#brewerlife update

It has been 98 days since I brewed professionally. I’ve made several home brews since being the victim of Side Launch’s restructuring, but it’s not the same. It barely scratches the itch.

35hL vs 20L

I miss it. A lot. I walk into a brewery and take a deep breath and yearn to walk up to the brew house. My fingers itch to mill, to CIP, to brew. I don’t though; it’s not my house and it’s really bad form. Plus I’ll look like a bit of a loon to those who don’t feel the same way about beer that I do.

Tomorrow though, I get to brew. I’m hoping it will lead to a job offer, but honestly, I’m more excited to work on a brewhouse again than I am nervous about a day-long interview. I’m as giddy as a child the night before Christmas. I can’t wait!

Canada Day

What brewers do on a long weekend (well this one anyway): a bit of gardening in the morning followed by an afternoon in the hammock with a good book and a beer I made.

In a not-unrelated side note, this Hibiscus Sour goes down really well on a hot sunny afternoon. And this BruMate insulated holder was worth every nickel.

Still here, mostly

I was helping to judge the Ontario Brewing Awards last month when someone asked me, “Whatever happened to HopKat?”

That’s a very good question.

I could say I’ve been busy; I have been. Since the Cask Days post, I travelled to China and Australia where I drank some very good beer, came back to a new brewing job at Side Launch in Collingwood that went so well that my beloved and I abandoned Toronto and bought a house in the country. The move went well (I managed to miss some of it while at the Canadian Brewing Awards in Halifax), but the settling in is still ongoing. I now have a beer cellar, that is actually a cellar, spiders and all.

I’ve done some judging, done some home brewing, drank a lot of good beer and some meh to crappy beer. I’ve decided to pursue National level BJCP certification, changed my mind and then changed it back again. I’ve done some pilot recipes, learned how to force-carbonate a keg, made beer I can be publicly proud of.

It’s been a good year. I’ve had two acquaintances on separate occasions remark on how happy I look. And I am happy. I seem to be in the place that suits me best. Here’s to holding on to it for as long as I can.

I love this place!

Night Shifts

I have been working since I was 16. And in those last almost-40 years of working, I have never worked shifts. Sure I’ve worked late nights in those long years of restaurant and bar service, but I have never worked actual rotating, days/afternoons/nights shifts. Until now.

Demand is such that Brunswick moved to 12-hour shifts last week. The two-week pattern goes 2 on, 2 off, 3 on, 2 off, 2 on, 3 off. I know it’s early days yet, but so far my feelings can be summed up in three words:

Not a fan.

I’m good working until about hour 10, and then it’s a hard slog to overcome tiredness. And if I don’t get enough sleep during the day, then it’s brutal. Saturday I only got 3 hours of sleep, thanks to the cats and my anxiety. I was so tired on Saturday night, I felt like I was walking underwater. It’s obvious that sleeping during the day needs more preparation than just falling into bed tired.

This is the post-work ritual that seems to work. So far.

Day-sleeping preparations

  • Shower: I’m usually sweaty during work, and hate going to sleep sticky. Loving this Bath and Body Works Lavender Chamomile body wash right now to help relax. I sometimes include a shower beer like Lug Tread or Absent Landlord; it depends on how the night shift went.
  • Eye mask: I got the kind that’s contoured over the eyes so I can open my eyes and fool my brain into thinking it’s night.
  • Ear plugs: because of course they are working on the elevators next to our unit during the day.
  • Melatonin: works well to stop my brain from being an asshole and keeping me awake by worrying about 100 things that will never happen. Finding the peppermint flavour a bit weird for an under-the-tongue dissolving pill.
  • Something relaxing to drink: I’ve found the Mother’s Little Helper tea from David’s works well, as does the Mellow Mood drinks.
  • Oatmeal: because waking up with a growling stomach after sleeping for only 3 hours is less than optimal.

Most sleep achieved thus far: 6 hours.

Catching up

It’s been a while.

I went to Hamilton yesterday to meet Renee and Robert at Merit Brewing, a new place in my old hometown. As we sat┬átalking and drinking, I wondered why I’ve stopped writing. Other than captions on Instagram or Facebook, I haven’t played with words at all. My novel is languishing, I’m carrying around a notebook that is still empty 3 months after purchasing it (except for a grocery list), and the last post here was February.

I can’t get back the time I’ve lost dicking around on social media, hitting refresh to see what I’m missing and to watch the dumpster fire that is my neighbour to the south. But I can say enough, and devote myself to things I like doing. Like writing. And making beer.

Work

Since the last time I wrote, I’ve changed jobs. I’m now at Brunswick Bierworks, a contract production facility much closer to home – I’ve exchanged the 40+ minutes on the 401/400 highways to about 10 minutes, and spend as much on gas in a month as I did in a week. I’ve got about 5-10 hours of my life back, to spend with my beloved, doing things, watching Netflix and not writing.

The new gig is mostly good – as with all jobs, there are pluses and minuses. Mostly pluses. The equipment is new, and everyone is still working the kinks out after a recent rapid expansion. We’re busy, and have just gone to 24/7 12-hour shifts. Not sure how I feel about working those kinds of hours yet….I’ll let you know.

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The oh-so-shiny Newlands 50hl system that I spend most of my time on.

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The 20hl “pilot” system. I’ve only spent 2 shifts on it so far, but enough to know it’s much more fun.

Social

It’s getting harder and harder to shake my hermit mode. Yay for being an introvert with some social anxiety! I force myself to make plans, and then force myself to not cancel at the last moment. And guess what? I have fun.

And I definitely had fun yesterday. I went to a new bar, talked to the brewer, met my friends, and drank some really good beer (the Berlinner Weisse with rhubarb syrup was delicious!). The other beers I had were very impressive, but I was disappointed that there were no dark beers on tap yet. Will definitely go back once the milkshake stout is done!

Home

Home brewing has faltered somewhat. I made a few experiments with leftover wort kits from Magnotta – a blonde ale with Escarpment Lab’s Wild Thing yeast and a brown ale with roasted hazelnuts in secondary. I was very pleased with both of them. The blonde fermented down to 1.002, but isn’t boozy or dry. It has a really ┬ánice apple / saison flavour going on that I think I’ll replicate. I used raw hazelnuts and slow roasted them as per Clayton Hoy’s tips on the GTA Brews forum. The head retention was perfect, but next time I’ll chop the nuts a bit finer to get more flavour out of them.

Right now I have a wheat beer in the fermenter that should have been bottled a week or so ago. I am not a fan of bottling day. Maybe I can convince Keith to assist tomorrow and get it out of the way.