VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 17 PROGRESS

After 17 weeks we are finally there. All our vessels have now been moved from Lymington to our new site at Hardley and the brewery is fully up and running at last. The past 17 weeks have flown by and it has been amazing that everything has gone to plan! This will be the last expansion blog I do as at this point we have achieved everything we needed to do and on time. Yeah, there is ton of tidying up to do at our new site and we still need to move the coldroom from Lymington to Hardley but these are just details and no doubt there will be a bunch of other jobs and improvements we make in the coming months. The main thing is we are once again brewing beer and brewing it in a a lovely new environment!

It has been quite some Journey from the point where I picked up the keys at our old site in Lymington on 31 October 2013 to now. We achieved great things in such a small space for five and half years and I could never have imagined that when I was brewing in my garage at home in June 2013 that fast forwarding 6 years I would be the proud owner of a fantastic brewery that has achieved so much! We are now selling beer all around the world, maintained the high quality product people expect from us and seem to have survived the expansion and moving of the business to a new site. Things are looking good in an extremely tough industry.

Even though I would consider our move is just about complete now, there is plenty more we want to do at our new site to improve things. We don’t have any budget to do these things right now but when we do, these developments are likely to be documented in future blog posts and on social media

Here are a bunch of photos that pretty much tell the story of our move and expansion from Lymington to Hardley.

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Units 1 to 6 nearing construction completion during the summer of 2018

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The 4 new units we acquired were just empty shells. They did not even have electric meters

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Unit 3 - work starts on offices and toilets

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The first of two mezzanine floors

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Unit 6 - The brewery room

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A lovely new brewery floor

The first vessels arrive

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The taproom in unit 3 is nearing completion

All vessels are in and we are brewing!

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Taproom launch day is epic!

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What a happy bunch!

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Before the thirsty crowds…

Cheers!

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 16 PROGRESS

Wow! Wow! Wow! Yesterday was simply epic! This week’s news is no doubt based around the glorious opening of our new taproom…..

Yesterday was one of the best days ever for me. No question about it. The turn out and vibe for the opening of our new taproom was overwhelming! I want to say a massive thank you to all of you who came down and enjoyed our brews in the glorious Waterside sunshine. I would also like to thanks Brian our taproom manager and our two fantastic volunteers - Richard and Daryl, who worked so hard all day long. I could not have imagined so many jolly folk would turn up. When I ordered 15 tables and benches I assumed we would only really need them for major events as we already have a lots of tables and stools within the taproom. I was wrong it seems

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I was brewing Summerlands yesterday in to one of our new tanks and at about 12:30pm (30 minutes after we opened) I noticed a large handful of people sat outside supping on Vibrant beer. Cool - keen early folk I thought (David and Tom are you reading?!). Then, around 1:30pm when I was finishing up brewing I poked my head outside the brewery door and suddenly witnessed what I can only describe loosely as fantastic taproom busyness! Every bench outside was occupied by lovely keen customers and upon entering the taproom itself I witnessed more of the same. Happy people were queuing at the bar waiting to try our beer and congratulating the team on our lovely new space. This was simply epic and it felt just like one of our Brockenhurst beer festivals but at our own dedicated site.

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Front right - Tom and David. Keen Vibrant followers….

A few hours before opening

The beer was pouring really well on our new bar setup (far better than it ever did at our old site) and popular beers such as Pupa and Stonesap were rinsed! Our can fridge was pretty much demolished as well. Some of you I got to chat to and show you around and I can only apologise for not getting chance to catch up with everybody. It was a rather busy day for all and there will be plenty other opportunities no doubt. As I have said before, the taproom will evolve over time and we want to hold some decent events, hopefully starting with a beer festival in August. Keep an eye on our taproom Facebook page for all news and feel free to get in touch with any suggestions you have.

In terms of the brewery move progress, we have moved a couple more of our fermenters from Lymington to Hardley and we hope to move the remaining vessels tomorrow. It has to be tomorrow as the pipework guys are turning up Tuesday to plumb every remaining vessel in to the cooling system. Tomorrow will be another crazy busy day no doubt for the team. I did a triple brew of our old favourite Summerlands on Friday and Saturday so now our 2 new large fermenters are both full up (Pupa was last week). This means 12000L of beer will be coming soon…..

All the hours put in during the last week have been more than worth it and I hope you agree. That’s it for now. #tired

Cheers!

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 15 PROGRESS

What a week it has been and we are now making beer!

Yesterday I dropped my phone and the damn thing no longer powers on (I have tried all sort of tricks) and at one point I thought I would have no photos to share but after many hours of research I have found some phone recovery software and have managed to obtain some of the weeks progress photos. Unfortunately I seem to have lost the non-taproom photos so apologies for the lack of photos this week. My phone is well and truly broken though so it is time for an upgrade….

