Brewers talk of “brew length” and the most frequently named unit of measurement is a hectolitre (that’s 100L, for those of us who don’t hail from continental Europe).
So in technical lingo, Minniegar was a 0.5HL brewery, our current set-up is 10HL and K2 will be 35HL. But we prefer to use a more familiar unit of measurement to give a layman’s impression of the scale. Here’s Zack on the current site in early April 2013 when the walls had just gone up.
Zack’s a Jack Russell, not a Doberman. We’ll photograph him in K2 as soon as we get him in there…
(Read more about building K1 here.)
As the clock ticks rapidly in the direction of K2, it’s hard not to think back to what was going on when K1 was coming to life. We’re going to root out some photos of the development phase over the next few days but this photo provides the answer to the first question.
Four years ago, in January 2013, we were still working in the pilot brewery. Rick brewed. Libby packaged. Very straightforward. Here’s a rare photo of Rick at work in what our future American intern, Maxmarie, would immortally dub “Minniegar”. Photography in the steam-filled room was always a bit of a challenge.
We brewed 50L batches and production, by the time we moved out of Minniegar, was 150L per week. That translated into an average of 120L of packaged product, or 240 bottles of beer a week.
Limeburner, Devil’s Backbone, Scraggy Bay and Rustbucket were all born in Minniegar.
I heard you guys are …
This is a phrase we’ve heard a lot lately, often with a real surprise at what follows.
A very loyal local fan of our beers recently told us how distraught he was because, as he put it, “I heard you guys sold the company.” He was even adamant that he knew who the supposed buyer was.
Another one we heard recently was from a local journalist who rang us up and said, “there was a fellow in here today from Ramelton who heard you’re building a brewing museum in Letterkenny.” The things these fellows come up with.
OK, here it is from the horse’s mouth. No, we haven’t, nor are we interested in selling the company. And no, we are not building a brewery museum. We’re too focused on making beer in the present to be thinking about its past.
This brings us then to what we are doing. We’re moving, or perhaps more accurately, we’re opening a brand new state-of-the-art brewery in nearby Letterkenny. (Our man in Ramelton’s brewing museum?)
The refurbishment works on the new premises are almost complete and our new brewhouse and tanks are in the production pipeline at the manufacturers. Fingers crossed, the different parts of the puzzle will come together in February 2017 when test brewing will commence.
While we are very disappointed to be moving the business out of Rathmullan (more to follow on this in Part II of the K2 series), we are thrilled to be making the move to Letterkenny. Besides enabling us to address the ongoing issue of supply shortages, the new facility will ease the pressure on a team that has put its heart and soul into keeping the production running for the past two years. That means no more 4am starts and midnight finishes.
Even though the clinking of bottles coming off our line will no longer mingle with the bleating of sheep in the surrounding fields, the farmhouse ethos at the core of what we do will remain the same (more to follow on this in Part III of the K2 series).
Our roots are deeply embedded in the hilly fields and farms of northeast Donegal — the perfect environment for the way we make beer. We don’t filter or pasteurise, and we let our industrious little friends, the yeast, carbonate our beer naturally during fermentation.
At K2, as we’re calling it here, Kinnegar will continue to pair brewing tradition with a contemporary sense of adventure to produce clean, crisp, full-flavoured beers.
So, now you can say with full confidence and authority, “I heard you guys are …”
P.S. Our K2 sketch is part of a piece called “Kinnegarland” being created by our old pal Dermot Flynn. It’s on course to be completed before K2…
For a man so deeply immersed in his own local community in Donegal, Jason Black’s panoramic world view, combined with a belief that anything is possible if you try hard enough, is anything but parochial. As an ardent advocate of his local brewery, Jason has many times wished Kinnegar well. Today we’d like to wish you well, Jason. The very, very best of luck as you undertake K2. We’ll be following your blog and wishing you Godspeed every step of the way. There’s a Scraggy Bay on ice for you when you get home in September.