouldn’t be going. We luckily had the roof guttering drain into the main sewer. We ran the drainage of the bath down the side and out the bottom where we came up with an ingenious solution to connecting it to the rain-water waste pipe. Just get a hole-cutting drill bit and go in at the same angle the pipe is then silicon it in.

Next to the drain pipe you’ll notice the flu for the boiler. In the middle cupboard we installed a shower extractor fan. When boiling the beer we shut it in the cupboard and had the fan blow out all the steam. Stopped the brewery getting damp. Just make sure you line the inside of the cupboard with a heat and moisture resistant layer.

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If you get all this done you’ll end up with a beautiful brewery that looks something like this. Like I said, the bath does come out and we put tanks there later on. That will be part 2 – Full detailed diagrams of the pro-level kit, with all the plumbing/wiring diagrams you could hope for.

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Would You Support Us If We Crowd Funded?

Every brewery needs capital investment to get the bigger kit. We could go to the bank but we’d prefer to offer our fans the chance to own us first. Crowd funding is still relatively new and still an alternative finance solution but we feel it really fits the ethos of what we’re trying to achieve.

Of course we’d go for a bigger kit with funding, but it’s not just that. Talking about beer is something I love doing. If I’m not talking it  I’m probably thinking about it. I would love to set up a community of like minded people to keep me company, so that’s why if we get the big kit I’m keeping the small one –  then buying several more.

Along with a 10BBL we’d also have the ‘BrewSpace’ – a bespoke area filled with small kits, all stainless steel with pressure and temperature control for amateur brewers to rent time on. Like the gym, but less erm… gymming and more brewing. Somewhere you can come and spend free time, hang out and immerse yourself in beer. Brew on a kit that is a tiny version of what the pros brew on with the pros themselves there to help. One-off brews and classes for beginners are also well up there in priority. Whatever it takes really to get people talking about beer.

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For the homebrew geeks: HERMS double walled mash tun with PID temperature control. Hot, Cold, and Steriliser on the taps above.

Along side the BrewSpace would be a brewery tap with 8 lines and a bottle fridge so we can open on weekends and for special events. You may also spot a Bar Billiards table poked away in a corner, basically hipster pool but needs an eighth of the space.

That is the dream. A living breathing community of beery folk. The only problem is the capital. If I were to crowd fund would people be interested? It’d be great to hear your thoughts, opinions, and any ideas for other things I could change or add to this.

 

 

 

Rebrand & Refresh

We loved our old branding, we really did. It was crisp, clean and looked professional… but we’ve changed. It’s not you, it’s us.

We’ve got bigger, bolder, learnt our craft some more. We need that to be reflected in our face to the public.

When BrewDog rebranded they said, and I quote, “…stripping the design process back to basics. By going to one of the UK’s few remaining letterpress studios to hand-print our designs using 100 year-old metal and wood letter blocks. By moving to a thick, uncoated paper and by applying layers of ink with as much personality and character as the beer inside the bottle. ”

This acted as inspiration; we had to go back to basics too. Address this with as much integrity, innovation and aspiration that we put into the entire brewing process.

We approached an award winning and recent University of Edinburgh graduate Megan Duncan to try and get our ideas onto paper.

What she came up with was beyond what we could possibly have hoped for. Her hand drawn ink artwork is progressive, eye-catching and just achingly beautiful.

To see more of her work head over to http://www.meganduncan.co.uk/

(A couple of these beers have working names and may change)

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Expansion Plans, and an apology to Scotland.

Today I signed the lease for a large railway archway (a hipster brewer’s dream come true!), with very imminent plans for expansion to a larger kit. Not bad considering I was based in a 4th floor tenement flat under 2 years ago. However the biggest change here is not so much the up-size, but more the location.

After weighing up the pros and cons, Carbon Smith Brewing will, by mid December, be based on the Piccadilly Beer Mile in Manchester. This has been a substantially difficult decision, and I’ll try my best to explain why.

Firstly is the general market. The strangle hold pub-cos have on the capital is staggering. They rob the brewery of their margin, then rob the landlords of theirs. For breweries to compete in this market they have to brew cheaper beers with fewer ingredients to make them more attractive to the tied pubs – Not something I’m going to do any time soon. Additionally, truly free houses are very limited and even then un-tied keg lines are in short supply. We experimented with cask but just weren’t satisfied that the beer would reach the consumer in the same quality that it left the brewery in. Not a rash decision either, just look at BrewDog or Buxton – barely a cask insight. This is a Scotland wide problem, not just Edinburgh.

Secondly is where Edinburgh happens to be on a map. For a population of ~500K it isn’t half in the middle of nowhere. Although I’d normally praise this as a resident, for a business it is not good at all. The next largest population centres of significance are Glasgow and Newcastle. Very hard to break into when it’s just two guys and a large black dog. Manchester is central, has a huge population, situated nicely on major motorways and has arguably as good a beer scene as London.