Also yesterday we brewed for the first time and just about everything worked as hoped. However, one of the heating elements did trip a few times so we need to look at the reason why shortly. The welder turned up this week and made the necessary modifications to the stainless steel pipework and the electricians came and built our brewery control panels. Significant progress was also made on our taproom which opens on 1 June. Things have really gone to plan, which is something that does not happen nearly enough!

Even though we are using our existing brewery equipment at our new site (except for the addition of a few new vessels) it does feel like a new brewery now. The brewery environment is fantastic and I really believe it is a lot of money well spent. It is not just about having a much improved hygienic space but also about making process more efficient. We made some tweaks to the equipment so brewing is now easier and more efficient and these improvement will continue to evolve over time. Our first brew is Pupa and we are doing a triple brew of this (3 x 7 hour shifts back to back) right now to fill one of our new 6000L fermenters. Most of this beer is planned to make its way in to Can later in June.

The mash tun and copper were put in to position this week and the mashing yesterday was spot on. The copper chimney was installed and perhaps the nearby Hardley folk could smell boiling wort this weekend! Is this the first ever commercial brewery the area has seen? Perhaps.

The next planned brew after Pupa is a triple brew of Summerlands. Hopefully if all is functioning well we will then see the return of Kaleidoscope’s big brother - Gyroscope. Both of these brews will make their way to Can hopefully. We have to expect some issues in the coming weeks so these will be addressed when necessary. If we do see manjor issues then these beers may not be brewed or postponed.

We have now transported 2 of our 2000L fermenters from Lymington to Hardley and this week we hope to transport more fermenters over. We will then get the “cooling guys” back at some point to plumb them all in to the glycol pipework. Lymington is now looking a little sad and after the tanks are emptied this week and moved the place will be of little use to us except for a bit of storage. At some point in the near future we have the joyful task of putting “right” the unit. Money not well spent.

We finally got around to starting our taproom build this week and apart from beer dispense (the most important thing right?!) we are not far from being ready after a massive tidy up. The bar has just about been built, beer taps are on the wall, our new sink has been plumbed in and we have just taken delivery of a bespoke stainless steel back bar. We have our Can fridge up and running, our illuminated taproom sign is up above the door and our merchandise wall has been clad in old reclaimed scaffold boards. We took delivery of our beer tables and benches so there should be ample seating inside and outside in the yard. I am really excited about the opening of the taproom on Saturday and hopefully you are as well. Just wait until you see the taproom sign lit up at dusk!

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Next week you can expect a report on the opening weekend of our taproom as well as the continued news on the efforts in getting up and running. There is still plenty to do, such as dismantle and rebuild our cold room for the storage of our hops and cans. This will take a fair bit of time I think and we have to carefully transport 6M long insulated panels over to Hardley. Best keep your distance!

See you next week

Cheers

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 14 PROGRESS

Good morning! After a 3 week blog absence we return with the latest news on our efforts to get the brewery up and running at our new site in Hardley

After a couple weeks of steady progress last week saw some significant developments. The infrastructure has been laid and things are now all coming together to enable us to brew very soon. If all goes to plan then we could be brewing the first beer (is Pupa ok with you lot?!) in to our new 6000L tanks in about 1 weeks time. This is the aim but a lot of work is needed still before this can happen. Read on…

Our Glycol chiller is now ready for cooling action. It has 3 phase power, has been commissioned and our 2 new 6000L fermenters are now connected up to the fully insulated cooling pipework. Currently our 7 fermenters at Lymington are full of beer and as they become empty we will transport them across and plumb these in to the new cooling system. Avena is being packaged tomorrow so this will be the first tank to be available for transport. We are likely to pair up tanks so will wait for the next available tank before transporting to Hardley. We have 2 x 4000L fermenters to transport over and at the moment I am not fully certain we will do this job ourselves. I picked up the lifting gear this week to enable us to get the tanks in to horizontal position but they are mighty heavy to move around. We shall see.

