Things begin to take shape

It’s been another busy time at Hopkins Street and, up until this weekend, we started to feel like we hadn’t made it out of the warehouse in weeks, let alone caught up with any friends.  Luckily that changed when, for the first time in over 2 weeks, we had no workers over the weekend and caught up with friends and family all weekend: we began to feel human once again!

The roofers spent over a week tinkering with the final stages of the warehouse roof and then eventually moved on to do the roof over the offices section (which will be our living accommodation).  It’s STILL not finished, however, and they return tomorrow for what we hope will be the final day.

As well as roofers, we’ve also had carpenters – the fantastic Mike Rule and his team from AllWood – working on balustrades on the mezzanine area of the warehouse.  They finished mid-week and Thursday was spent cleaning the warehouse from top to bottom.  Our poor new flooring and paintwork has taken a beating – but luckily both have stood up to the worst of it.

We also had a second visit from the guys at Distillique, Gert and Frits, who brought with them replacement parts and spent 3 days working full out to get our equipment up and running.  We fired up the ginning still for the first time and made some moonshine – very exciting!  In typical fashion, however, there are a couple of parts that needed changing and so they left us not quite up and running; but we’re nearly there.

Finally, and most importantly, SARS (the South African Revenue Service) paid us a visit in connection with licensing the stills.  They inspected the premises, collected a whole lot of paperwork and, we are really pleased to say, issued us the initial licences, to use each of the stills for our own use (for experimentation) at Hopkins Street.  The manufacturing licences will come a bit later – but for now we’re making history, as these are the first still licences to be issued by the City of Cape Town!  They are registered as CTN001, CTN002 and CTN003.

Hope on Hopkins Distillery: the equipment arrives

It’s been a fairly chaotic couple of weeks since the last update, with the distillery equipment arriving, and the roofing finally going on in the warehouse.

Gert and Frits from Distillique, the company helping out with our equipment, spent a week with us, getting all the equipment up and running.  The first hitch was – as mentioned previously – the fact that the boilers and fermentation tanks arrived on a huge articulated lorry, which was only able to park at an angle in our street, meaning that we were unable to use our recently acquired pallet stacker to unload it.  The second time our pallet stacker has been unable to be used – hopefully we will be able to use it for more than warehouse games sometime soon!

I rushed off down the road in search of a forklift truck.  One of the huge advantages of being based in the not so salubrious Salt River area, is that finding a forklift truck and friendly driver is not too difficult a challenge!  It took all of about 5 minutes before finding a forklift in operation and the driver was happy to come to our assistance.  He motored up Hopkins Street and whipped the equipment off the back of the truck in no time!

The distillery set up went really well until the last afternoon, just before the guys were due to leave and tested the chiller for the first time and it all went horribly wrong: there was some kind of blockage in the chiller, which expanded to breaking point and then the hosing burst, flooding most of the warehouse.

What this meant was that we couldn’t do a first fermentation as planned, and instead have to wait for a replacement unit.  It was all very frustrating; but at least a relatively small issue in the scheme of things.

Assembling the distillery equipment

Assembling the distillery equipment

The next step has been the arrival of our new roof sheeting: the NUMSA (metal workers’ union) strike meant a huge delay in the pressing of any metal, so the roof, which should have been replaced well before the equipment was due to arrive, was put on hold indefinitely.  The sheeting arrived last week, at long last, but so did the rain, meaning more delays.  We have, however, had magnificent sunshine (and 27 degrees yesterday!) for the past 5 days and now have a new properly insulated roof, complete with light diffusing panels, so the warehouse now is light and bright.

A further exciting step was the eventual arrival of our Juniper Berries, all the way from Macedonia, having sat in customs at Cape Town port for a while.  The warehouse is now filled with a piney aroma and we are one step closer to our first bottle of Hope!