A few years ago I wrote about my experiences with Global Polymer Solutions from late 2010 to mid 2011 and what an utter shambles their service was as a warning to brewers who might be thinking about purchasing casks from them. Much to their annoyance that post has sat as the second hit in a google search for their company ever since. I know it annoys them because they took the time to track me down and phone me at work. They asked, very politely, if I'd consider removing it from this blog as they feel it's costing them sales and damaging their reputation. They even sent me a free box of shives to use in the casks of theirs that we still own.
Last year we were approached by a local producer asking if we had any spare casks they might borrow as they didn't have enough. As our GPS casks were just gathering dust and taking up space in the brewery we agreed that they could use them along with our complimentary box of shives, a shive tool, and a torque wrench. Those friends of ours are not exactly pleased with the casks because, as you can see from the picture above, the shive closure has started to leak under pressure. We checked with them that they closed them to the spec supplied by GPS and, it seems, they've done everything correctly. Not all casks are leaking but, as I've seen personally, at least 20% have failed to fully contain the contents.
Fast forward another few months and a number of emails sent to the address in the sidebar, detailing the problems other brewers are having with GPS, have dropped into my inbox. One is a plea from a brewer, broadcast to their network of peers, in Feb 2014 who is desperately trying to contact GPS about their failure to deliver casks that were paid for up front. That brewer said
I have attempted to contact them for the past two months for delivery of a back order and have not received one single call back from more that 50 voice messages I have left.The reply that was sent back to them by one respondent was, as is often the case, one of shared pain and a 'we now use Brewery Plastics and they're not as bad as some people tell you'.
I have also spoken to one local peer who, when GPS failed to deliver within the promised window earlier this year, was forced to seek casks from elsewhere and is, as far as I know, still trying to get his money returned.
Then there are communications from brewers who've tried to build a cask population around GPS casks who have encountered the same shive problems as shown in the photo. GPS even admit there is a flaw in their product design
The conclusion being that if the threads are undersize the flats make matters worse. Added to which, if the flats line up at 90 degrees to the mould part line, the possibility of failure is greater.and that they have been experiencing quality control issues
shives had excess flash on the mould parting line in the gasket seating area. This, in combination with a slightly softer gasket than normal, meant that as the gasket was tightened, the flash dug into the gasket not allowing it to move at that point. As the shive was tightened further, with no adjustment/movement possible, the gasket rucked up creating a leak path.which could further exacerbate the problems of leakage. Did they recall the faulty shives? Did they warn their customers that there might be a problem? Have they implemented a rigorous quality control program so they can ensure the shives they supply will work with the casks they supply? It doesn't seem that way. If anything their response seems to be complete indifference.
I'd never be so bold as to tell you what to do but, before you make your decision over which casks to purchase, I would strongly recommend you talk to people you know who have had dealings with GPS. It might just save you from the troubles that many others have faced.