Thirdly, and most importantly is family. My fiancé found out recently that she is expecting. After having done a lot of soul searching we thought it best that we move closer to her family down near Manchester to give the wee one the best start in life possible.

So apologies to Scotland, I’ll be very sad to leave you especially after the great start you gave my business.

…but it isn’t all doom and gloom. My dad is still going to distribute in Edinburgh, and bottles will be happening very soon. We were born as a Scottish brewery and we like to think that we always will be.

P.S. A big hello to my new neighbours Cave Direct, Piccadilly Tap, Track Brew Co, Alphabet Brew Co, Chorlton Brew Co, Squawk Brew Co and Beer Nouveau. I’ll be seeing you all very soon.

How To Start Your Own Fully Licensed Bedroom Brewery

According to a few people, like Rich at the BeerCast, (http://thebeercast.com/2014/04/carbon-smith-brewing.html)
what I started in my bedroom is “game changing” and a little bit exciting. I would go with ‘necessary’ and ‘all-that-I-could-afford’ but I take the compliment all the same! This had got me thinking though, wouldn’t it be great if this started a wave of tiny micro-breweries (pico-breweries?). They wouldn’t be in it for the money, so would be purely driven by the quality of the beer. Beer for the people BY the people – a wee bit more punk than BrewDog was perhaps?

Starting your own ‘game changing’ brewery in a bedroom, kitchen, garage or shed is surprisingly easy. There is minimal paper work, only a few hoops to jump through and most importantly – It’s entirely free.

There are two main bodies you need to contact, HMRC for Duty purposes and your local Environmental Health Organisation (EHO). HMRC is the easy one, the EHO are a little bit trickier but you can still get all the work done in a few hours. The entire process took me 4 weeks.

PART ONE: HMRC.

The entire beery duty code is online:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/excise-notice-226-beer-duty/

Everything you need to know about your obligations as a small brewery is in this. I would heavily recommend reading through all of it as there are some things you will need to do – for example calculating %ABV with an approved equation and using a hydrometer that is duty-approved.

What’s important here for starting up is Section 3.3, 4 and 33.

Section 33 is the form you need to fill in. If you are just brewing and packaging at your brewery you can tick A & B on part 11, and tick No on part 12 and 13. You can entirely ignore 14-17. You also now have to think entirely in Hectolitres which is 100 Litres. Roughly 176 pints.

The other thing HMRC need is a plan of where you intend to brew and what areas inside that building will be used for brewing. This can be as simple as a neat floor-plan of your house with ‘BREWING HAPPENS HERE’ in big red letters in the intended room (Word of caution however, a HMRC officer can now just walk into the rooms you list without warrant if they believe you are doing dodgy things).

This is the actual plan I sent them:

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Send all this off to the address on the duty code and you should hear back from them within a couple of weeks. They will probably say yes, as their only concern is duty and not the health and safety, that comes under the watchful eye of your local EHO.

PART TWO: EHO

This is much trickier to apply to as it varies between you local EHO office. It is against the law not to register with your local EHO if you are starting a food business and can result in nasty penalties. They will visit where you intend to brew and will be highly critical of it but if you follow what they say and can show them that enough precautions are being taken they just might sign you off.

Firstly you have to register with them. If you go to:
https://www.gov.uk/browse/business/licences
You can click on ‘Food Premises Approval’ for which UK country you’re in, then enter your postcode to find out exactly what you need to do.

For Edinburgh it was just a simple form with no hard questions. Just name, address etc. EHO will be quite quick with your application and will arrange an inspection.

To prepare for this I would heavily recommend:
Completing an online Level 2 food hygiene certificate – Costs £15ish and can be done very quickly in under an hour.
Writing a detailed HACCP plan – Can be done on excel, took me only a couple of hours.
Show them adequate cleaning systems you use, have it in writing on the wall.
Adequate hand wash facilities.

These things may not be ultimately necessary but the EHO inspector will want to see initiative. After the visit they may sign you off, or you will get a list of things you need to do so they can sign you off when they reinspect. Listen to the EHO officer’s advice and comply with everything they say. It ensures public safety, and the higher the hygiene the higher the quality of the beer – It really is in your interest to be as hygienic as you possibly can. You never know, you might spot your EHO officer down the pub drinking your beer.

Additionally you are obligated to have a waste contract being a business. The levels of waste you’ll be producing will probably be no greater than an avid home brewer so this may seem a bit over-kill. However, it is only enforced by an EHO warden and not the inspector so you can probably get away with it, particularly if you’re in a residential area. If you are re-using it for feeding chickens or composting and you keep a record of how much you throw away, you may be able to successfully argue your case. However, as a MASSIVE DISCLAIMER, I would recommend against it – You can get waste contracts for as little as £5 a week.

If this all goes to plan you can be operating in a couple of weeks. It is also weird that through all of this no one actually cares if you can brew or not.

Any questions just comment or email me.