A Year In Portobello
It's hard to believe we've been in our Portobello brewery for over a year. Last Christmas we’d just finished installing our new brew kit and began the first of many brews in our Edinburgh home. With well over 200 brews since then, and nearly 70 new releases in 2021, it’s fair to say it’s been a big year for us at Vault City.
We started this year in lockdown doing local deliveries having thrown a website together to help keep us going. It seems painfully reminiscent to be facing another potential lockdown so early on in 2022, but as always, it reminds us how grateful we are to everyone who has supported our brewery, from bars and bottle shops to our Sour Sunday customers – your support has a huge impact and it means the world to us.
Ch-ch-ch Changes at Vault City
There have been lots of changes as we’ve adapted and grown through the pandemic and beyond, but the first thing you’ll notice, is that our team has more than doubled in size this year. There are now 12 of us in team Vault City, although we unfortunately couldn’t get Haig, Joe C or Joe R in the team photo – suppose some of us have to keep the business running!
Another huge change we made this year, was the introduction of our 4-day work week. Early in 2021, we decided to embrace a new way of working which has massive benefits for the wellbeing of our team. However, making a change like this takes time and planning. As far as we’re aware, we’re one of the only commercial breweries to take this approach so there was no road map to follow. We phased in the 4-day work week throughout this year, and from 2022, all team members at Vault City will be permanently on this new way of working.
In April this year we began stocking our beer in Tesco. We spent a lot of time talking with the Vault City community about this decision and how it would ultimately help us grow, meaning better pricing for independents, salaries well above market rates, and a chance for more people to try modern sour beers from Vault City.
Birthday Beers and Strawberry Ceilings...
We launched a birthday beer this year with explosive results. Our first time using edible glitter in a beer created some beautiful photos on social media but also some unfortunately messy situations. Creating something impractical but delicious is surely what we’re most known for, so while this wasn’t our brightest idea, we can’t promise we won’t do it again if we manage to make something less lively in 2022…
📸 by @Hazy_Yoda
The Wee Vault
One of our most exciting projects to date came to life this year when we opened The Wee Vault – our very own tasting room and bottle shop in Haymarket, Edinburgh. The opening of our super cosy taproom is the product of blood, sweat and tears from our Co-Founder Steve, and very obviously a moment of huge pride watching people queue up the street on opening night. If you haven’t experienced our custom-built 24 tap set-up, then we recommend booking a visit as soon as you can.
📸 by @YoIain
Bruichladdich Barrel Aged Whisky Sour
Rounding off the year, we had the absolute pleasure of visiting Islay to collaborate with one of our favourite distilleries on a special release with our amazing pals at Brewgooder. We’ve seen an incredible response to our Bruichladdich Barrel Aged Whisky Sour, and the impact of the release will be felt far beyond just those who drink it. Every litre sold unlocks 1000x its volume in clean water for communities around the world.
📸 by @YoIain
From our Co-Founder Steve...
We’re so excited for what 2022 has in store for Vault City. Our Co-Founder Steve has put together his thoughts on 2021 and what the future holds ⬇
It's incredible to think we've only really had 4 months out of Covid as a commercial brewery not operating out our kitchen. The support from customers and the wider industry has been astounding; the year has been wild but so extraordinarily fun.
Our wee team has expended into a not-so-wee team. Every addition has made their own mark on Vault City and we're now at a comfortable size with an exceptional group of people, I really could not be prouder of the team around us.
2021 saw us starting to find out feet a bit - it still feels like we're flying by the seat of our pants however I feel we've now found our place in this fledgling industry.
The best decision we've made all year is to slow the pace and take things a little easier. We didn't take advantage of our lack of external investment and board overlords - we decided we weren't putting 100% care and attention into every single beer and couldn't at the pace we were going, so we slowed down and gave every single beer released 100% attention, often tweaking at the 11th hour, and it shows.
A big decision early on in Vault City's life was that we weren't adverse to listing beers in supermarkets. We really think we've got a product that has mass and niche appeal - our 375s will always be the over-the-top belters that continue to push the envelope however I do believe that sour beer no longer needs to be the final destination of a beer journey. It is, in my eyes, more suited to being the start.
You've made it this far, so what's in store for VC this year?
- Everything not in a 375ml bottle will be in a can - surprise! Don't ruin Richard's announcement, keep this one between us for getting this far.
- We've burst the seams of our current space, we're hoping to be into a second location by March. This space will be for storage and office space, however does give us the opportunity to significantly expand dark and wild barrel and foudre aged beers. Don't expect anything from this project for years, in fact, forget I even mentioned it.
- We will release an alcohol that isn't beer. We'll be doing this in a way that hasn't been done before, our initial trials are incredible. Get on the newsletter.
- We'll bring out a core range in Spring, why wouldn't you want a four pack of Cloudy Lemonade for bbqs in the park?
- We'll open up more Wee Vaults where people want them - got a great location? Fire an email to email@example.com
Have a great New Year, your support through the year is so enormously appreciated.