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11-09-2010, 18:31
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I love hops!

Well, it's been a busy couple of weeks. I've been taking advantage of the 'off peak' season starting, which has seen busy trading times at the most random times. A quiet Tuesday lunch followed by the place being rammed by 3pm with drinkers - not a bus load, but couples and a family. Friday night is normally a quiet night for food for us - yesterday we did 50 meals in the evening.

What this means is I'll have a look, make sure the kitchen are prepped up, then get outside and put the marquee/lights/hops etc up. Every now and then I'll be called back into the kitchen to help if we get a bit of a rush on, but the staff have really pulled together and upped their game recently, so this was relatively rare this week!

So now the stillages have all been built, capable of comfortably holding 52 firkins but with space for more (just in case). The concrete step has been made, the lights and hops are up in the marquee, and the second marquee has been cleaned and prepared, ready to get put up on Friday (its going on the lawn so we're leaving it as late as possible).

The orders have been sent for the glasses and the beer, although worryingly I've just realised I don't have enough taps. I'll sort that out Monday. The cooling system will be ready to pick up the day before the ales arrive, which is handy. And the website www.yourround.co.uk has really impressed me - we've got an account for the pub, which shows the ales on at the moment on the website (http://www.kilverts.co.uk/), and one for the festival. So if you click here, you'll get a nice graphic showing all the ales we've got coming (http://yourround.co.uk/FestivalCam/Hay-on-Wye/The-Hay-Ale-and-Literature-Festival/HR3-5AG.aspx). Hover your mouse over the ale for the tasting notes. Really am happy with that.

The website is being updated thanks to the excellent customer service provided by queensborough group, who hosted, designed, maintained and everything else the website, and also provided the booking system we use for the rooms. Having received a bill, Mum called them up and enquired what the bill was for as it wasn't very clear. Apparently asking that question is, in their view, offensive and rude, and they said they'll be stopping our service after 7 days. 2 days later they cut us off - the website showed a white page, the booking system wouldn't let us log in and no emails. A phone call to find out what happened informed us they'd changed their minds and shut us off early. No access to any of the bookings made, to the emails, anything. With Mum in tears I spent the rest of the day learning how to host, build and update a website. I'm currently designing a new site from scratch to replace what I've thrown together to keep our web presence.

Whilst on the subject of awkward arses, Brecon Beacons Planning Authority. They want full plans for whatever we wanted to do to accommodate the brewery in the car park - a roof on an existing out house, a new build, anything we could think off needed full plans. But yesterday Dad came through with the best birthday present I got - a way in which the brewery could be in place in time for the festival.

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Its not a bush, its a tree!

If your replacing an existing structure like-for-like, you don't need planning permission. So 2 worn out, useless sheds tucked away behind the Mulberry tree could be taken apart (a day's work) and a single, new 'workshop shed' put in. Large enough for the vessels, access to water and electric, drains, room to store malt and hops, everything I'd need. So a pleasantly worded email was sent to the planning authority, stating that although we don't need plans to do the work we wanted to keep them in the loop. I went off to celebrate in a great mood.

This morning, with a slightly cloudy head I turned up to work and found Dad not in the greatest of moods. They'd replied to his email saying we couldn't replace the sheds without full planning permission because we are a commercial site. Complete rubbish, it's just replacing a shed!

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The staff accommodation had seen better days...

So although not ideal we've found a way around the problem. We'll repair the existing sheds. Not replace them, but repair them. We'll repair all 4 walls, the roof and the floor. So over the next 2 weeks you'll probably find me in scruffs at the pub, clearing out all the stuff that gets dumped in a worn out shed (2 beer engines, 2 flash coolers, 4 keg lines including cellar bouys and taps, a glasswasher we took out of the pub the first week we took over nearly 4 years ago, several garden umbrellas and a can of brasso). Sadly I can't cut back the huge Mulberry tree to make my life a little easier because we're in a conservation area. I need permission. From Brecon Beacon's Planning authority.

To end on a good note, the festival is really coming together. I'm nervous, but looking forward to it. The tutored food and ale pairing has sold out twice, but due to cancellations there are now just 4 tickets left. Interest is huge, and with a graphic displaying all the ales that will be on offer in the bar the locals are placing bets on which sell out first!

Time for an ale, or 2.

More... (http://studentbrewer.blogspot.com/2010/09/exciting-times.html)