One of the many challenges faced by brewers once the venue shutdown started was what to do with beer already in kegs. There were those no longer needed by venues – although many venues have since switched to packaging theirs into crowlers and growlers for resale. And there were those they had for their own, now closed venues, in warehouses or destined to leave their breweries for customers that no longer wanted them.
While some have switched to filling cans from kegs or, like some pubs and bars, repacked into smaller, take home vessels, the team at Dainton came up with another idea. Faced with a few "orphan" kegs of various beers without a home they decided to blend them together to create new beers to be canned and sold through their friendly indie retailers.
"It was quite funny how it came about," says national sales manager Todd Barac. "Kev [Dainton], owner and financial controller, has said, 'Shit. That's money tied up that's literally going down the drain.' So we wanted to turn that into something super positive."
And that turned out to be Pandemic Punch and Rye-solation, two new blends.
"It's about repurposing, reusing and rethinking," is how Todd puts it. "Turning the orphan kegs into something else.
"We all need to be a little bit more flexible. It could become a bit of a trend with brewers coming together and creating collabs with their kegs."
The Pandemic Punch features a blend of their most recent fruit and NEIPA style releases, while Rye-solation is a combination of the brewery's flagship Red Eye Rye and a rye porter. According to Cam Turner, the brewer overseeing the process, they took a look at the keg list to work out which beers would work best together.
"It was a chance to make something really unique that people would enjoy from this strange situation we all find ourselves in," he says.
In practical terms, it featured a complete reversal of how they usually move beer from brite tank into keg. They started with all of the kegs that were to be blended on pallets and pushed them with CO2 back into the bottom of the brite tank, ensuring the tank had been "washed, sterilised and pre-purged to an inch of its life" with CO2, and taking care to bleed a small amount of beer from the coupler to limit the risk of any dissolved oxygen pickup during the transfer.
As for the reality of life at the brewery, Todd says it's as challenging as for any small brewery right now. A number of venue and sales staff have been stood down with the goal being to "keep things ticking over" until the pandemic passes.
There will only be a short run of both these two blends, but Todd says they plan to do more in this area – as well as more of the virtual masterclasses they're kicking off on April 25 – over the coming months.
"We're not going to let is crush us," he says. "It's not going to crush our creativity."
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Pandemic Punch and Rye-solation should start landing in stores around two weeks from the date of this article.