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We brewed our last ever beer at Lymington on Wednesday/Thursday and the following day we wasted no time and moved our mash tun, hopper and copper over to hardley using our trusty trailer. The mezzanine floor was dismantled in a single day and we plan to use bits of this at our new site when the time is right (and we have some money!) Taking the floor down also enables us to get our tall vessels out much easier. The copper seemed enormous in our unit in Lymington but it looks tiny now, especially compared to our new 8000L Hot Liquor Tank! Today we have a local welder in to start welding the necessary stainless steel pipework to get the brew house up and running again. To start brewing we need the mash tun, hopper, copper, new hot liquor tank and a fermenter to be all ready. The fermenters are the only vessels that are almost ready for action right now. Tomorrow we have some new electricians turning up to build the brewery control panels. This is a big and very expensive job and estimated to take 3 to 4 days of solid work. If it is delayed then brewing the first beer will be delayed so it is just a little important things go well….same goes for the welding

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mash tun and copper arrive

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mash tun, copper and hot liquor tank are in position

Our hopper now sits in the unit next to the brewery so when we mash in the dust will not be in the hygienic brewery room but in the dry malt store instead. A window has just been created between the 2 units so we can see what is going on in the brewery unit when we are mashing in. A nice touch I think as we can spy on the brewers as well!

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Our hopper will sit next to the viewing window

Yesterday we closed our Lymington taproom and I would like to say a massive thanks to all those that supported us. We held some great events during our 5 years at Lymington and made some great new friends and people happy. The Friday night club members will hopefully join us for more fun and banter at our new taproom and of course we hope to have many new folk join us. Our new taproom opens on 1 June and we have yet to start building the new bar! However, the taproom build is starting tomorrow as we have found somebody local to help us out. We hope to have most of it completed by the end of this week and this gives us 1 week to put the finishing touches in to the taproom and make sure the beer dispense is working well. We plan to launch with 8 keg lines and 1 cask as well a bunch of cans in a lovely new fridge. We won’t have everything ready in time for launch but we are confident we will be 90% there and pouring great beer. Keep an eye of the Taproom Facebook page for developments. To say I am excited by the new taproom would be an understatement! A lot of Vibrant fans seem to share my excitement luckily :-)

The remains of our taproom

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A little bit of Vibrant branding is now starting to take shape in the taproom

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A few from the Friday night club depart for the last time in Lymington

So, this coming week (starting today) is a big one. We will hopefully see the taproom bar and decor take a massive step forward, brewery control panels built and a while bunch of stainless steel welded together. After this everything else must be dull and boring right? I very much doubt that somehow….

No doubt I have missed some news but I think I have covered the major stuff. I’m off now and hope to see you next week with hopefully some news on the excellent progress we have made this week

Cheers

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 11 PROGRESS

To the point, there is not much to report this week in terms of major progress. We will shortly be starting work on the bar build in our new taproom as we only have about 4 weeks before we open so as soon as we have some good progress you will hear all about it here.

The next major challenge will be moving some of our brewing vessels to Hardley and this is currently planned for May 18, so if things go to schedule we will have plenty to report then.

Cheers and have a good week

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 10 PROGRESS

Happy Easter Sunday to you all! After last weeks excitement of taking delivery of our new brewing vessels the past week has been a wee bit tame in comparison. Electrical work is nearing completion and we have been continuing to plan our new taproom space. We have had plenty of curious folk pop in and ask when the taproom is opening as well as buying a few take out cans. Thanks to all you good and curious folk! It is very much appreciated. I have been thrilled with the support we have received from the Waterside community so far and I am confident our taproom will be a success and give many people something so different from what is available right now in the area.

This week we announced on social media that our new taproom will be opening for business on Saturday 1 June so we must get a move on and start building our new bar. The current plan is to take our existing bar from Lymington and modify this for the better to fit our new taproom. This will happen after next weeks birthday bash and then our Lymington taproom will wind down and finally close on 18 May for good. It has to close at some point and this date has been decided, giving us a couple weeks to get ready for the opening of our shiny new taproom.

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So, yes, our birthday bash! Saturday 27 April will see our last ever event at our site in Lymington so it would be great if you can make it along. It sounds like we will be busy! Keep an eye on social media for the amazing beer list to be announced shortly.

In terms of developments at our new site, it is mainly the progress on the taproom that will be reported in the coming weeks. I would say the next big milestone will be the moving of our brewing vessels from Lymington to Hardley and this is planned to start on 18 May. It has been planned so there is no down time of brewing but this is very much dependent on the schedule of the various tradesman. The cooling pipe work in the brewery has not progressed this week but there is no immediate rush for this. We plan to start brewing at the end of May so we have plenty of time still

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There is not too much else to say this week except things are still going really smoothly and I am personally enjoying the warm weather even if I am inside at our new offices in Hardley typing this post! But hey, I am done now!

