The mission: Cooper for a day.
The who: Garrett and Toddy.
The why: Garrett and Toddy will be running the new Newport Public House.
The situation: Toddy’s first day at 4Pines and the apocalypse just hit SA.
Wait, what’s a cooper? It’s one better than a hooper, it’s an ancient art form, a trade and the people who do it are heroes worthy of all our praise. Without them we wouldn’t have some of the most amazing things that we liquid aficionados appreciate the most. Read more about it here (wiki link).
So, to the story. It was Toddy’s first day at 4Pines. They landed in Adelaide and were met by the storm of the century in SA. Through some miracle they arrived at Seppeltsfield Cooperage in one piece after driving through a literal white squall. Once there they were met by a man who started feeding them the most exquisite ports in all the land. No seriously, Seppeltsfield has the worlds oldest consecutive collection of ports, the first of which is from 1878. The guys got to have a crack at some century old port, which coincidentally must have been the last time they had a storm like this. Garrett got goose bumps as the taste of the port beleaguered his gustatory perception. True bliss.
Next they met the legendary cooper Andrew Young. A cooper that was commissioned to make barrels for the royal family. Apparently if you’re in the barrel business, you will have heard of him. He got them straight to work even though it was cold outside, the wind was howling and the world was flooding around them; but they didn’t care. They were here to learn damn it.
They got started picking out the pieces of oak (staves) that they were going to use. The place is chockers with both pre-owned broken down staves and new dried oak. The unused oak is a supply of oak that has followed Andrew around his entire coopering career, so it’s a big stash. The used staves are stacked neatly to keep them dry and there’s enough there to fill a warehouse.
Once they had their pieces they started shaping them, then piecing them together starting with the 4 thickest staves, adding more staves, the head and then the hoops then steaming & toasting the barrels as they fit the hoops.
Garretts main mission was to learn how to properly care for barrels, casks and foeders ..and maybe the occasional bucket, tub, butter churn, hogshead, firkin, tierce, rundlet, puncheon, pipe, tun, butt, pin or breaker. But the guys learnt a lot more than they had hoped for so if you come by Newport Public House for a barrel aged beer, be sure to quiz them!
The boys posing with the oldest barrel in the collection.
The worlds oldest consecutive port collection.
The restaurant under the port collection at Seppeltsfield.
The beginnings of a barrel. Starting with the thickest pieces.
Steaming and fitting.
Toddy going hell for leather.
Andrew Young unleashing hell.
The branding iron.
Garrett branding his barrel.
Garrett copping a face full.
The first romantic night at Penfolds with no power.