Saturday, June 21, 2014

Lessons In Refrigeration

It had to happen. It was time for something to break; as inevitable as death, taxes and noisy neighbors. When we built the pub we decided to go cheapo DYI and build a cellar and cooler behind the bar using air conditioners. Cheap air conditioners from Sears. After all, it's a room 10' by 8' by 4' that has to be kept at 50 of Heir Fahrenheit's degrees. We could have installed a professional ductless A/C, and spent an order of magnitude more money, but this was more fun and had that rebel element to it that has a myriad of satisfying qualities.

Well, this pour old boy has been churning out cold air for six years now and is growing weary. There's nothing quite finer than popping into the pub of a morning, with a skip in your step, whistling an old Steely Dan tune, eager to prepare the pub for a fine day of the eat, the drink and the merry, to confront a big block of ice where your A/C unit used to be.

It's summer now, and the pub is running, and often heaving, seven days a week. Unlike the winter when we shut on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, making significant repairs is awkward. We certainly can't have a frazzled publican crawling around in the cellar behind the bar with a fistful of tools during service hours, where the bar staff has to explain why the cask ale is room temperature. I brought my A/C guy out to have a look and make suggestions. The installation of the ductless A/C that we originally rejected as being too efficient and practical was reintroduced, but the sticker shock got to me and the fact that it would take a whole day of having two frazzled A/C guys crawling around in the cellar behind the bar with a fistful of tools during service hours, where the staff has to explain why the cask ale is room temperature, wasn't sitting well with me.

So I bought another Sears Kenmore air conditioner. As I was attempting to purchase the new toy, carefully checking dimensions to make sure that the new unit would fit in the same hole through the block wall as the old unit, the nice Sears service man asked if the warranty was still good on my old one. When I told him that I yanked out the electronics and substituted an external temperature controller, he just silently shook his head and took my debit card.

The old unit is still limping along, and requires a couple of manual defrosts per day. Scheduling time with an early morning rise and a handy helper is my next step. I've unboxed the new guy and have been gazing at it with a look of unbridled hope and admiration. It's got all new electronics that I get to figure out how to bypass. What could go wrong?

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Out of Hibernation

hi·a·tus [hahy-ey-tuhs]
noun, plural hi·a·tus·es, hi·a·tus.
1. a break or interruption in the continuity of a work, series, action, etc.

It's a little hard for me to understand, but I've had as many as three people say that they miss my blog and wish I would get back at it. Alrighty then. You asked for it. The hiatus is over.

Eugene Beer Week kicks off this week. We're not in Eugene, but we're accepted as part of the community. Even the new Eugene Ale Trail that Travel Lane County kicked off last night at 16 Tons Cafe has us listed as a bonus destination. I brought down some beer and we had a good time.

I hadn't done a cask remotely in a while, so I had to remind myself of all the things that are required for serving real ale outside the safe confines of the pub. Having all the tools and taps and sundries, including ice quilts and jackets, is part of the job. I ordered a set of new quilts from UK Brewing Supplies a couple weeks in advance and prepped them up.

Keeping the temperature within the proper range is the trickiest bit. The quilts help but are not perfect. If only every pub had a cellar. The last time I sent out a cask was back in November at the Horse Brass Pub in Portland. The covered alley between the pub and offices was the perfect temperature back then, and we just stored the firkin overnight out there. I wish it could have been served from the same location.

I'll be back down again with another cask at the Tap & Growler on Friday. Of course this requires coming down Thursday to set up, but that also dictates that I have to go to the DeFazio/Papazian event and participate in some heavy schmoozing. I'll manage.