Saturday, January 31, 2009

Clean Lines Are Happy Lines

Woolpack Dave's post about lines on glasses contains a comment about lines containing beer and the cleanliness thereof. This reminded me that my lines needed to be cleaned. I try to do this every Wednesday morning, but I'm beset by enough distractions and micro-jobs that I sometimes don't get to it. This is despite the fact that there is a paper sign taped to the wall behind my desk in clear view of the desk's occupant that states "Note to Publican - Clean Lines".

It got to it.

It's really not a difficult task; takes about an hour of punctuated attention. I have six hand pulls, and consequently six lines, that service eight casks on the stillage behind the bar. The beer line cleaning product is some pink stuff from Shepard Bros. that mixes easily in a bucket of water. Disconnect all the lines, drop them in the bucket, and pull through each engine until the liquid dispensing into the little metal pail starts to appear a wee bit pink. Let sit for 15 minutes. Pull another cylinder through. Let sit for five. Pull another through. Let sit for five more. Then clean out the bucket, fill with cold water, and repeat the process until the liquid coming out of the neck is clear and non-slimy.

This is then a great time to rearrange the ale lineup, hopefully in some rational sort order such as by ABV or style. The rules of whimsy also sometimes apply, and it's fun to keep the barkeep on his toes, which is often myself. It also confuses the punters and makes them read the pump clips.

Once the lines are all hooked up, then each and every beer has to be sampled. 'Nuff said.

Cleaning the six keg lines is much more difficult, as it entails dealing with a pressured corny keg full of cleanser and lots of spidery gas and beer lines all tangled up in the cooler under the back bar.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is Gordon Ramsay Subject to the Laws of Physics?

Thanks to the beauty and efficiency of the The Google on the Internets, I came across the following illustrative gem on a Twitter archive whilst trolling around for links to my site:

"An hour for fish and chips is not good, gordan ramsey[sic] would ducking explode on the cook here"

There were some other comments of a less than flattering nature directed at my kitchen staff which I will refrain from posting here, but apparently the individual was upset at how long it took for his/her food to arrive. That would be fine if it were justifiable. It isn't.

Now, just why people would allow their off-the-cuff conversations to be posted on the Internet I have trouble understanding, but there is a problem here that I need to air. First of all, unjustifiable attacks on my staff irk me. 'Nuff said.

More importantly, there seems to be a general lack of understanding on the part of a large number of patrons as to the capabilities of a particular kitchen at any specific time. We are clear here at the pub that we are not a restaurant, and that busy nights illustrate the physics of cramming a gallon of output into a quart jar. Not only do our menus state the philosophy of our pub, but there is sufficient clarity as to our limitations when we are really busy, also stated verbally at the point of sale by our really good and capable staff.

I'll leave the following exercise up to the reader:

1) Let's assume Mr. Fusspot (not his real name, but close) arrives and places his order at the bar. He demands fish and chips. He is informed as to the approximate duration of his wait, based on past experience under similar circumstances. The line is straining with a dozen tickets. There are three people, including the chef, working the kitchen.

2) The kitchen has two fryer baskets, one for meats and one for veggies.

3) The veggie basket can hold 3 orders of tempeh sticks, or 3 orders of fries.

4) The meat basket can hold 3 orders of fish, or 1 order of wings.

5) Amongst activity on the grill (2 ft. x 2 ft.) and other orders such as salads and desserts, there are 2 orders of wings, 10 orders of fish and chips, 6 orders involving fries, and 4 orders involving tempeh.

6) Let's say it takes an average of 10 minutes per fryer basket.

Q1: How long will it take our kitchen to prepare Mr. Fusspot's order?
Q2: How long would it take Gordon Ramsay to prepare his order?

Q2 might be a bit unfair, as I would be unlikely to permit Mr. Ramsay in my kitchen as he often behaves like a pillock on the telly. 

Unfortunately, the Twitter post makes no mention as to the quality of the fish and chips once it arrived.

