FatBelly Brewery 2020

We are nearing the end of a very testing year for all of us, It seems a little selfish even talking about business or beer with the awful year so many have had, losing friends and family, but we have to look forward because there simply is no other way.

With all things considered, I have to say that our team have remained positive and really played a part in keeping things rolling so a massive thanks to all of them, you have made a difference to communities and contributed to keeping our business above the water, legends

Lets focus on the brewery, So the intention in 2020 was to increase sales dramatically, during 2019 the purchase of new equipment would give us an enormous (For Us) fermenting or conditioning space of 120HL, We hoped to use this at full capacity which would enable us to supply many outlets around North Devon, however Mother Nature had other plans which would mean enjoying additional capacity would just become a dream as wet trade sadly dried up for much of the year, For somebody who worships traditional pubs for all the qualities they enhance our lives with, seeing them as they are today and have been for much of the year is almost to much to bare, The magic of seeing local people surrounding a bar in true British tradition is something to defiantly look forward to for next year.

A brief busy spell during the middle of the year was enormously helpful, We stuck to brewing sensible amounts of our classic beers, Because to overstretch would mean facing our Demons encountered in the first lockdown of simply pouring what would end up being a serious amount of beer down the drain, not just because the market was low, also because we just could not find packaging available to ship beer in, when before could we even consider buying pallets of 2l Milk bottles to ship beer in?

From a little after the Summer rush to this day I consider to be one of the best periods for FatBelly Brewery since opening, We have been busy but also in refining our process and learning more about our Wonderfull trade.

In addition to our traditional fermentation tanks which are found in all ale breweries we also have 3 x 20HL Conical Uni tanks, these were purchased from what was Bude Brewery to use during the production of Coast Lager, they give greater control enabling us to brew any beer we choose, full of technical challenges but for us a dream to have, By far the largest pro would be the ability to safely evacuate oxygen and close the tanks, this gives you huge options for packaging product, We naturally lightly carbonate our Traditional ales within the vessels using they're own yeast and clear the beer here also without using chemicals or fish finings, what's not to love, less is more.

Selection of Vessels

Taking the above into consideration our beers are now brewery conditioned, making them a little easier to manage for the pub landlord.

There are so many options and different ways to run a brewery, with more time than usual on our hands this year we stopped for reflection, We want to be a brewer of many great beers, whilst Coast lager will continue to grow from strength to strength it is also extremely important to us that our traditional beers and the culture that surrounds them is protected so we will continue to do so, Cask is a very quiet section of the brewery pie at this time but as soon as it is back FatBelly brewery will be ready, offering well conditioned beers to our customers.

Something we are rather proud of is that all our beers are packaged at the Brewery, It can be cheaper and easier to outsource this but for environmental reasons amongst others we like to do it ourselves, Microbreweries are quite proudly inefficient, Small scale brewing is a peoples industry.

Packaging has been a big deal for us this year, so much so that I want to address it as its own blog and I am desperate to hear your views on it.

It was rather exciting to take delivery of our Hop rocket this year and what a lovely piece of engineering is is by hoplex, capable of delivering a 50kg hop bomb into Hazy IPAs or a NEIPA, We first used it on Juicy Janner, another technique for the inner beer geek. Our true hop project will begin in 2021 which should be a lot of fun.

By far the biggest highlight of our year has been the last quarter, Web sales increased dramatically with the introduction of cans which was a really welcomed bonus and in truth much needed, Also it was amazing to meet so many new North Devon people who love local beers after our Friday delivery began, I really feel that this year especially you knew how important it was to protect your local businesses and without question stepped up for us, thank you so much it was lovely to meet you and enjoy the beers, there will be plenty more in 2021.

All in all 2020 has been bitter sweet, We can't wait to meet more people in 2021, Happy new year

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