I can hardly believe that a year has gone by since that last post. I was washing bottles for the first time on our home-made bottle spraying, POS (and I don't mean 'point of sale') bottle washer.
Since then, not only did we engineer a kick-ass bottle washer, but we have streamlined the label removal, have a light table for bottle inspection, and we successfully petitioned the bottle manufacturer to change materials used for the bottle gaskets (previously 1/15 bottles failed to hold carbonation; now it is more like 1/150, and most of those turn out to have a tiny crack here or there).
Back then, I think we were only selling to a handful of places. Now we have our bottles at all the co-ops, all the New Seasons Markets, most all of the bottle shops and specialty beer bars, and on Tuesday I will be making the first delivery to Zupans on Burnside. Back then, we didn't want to make too big of a deal about the reusable bottle idea, because we didn't know if it would work out; now it is a major part of the brewery work schedule.
Last year, we had a wonderful second season of serving out of our beer bus at Krugers Farm on Sauvie Island. This year, we have that same bus (hopefully) permanently parked at the D-Street Noshery (SE 32 and Division), and in a few months will have a 1946 ex-Franz bread truck pouring pints at NE 23 and Alberta, as well as having our third season at Krugers Farm.
This time last year, we were almost completely dependent upon one distributor that only sold our kegs to a handful of places. Now we have a (different) distributor that carries our bottles to all of Oregon outside of the pdx-area, and we distribute our bottles directly to the pdx-area, and are looking to get certified to direct sell to southern Washington.
Also since last year: we partnered with our friend Balam to make and sell bottled kombucha. After the Lindsey Lohan kombucha recall, I at first contacted a couple of local kombucha brewers to see if we could work something out; perhaps we could use our licensed premises until they could get their own licenses (takes about four months for federal approval). Both declined, seeking their own ways to keep the alcohol out of their 'bucha. Balam had been homebrewing kombucha for about twelve years, and neither of us was impressed with anything on the market then. Thus was born Invisible Alchemy Kombucha, barely alcoholic as any real kombucha will be once you bottle it.
We have also decided that we want to have as a goal that anyone that works with us on a regular basis have a hand at brewing. We set up a one barrel pilot for training, and then a three barrel nano-brew for making small, six keg batches for the experiments we want to put on at the beer bus. Further, we want each beer bus to have around ten different of our beers, so the small batches will allow us to make a diverse spread of beers without burrying us under a ton of kegs of just one flavor.
I think that is about it. I think the bottle delabeler is heated up by now, so I am off to remove the labels from about forty cases of bottles.