Cellarage in the Black Forest
It is once again so far – I may with on assembly and hold the whole thing on camera! After my last time – a cellarage in Luxembourg – I was looking forward to the cellarage.
It goes to a customer in the Black Forest at the 18 cherry brandy vats are to be cellared out. Yes 18 pieces! For it 3 days were scheduled. On the very first day I should be there.
But now some bad news: 4:20 a.m. to get up, 6 a.m. departure from Bad Dürkheim and 1 ½ hours drive…
Fortunately for me, my colleague Jens was at the wheel and I had 1 ½ hours time and a thermo cup with coffee to become responsive. As a little surprise for my two colleagues Jens and Jan, who had to work hard that day, I packed a whole pot of coffee.
Let’s set the clock to the beginning….
Off to the Black Forest!
Shortly before 6 in Bad Dürkheim. After a good morning and the rest of packing tools and our backpacks quet…the three of us snuggle into the Sprinter and head out in the rain. A drive of 1 ½ hours lies ahead of us in which Jens, Jan and I talk about the upcoming cellarage and more. An exhausting day is ahead of us and finally we arrive – without traffic jam – at the customer in the Black Forest.
Even from a distance, you can see how this company has grown steadily. An old half-timbered house has been skilfully extended and production and storage halls have been integrated. As a media-sensitive person, I was also very impressed by the design of the company’s own trucks and sprinters, which unite the traditional company as well as modernity.
No sooner had Jens arrived than he knew exactly where the vats were located. On the way to the barrel cellar, which is located in the half-timbered house, the person in charge of the distillery welcomes us. Our cooper Jens discusses with him what we still need from them (forklift) and where the cellared barrels should stand until the booked truck arrives. After this is settled the Sprinter is unloaded and tools, pallets and other aids are brought to the barrel cellar.
In the cellar, the first view of the vats was already impressive. I myself asked myself in the first moment “All this is supposed to go out in 3 days? 18 barrels?!”. But Jens calmed me down and said that the 3 days are already generously set. I never know if everything will go smoothly and as planned, but there have been tighter, deeper cellars with smaller accesses than here. So far, our coopers have “managed” every cellar. The door to the cellar could be opened completely, although Jens and Jan removed part of the door as a precaution – and to have a little more room to maneuver. When I talk about a little more leeway, we are talking about 3-5 cm and no more! While my colleagues are preparing, getting everything ready and discussing how best to proceed, I take the first pictures of the cellar and the barrels. One obstacle that had to be overcome was the stairway to the door from which we would have to transport the barrels. A small staircase for us, but when you have to maneuver an 18 hl barrel over and through a door a few steps are not without.
My experienced colleagues, however, quickly came up with a solution for the stairs and, above all, the right tool – a lift truck or hydraulic forklift. A separate fork can be pumped up far and is designed for high loads. Thus, the barrel in the cellar can be placed on it and handed over to the forklift, which is waiting outside the door. Now it’s time for further preparation, or rather the dismantling of the drain pipes and valves. As it has to happen, there is still some kirsch in them and Jan is surprised when dismantling them. Thanks to the nice and great employees of the distillery, we have quickly organized a bucket in which we have to catch everything. Nevertheless, the delicious brandy is lost…
After the pipes are dismantled from the first barrels, our boss Markus Eder also comes by. Together Jens and Jan work on the method of cellaring while I continue to take pictures. First it was tried with a pallet, already you came on the idea that we must take up the barrels also directly and put only later on a pallet. No sooner said than done. It quickly becomes clear that two strong men like Jens and Jan are enough to cellar out the barrels, and that it goes faster than expected. At that moment we realize that for the cellaring itself only two days are needed instead of three. Since the barrels do not fit completely on one truck, I quickly called the office and informed our truck transport specialist, Erlinda, that we need a second truck the very next day. As soon as everything is settled, Markus Eder will be on his way back to the office.
I myself stayed on the spot and, apart from taking photos, added another set of eyes. Even though I’m not nearly as strong as my colleagues, I also helped to push the barrel onto the lift truck, did small auxiliary jobs like bringing material or tools and much more. In the process, I learned even more what a back-breaking job our coopers and production assistants have. I felt like I was just a drop in the bucket when I was pushing the barrels, but I hope I was able to help anyway.
After hard work and the sultry heat that came after a small thunderstorm, we managed to cellar out 14 of 18 barrels after one day!!!!! This is a very good cut and not always possible. It depends on the environment and on the barrels themselves.
After the 14 barrels, we first stowed our stuff in the barrel cellar and partly in the Sprinter. The door was reinstalled and we said goodbye to our local contact for the day. Broken and happy about the productive day we started our journey home. Fortunately, no traffic jams this time either!
Of course, the next day my colleagues cellared the remaining 4 barrels, loaded the barrels and cleaned up the cellar. As a small thank you, we also each received a bottle of a noble drop as a gift. Many thanks for that! I think I also speak for my colleagues when I say that we always enjoy tasting the products that have been stored in our barrels. There is nothing better than tasting the results of the hard work of our customers and our barrels.
I have summarized the resulting pictures of the cellaring here:
At the end, however, there is one question that everyone is asking: What happens now with the cellared barrels?
In this case I answer the question with pleasure.
The barrels get a second life:
– Repurposing: highly recommended for beer, gin, rum and more.
– Rain barrel / dip tank