Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Hero’s outside the mash tun; The Drayman



Every morning at Daleside brewery, after the days brew has been set in motion, a group of men arrive at the brewery to load up their vans with casks of beer before setting of on separate adventures of delivering beer in various lands afar. As you have probably guessed, the men I am referring to are the Draymen. To many outside the trade these can be referred to as the blokes who deliver the beer, but the centuries old romantic role of the drayman (or woman) has always had a more integral role in a brewers operation than simply transporting beer. The dray person provides the essential personal interface between pub/customer and brewery (as you can guess a customers impression or relationship with a dray person affects their overall impression of the brewery). They also collect feedback from customers as well as priceless information on how the pub trade is fairing up, what beers are selling best etc. In short draymen are the arms and (in part) ears of the operation, the brewers front line, always ready to deliver the goods far and wide no matter how elaborate the rout or how many runs are needed. Draymen also bring back empty casks or collect materials or equipment when needed.


“Steady away for a Monday!”
Draymen Dave and Steve loading vans in morning.

I have often thought how pleasant it would be delivering beer whilst gently cruising across the Yorkshire countryside in a transit van. Historically, when beer was carried by horse drawn drays, draymen were entitled to a free pint of beer in each pub for delivering the goods, but this has changed alittle. Today most micro brewed beer is delivered by transit van or in some cases by car. Larger regional brewers tend to prefer the lorry. But some traditionalists such as Youngs of London or Samuel Smiths of Tadcaster have, until recently tried to keep the horse drawn dray method going. Potentially good for benefits, but I myself would probably prefer the transit van.





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What a stirling job these brave men perform in all sorts pf weather with little or no reward

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