In Closing, Cheers to 2018 - A ten month retrospective of LOKA POLLY
Apologies for the infrequent updates and posts on our blog section; I know we should be posting with greater regularity and keeping you all up to date as to what’s going on and what we’re doing in this sleepy corner of North Wales. Truth is, it’s been incredibly difficult to find the time to sit down during work hours because we’ve been going at nothing less than 100mph since we hit the ground all the way back in January; by the time we’re home and kicking back, we’re all tuckered out from whatever crazy thing we’ve been up to that day. By some complete miracle though, I’ve completely caught up with everything, my current EMCS movement is just awaiting a registration plate (more on that later), and I have no deliveries this week, as we’re taking a little jaunt to Manchester at the end of the week (again, more on that later). So, as the nights begin to draw in again, thus begins a retrospective into the year that was 2018 at LOKA POLLY, and what the future (currently) holds.
A New Player Has Joined the Game
We thought about announcing this with a promo video more ridiculous than Alexis Sanchez’ piano playing malarkey when he signed for United, but a blog post will do just as well. We realised that Sean is in fact not superhuman (despite what he believes) and all the extra volume in terms of brew days and packaging days meant that we would have to fast-track the hiring of an assistant brewer.
We never looked any further than Scott, on account of both Sean and myself having known him for a very long time and were extremely impressed at his commitment to the cause, willingness to learn, eagerness to jump into the nitty gritty parts of brewing (I’ve never seen someone so keen to jump into digging out a mash), and the fact that he comes from a culinary background; so will be able to pick up and identify flavour profiles we would otherwise miss. Welcome to the team, Scott.
A further update on the tank situation. Yes, two new shiny fermenters arrived in August, which allowed us to brew twice a week, every week. This gave our brew plans a little bit of structure instead of the hotch-potch all over the place set up that we were operating prior to August. We’ve upped the game again and put an order in for another four fermenting vessels, which should be landing in December, ready for the new year. With these four new tanks, our brew days will be increased to three times a week, with the knock on effect being that we’ll be packaging three beers per week every week - effectively doubling our brew capacity, and allowing us to branch out a little more from our two-hop range that has been so successful for us up to now. This will also mean a lot more regularity with supply to our wholesale customers, and disregarding the need to have to wait for beer as we’re forced to do with our current brew capacity. Wholesalers, we’re being serious when we say “it’s not you, its us”!
On That “Branching Out”
We’ve always got our eye on what the next thing is that we can do at LOKA POLLY. We never want to fall into the trap of becoming lazy with our beers and resting on our laurels. This is why over the course of several design meetings at LPHQ, we’ve settled on an entirely new range to coincide with the arrival of our new tanks, to launch early next year. This range of beers will launch with an IPA, a DDH IPA and DIPA; not limited to the two-hop structure we’ve built ourselves on - rather loading our beers with four, five even six different hops, and naming - yes, naming - the beers. The label artwork of these beers will be completely different to anything we’ve done before; we’ve enlisted the help of a local graphic designer to assist in the nurturing of the look and style of these beers, and the plan is to launch with our first in this series - OPAQUE in January 2019. Watch for the countdown.
Similarly, we want to have a range to come back to again and again. A “core range” has been mooted at LOKA POLLY since day one, and we’re finally reaching a point where we can realistically say yes to what we would call our core range. Launching in April 2019, work is still ongoing, but we can confirm a tank will be dedicated to a core Pale, a core small IPA, and a core IPA initially once every two months, with the timeframe shortening as their popularity increases.
Polly Moves House
We are extremely fortunate with the space that we brew in; Polly’s stable has served us tremendously well for the entirety of our very short existence, and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future (more on that below). Anyone who HAS been lucky enough to see our brewery will know that space is extremely compact. Just like we are fortunate to have Polly’s stable, we are also fortunate to have a new space to move our operation into on the same yard. We’ve already started slowly taking over this space, with canning days already having been moved over to take advantage of the extra room we’re afforded. Current plans are to work on the drainage situation in the building, with cladding work needing to be done before we move production over full time hopefully before the end of the year.
The question still remains though, as to what we plan to use Polly’s stable for going forward. Several ideas were batted around at our design meetings; including a malt store or dry storage area, before we decided on another challenge for ourselves - a barrel-aging store. We’ve come into contact with a means of obtaining some oak barrels, and plan on taking the plunge with brewing our first barrel-aged imperial stout at some point in the second quarter of next year.
That European Vibe
We’ve made no secret since day one that we would love to see our beers overseas and across mainland Europe. What began as a pipedream, turned into a frustrating situation as we were building contacts overseas, and had everything within touching distance, but due to a clerical error on the part of HMRC (don’t get us started) we were spending more money on paracetamol for Arron on account of the time he spent banging his head against the table waiting for things to fall into place.
The aforementioned things have now fallen into place however, and we are over the moon to report that we have now successfully exported to France and Spain, with The Netherlands and Scandinavia in line - something we never in a million years we thought we’d be doing ten months into this venture when we started in that snowy January at the beginning of the year. As it stands we’re working on a very ad-hoc basis with our export customers, but hopefully with the addition of the four new tanks due to land in December, we can work on a regular supply of beer overseas.
Festival Season 2018
We’ve been extremely lucky to join the bill at some incredible festivals this year. It started at the Beer Heroes Chester Craft Festival, through to the Little Summer Beer Bash hosted by Left Handed Giant in Bristol, to Derby Beer Convention last month. We can confirm that we’ve taken three more bookings for festival appearances for the year before we sign off on the 2018 festival season - The Independent Manchester Beer Convention this month, The Independent Salford Beer Festival in November and Plymouth Beer Festival hosted by Vessel in late November/early December. We are still absolutely humbled that we have even been considered for these incredible festivals and would like to take the opportunity to thank the festival organisers for picking this ragtag brewery from North Wales to join the party!
LOKA POLLY Swag is FINALLY in the Works
I know we can only use the excuse that we’ve been too busy so many times, but I swear this is the last time I’ll use it now. We have had merchandise at the back of our minds since day one, but we’re perfectionists by nature, and don’t want to release anything unless we’re completely happy with the end result. As a result, merch took a back seat for us until we turned up at the previously mentioned festivals and noticed that we were the only brewery without branded t-shirts, at which point it was thrust back to the forefront of our minds once again.
We’re working on t-shirts first and foremost, with branded glassware in the books shortly afterwards. We’ll be listing all of our merch on the online store as soon as it’s available, and are hopeful of it dropping before the year is out. Similarly, we’d love to take suggestions from you guys, the people who enjoy our beers most, as to what you want in terms of LOKA POLLY swag. If your suggestions are feasible (we’d love LOKA POLLY-branded beach balls as much as the next person, but it’s just not gonna happen!) then it could be making an appearance on our online store soon.
One of the things that has been a sticking point at LPHQ since early on in our existence was that we’ve never been happy with our website. Perfectionists that we confess to being, we bemoaned the fact that the everything on there is very very basic. We’re in contact with the same designer who will be tackling the designs for our new beer range to design our new website, with plans to have the two ready to launch in tandem with one another. Keep an eye out for when we’re “Down for Maintenance”!
And that’s about it on everything up to now, and what we know for the immediate future of LOKA POLLY. It’s been a wild ten month ride, and we’re not ready to get off just yet. Thank you to all the customers, the drinkers, and the fans that enjoy our beer so much; it’s an absolute privilege to do what we do for you guys.
The Guy with the Fuzzy Hair