Monday, January 12, 2009

La'al Rye'un

I really don't like beer reviews. It seems that everyone is grumpy about the beers they are consuming, for the most part, and I have started a couple of unfinished posts about just what I think about this. But then something inside me realized that I was being grumpy about people being grumpy, and haven't clicked the "Publish Post" button yet until I get this sorted out in my own mind.

Anyway, as I rolled cask number two out of eight of La'al Rye'un onto the stillage I thought I should say a word or two about it.

We had a fun yet zippy fast visit from our Sister Pub, The Woolpack Inn, over Christmas, and Dave the landlord/brewer, was put to the task of creating a mild using rye. Mild is a style that I don't understand all that much, but figure I have a few more years to learn about. I had a bag of rye languishing in the millhouse, and had only used a bit for a light rye stout that I made as one of the first test batches back in August. As my brewery and pub use all imperial measure, and the brewery itself is modeled after the Hardknott Brewery at the Woolpack, Dave seemed to feel right at home. Indeed, I was chased out of my own brewery on a few occasions as I attempted to monitor the progress.

Just this morning I drew the first pint of cask number two off the nice handy Cask Doctor taps I'm using. I call this the "finings pint". For quality control purposes one must make sure that fish guts and yeast aren't being dispensed into the eager punter's pint glass. Not a problem with this ale. That first pint is going to be just as good as the last. It is bright and full of flavor. The rye bit is present in the nose and the finish, which lingers just long enough for the next hoist of the glassware. The mash temperature was set at 68 Celsius to create a maltier, less bitter (more mild) flavor.

The second pull through the sparkler was even nicer. At 3.0% ABV, this is definitely a session quaffer, and I can't think of anything I'd do to change the recipe.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The King

It's not every day Elvis comes to visit.

He wasn't here long. Not only didn't he sing, but he didn't consume a single pint of real ale, so I didn't get a chance to ask him whether he preferred it sparkled or not.

Friday, January 2, 2009

So Ya Wanna Run a Pub...

So it's been a right long time since I've put metaphorical pen to paper and consigned a sequence of ones and zeros to a record in an SQL database in a server farm somewhere in Seattle. Maybe this is a good thing. It means I got to stop thinking and just do - the business of running a pub and brewery, that is.

It's customary, nay, even traditional, to do some sort of resolution at the beginning of the year, or perhaps sum up the nadirs and zeniths of the previous. I've chosen to simply ramble for a paragraph or two.

I have 30 minutes or so to drink up a nice pot of coffee down at the Trailhead Coffeehouse before I head to what is my new job. This still hasn't settled in on me yet, after being open for more than four months now. It's too early to call the business successful, and it's too late to go back, as I imagine myself a third of the way through a half gainer, poised in the ether over what I hope to be 10 feet of room temperature water and not a concrete and tile substrate. There is just an awful amount of work ahead, and yet the accomplishments of this last year seem to defy introspection. I think I need a few more hours off here and there; a few more walks along the river; a few more nights in somebody else's pub over a good book.

There is now a pub and brewery in Oakridge, unlikely as it still seems sometimes. I had thought about this project some eleven years ago, and here we are. And as the bottom of this coffee cup begins to contemplate exposure to the elements, the topics are beginning to pile up in my slowly decaying cortex.

- Our first beer festival is coming up, in which we will be attempting to introduce real ale and beer engines (and sparklers) to the revelers at the fairgrounds.

- We had a great visit from our sister pub in Cumbria.

- National Geographic Geo Tourism has chosen us for their kickoff party this month.

- The new menu.

- Pubs are closing in the UK; I'll have to go over there and do something about it.

- Cash flow, payroll, recessions, lions and tigers and bears (oh bother).

- Where to get hops from, and how to pay for them.

- Thoughts about craft brewing, and why the big regionals can't make a decent pint half the time.

- Thoughts about craft brewing, and why some of the smaller guys produce some extraordinary liquid refreshment.

Coffee's gone - time to go open a pub. Since we were closed for New Years, I know I will have to undergo the rigors of checking all six beer engines for quality.