Cheers all

Kevin Robinson,

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 9 PROGRESS

Once again it is Sunday and we have had a great week at our new brewery site at Hardley. The major developments have been:

  • Our 3 new brewing vessels have arrived to plan

  • Our taproom has a nice new floor

  • Cooling pipework within the brewery is nearing completion

There is no doubt that the focus this week has been on the delivery of our new brewing vessels……

On Friday we took delivery of 2 new fermenters and a new hot liquor tank (HLT) from our supplier in Burton-on-Trent. The fermenters had actually been built back in late 2017 but because we were seeking new premises at that point we saw no logic to installing them at our current site in Lymington to only have to move them once new premises was found. Also, we would have to take our mezzanine floor down to squeeze them in as they are rather tall!

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The new fermenters have a capacity of about 6000 litres each which is very large for a small brewery like ourselves. Due to the size of our brew kit, we can only make up to 2000 litres of beer in a 7/8 hour day so we will have to brew 3 times to fill each fermenter. We have been double brewing in to our 4000 litre fermenters for some time now so this is just another step up. Our most popular beers will likely be brewed in to these tanks, such as Summerlands and Pupa. It is exciting to think of 6000 litres of Black Oktober but it would be a hard sell!

To say it was some effort to get these 3 vast tanks off the lorry and position in to place in the brewery is probably an understatement! The vessels each weigh about 2.2 tonnes so we had to borrow a more hefty fork lift truck from our landlord over the road as our fork lift will only lift up to 1.5 tonnes. Once unloaded we had the task of trying to move them in to the brewery still in their horizontal position and then get them upright (they are all too tall to get through the door when upright). Previously the installation has been done for us but it was not possible this time so we had to do it ourselves, somehow. Our head brewer, Bruce, likes challenges like this so he was in charge of this little task and I am pleased to say he did a grand job (as all 3 vessels are now upright and nothing was annihilated in the process! A big thanks to those staff that helped out with this.

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The new HLT holds 8000 litres of water (our old one had a capacity of 2600 litres) which will enable us to more easily triple brew in to the new fermenters. We plan to convert our old HLT in to a cold liquor tank at some point in the future

We hope to have the new fermenters connected to the new cooling pipework within the next week or so. We will have to do the same with our current fermenters in Lymington once we move them over in the coming months as well.

We now have a nice new epoxy painted floor in our taproom. The previous floor finish was just sealed concrete which was more than functional but it looked a bit naff so we took the opportunity to give the room a lift. This was more unplanned expenditure but hopefully worth it. Don’t go spilling your pint when we open,right?!

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Our cooling pipework is looking good and most of it is done now. It will still be some weeks before it is completed but we have the basics in place. It will need to be connected up to our new big chiller at some point and then tested for leaks etc. We have opted for super efficient pipe insulation and that is meant to be installed this coming week.

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So everything is still going well and that’s it for now. Thanks for reading and feel free to add any comments below

Cheers

Kevin Robinson,

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 8 PROGRESS

Our new brewery floor is finally complete and it looks epic! It will support major weight mid week and on Friday we should be taking delivery of our new 2 new fermenters and new hot liquor tank. This is all rather exciting. We have not tested the drainage yet just in case there are any issues but I am not too concerned about this at the moment.

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On Friday our building sign went up and I am very pleased with how it looks. It is something a bit different and not every design we create needs to be full of colour. Sometimes a more corporate and perhaps simple look is more suitable. What do you think? We will be having a taproom sign made shortly as well. Perhaps even this coming week if we are lucky.

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More good news! We have just been granted our premises licence at Hardley so we can now sell our lovely beer to the public (retail sales). Thanks to those keen folk who popped in on the very same day to purchase some cans. We have no bar or draught beer facility at present so we cannot offer draught beer yet or support consumption on-site. We are continuing to work on our new taproom right now and yesterday I spent all day painting and planning the new bar area. 80% of our barrel aged beers are now sat in the taproom space waiting for many more to join them in the coming years. This is something I am very passionate about so we will be barrel ageing a lot more beer in the future (not just yet!).

If you are in the area and want some beer then please come visit us at Unit 3 (Monday to Friday - please get in touch if you want to pop in on a Saturday and/or see what we have in stock). We can only accept cash at the moment but should have a card machine in a few days time.

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All of our stock is now at Hardley making life 1000% easier. No more running up the road to drop off or fetch beer to then realise you had forgotten something.. Of course, we are still brewing and packaging at Lymington so we do need to regularly drop off the newly packaged beer at Hardley but we know this is only a temporary chore so life is not so bad…..

The plan for this coming week?

  1. Look at putting down an epoxy paint floor in our taproom. This needs some research.

  2. Cooling pipework installation begins mid week

  3. Continue with taproom design (see our taproom facebook page for progress)

  4. Take delivery of 2 new fermenters and 1 new hot liquor tank and work out how we can best erect 5/6M tall and heavy vessels laying horizontally on the delivery lorry!

  5. Sleep some

Just like last Sunday I am brewing Pupa so I am off to attend to this now. Have a good week and cheers!

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin Robinson
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 7 PROGRESS

Hello and welcome to week 7. This week we have seen a major buy out of one of the pioneers of the UK craft beer scene. Magic Rock has been sold to Australian drinks giant, Lion. This is pretty big news within the craft industry and simply continues the trend of recent years.

OK, not to be side-tracked, on with the brewery relocation update…as mentioned last week, the focus this week has been on the completion of the brewery floor and I am pleased to say the floor will be finished today! Wow! What a lovely floor it is as well. It may be sad to get excited by a floor but I don’t care and hopefully when you visit us in the coming months you will totally agree. Definitely. will.

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our new tiled floor slopes towards the central drain

We need to wait about 10 days before we can start putting any significant load on the floor so we will do just this. So we will soon be able to place our new fermenters and hot liquor tank on the floor (they are about 2 weeks away from delivery) and we can finally start seeing evidence of a brewery. Nice. A whole bunch of electrical “stuff” needs to be installed in this room as well as the cooling pipework. Plenty more to do after the floor is ready!

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As well as the shiny new floor, we achieved another milestone this week. We moved more than half of our beer stock to Hardley and the rest will be moved tomorrow. Some of you may know that the past couple of years has been pretty painful as we have had to store our beer off-site about a mile away and this has meant LOTS of travelling backwards and forwards to drop off and collect beer. Beer is heavy, especially when there is a lot of it. Fortunately nobody collapsed during this time and without this additional storage we would not be where we are today. At this point I must thank my staff for the pain endured with this off site storage and thankfully it is finally thing of the past. Thanks for your patience chaps! Far too many hours and calories have been wasted lugging stuff around. No doubt we were not alone as a small brewery business can never have enough space….

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Kegs and cans welcome to Hardley

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Tidy. plenty more room upstairs when we need it

This coming week we should have our new brewery sign installed and all office activity will now take place at Hardley. Our office in Lymington is pretty dire to be honest as it is so noisy from the brewing activity that making phone calls is sometimes an unproductive experience. Also, the office is small and I have not had a desk for some time now so having to work at our cold bar or from home a lot! I have my own office at our new site and the sales guys have their own too. We even have carpet and a window where we can spy on you folk who come visit our taproom when it opens!

Right, I am in the middle of brewing Pupa so I better crack on with that and I look forward to another week working in this mighty interesting and challenging industry.

Cheers all

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin RobinsonComment
VIBRANT EXPANSION - WEEK 6 PROGRESS

Wow, 6 weeks have completely flown by! Overall, it has been 6 weeks which has pretty much gone to plan. Sorry for the slightly late post this week. Visiting one of our best customers at their fruit beer festival in Italy kind of took priority!

The only issue so far has seen a delay in the building of our new brewery floor. Various drainage steel parts failed to arrive from Germany in time meaning the completion of our new floor will now be about 2 weeks late. Fortunately, this is not a major issue because subsequent work that relies on the floor being complete is a little flexible on the start date. This work is mainly the installation of our new cooling pipework for our vessels, various electrical bits and the all important brewery control panels. We can also take delivery of our 2 new fermenters and hot liquor tank then put them in place once the floor is complete.

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Stainless steel channel and gully are installed

We now have fast broadband (it could not be much slower at our site in Lymington!) in our new offices both unit 3 and unit 5 and telephone handsets should be installed within the next week or so. Shortly I need to source some new office furniture and we should be ready to go

The electricians still have various bits to do such as running power to our new chiller as well as our brew kit.

So when do we actually start brewing at this new site? We do have an exact plan for that and this plan means as little down time from brewing as possible so we do not run out of lovely beer. Possibly no down time at all if everything goes as hoped. When all our fermentation tanks are full of beer at Lymington we can move our brew kit (mash tun, copper and hot liquor tank) and get these connected up to our new cooling pipework. When the brewery floor is complete (no more than 2 weeks from now hopefully) we can take delivery of our 2 x new 6000L fermenters and we can brew in to these to start with. We also have a new and rather large hot liquor tank arriving at the same time. There is a lot of work (and cost) to get the brew kit up and running so this will be a very challenging step in the weeks to come. I am hoping we can start moving our brew kit around the middle of May and then work hard with the engineers to get everything up and running. This move should be very “interesting” and more on this much later.

I think this covers most things for this week and hopefully next week we should start to see real good progress with the brewery floor. Have a good week

Cheers

Kevin Robinson

Founder, Vibrant Forest Brewery

Kevin Robinson