You may recently have seen on social media and in the local press about our expansion, but until now we haven’t got around to writing a blog about what’s been happening over at Unit 4 Cae Bach in 2018.
The planning all started about 18 months back – in mid-2017 we were very short of cold storage space (we store all our beer cold to keep it fresh) and we took a quick decision to move our office into a temporary portacabin outside the brewery and expand our old 8⁰C cold room into the previous office space. At the same time, we were thinking about increasing our brewing capacity in 2018 and began hatching a plan to allow this to happen. We also had the problem of our office now being in a portacabin with no space for any of our growing team to eat their lunch! To add to that, we quickly realised that our double-sized cold room still wasn’t big enough to support an expansion so we needed to look at expanding that again. Oh, and of course we had to finance the whole project too!
To allow all this to begin, the company directors injected some funds and in November 2017 we began work to start renovating the old mezzanine turning it into an office, laboratory and staff room – amazingly Dave’s dad did all of this work almost single handedly over a 5-month period. In late 2017 and early 2018 we were also working with the Welsh Government Food Division to obtain a grant as well as the Development Bank of Wales to secure a loan to allow us to double our fermentation capacity, replace our old, inefficient liquor tanks, expand the brewing floor and build a new larger and colder cold room.
Work began down in the brewery a year ago when the sloped resin floor was extended to accommodate new tanks followed by the installation of a new 600 square foot refrigerated 3⁰C cold room – this saw us knocking through into unit 3, which we now share with our neighbours, North Wales Jaguar Centre. The new cold room was complete by February and was a very exciting addition for us as a brewery – it means we can now store our beer and our hops colder than we could previously ensuring that hops are kept fresh and that our beer is super fresh when it leaves the brewery. The new cold room also includes a ‘direct draw’ cellar system for our tasting room / brewery shop which means beer comes straight from the keg to the tap, without the need for a flash chiller – as far as we know this is one of only two systems like this in North Wales (the other is at Stori Beers in Bala).
In May, our grant approval was received and with a loan from the Development Bank of Wales already in place as well as additional director investment, we put an order in for two 1600L fermentation tanks, two 3200L fermentation tanks and two new 5500L liquor tanks. This equipment was manufactured in Europe and was supplied and installed by ABUK – these guys also supplied and installed our existing brewery. The tank installation took place during the first week of December and took our capital spend in the brewery to around £134,000.
After the many months of planning, we’re incredibly excited to see this expansion complete. We’ve struggled to keep all of our core and seasonal beers available over the last four or five months so the additional capacity is very welcome. We’re also looking forward to the return of special releases in the new year, which we’ve not had capacity to brew since May.
After what seems to be a busy start to Christmas Eve for craft beer and produce shoppers on Cae Bach, we’re now looking forward to some well-earned time with our families over the Christmas period. We’ll be back later in the week to open our brewery shop and are very excited about what 2019 has in store.
Check out our time-lapse video with soundtrack from The Storyville Mob: