Days 126 and 127

Tuesdays are going to be difficult, in that it might be difficult to motivate myself to head the half hour to school and the half hour back for one class. Especially a class that ends at 6:30. I’m telling myself I’ll head in to St. Catharines early and go to the gym.

Yeah, right. I’ll let you know how that works out. Might be helpful if I go out and buy running shoes soon.

Yesterday was the first Equipment class, and we started with electricity (AC and DC), generators and induction motors. I kinda sorta almost knew it before; now I’m really just confused. Time to take a spin through Khan Academy or How Stuff Works to fill in the blanks.

Today was the first brew day as a second semester. Today was also the day I learned to that it is important to watch the temperature when vorlaufing, as you will get a stuck sparge if it drops too low, causing the grains to gelatinize. I also learned how to fix a stuck sparge on the pilot system.

We brewed a single-grain, single hopped Irish red. The hops were a hybrid from Clear Valley Hops, and we were all encouraged to spend some time comparing it to other hop varieties. The consensus was a Saaz varietal, or another noble hop.  They have a different colour and texture to other hops, more yellow and resin-y, which we attributed to Clear Valley’s cold pelletizing process. They smelled great, lots of lemon and pepper with some resin in the backend – the beer should be lovely!


Day 42

Brewery day! I <3 Tuesdays!

It was our turn on the pilot systems, where we made a historical Czech beer called Pivo Grodziskie. It was made entirely with smoked wheat; I am intrigued by what this is going to taste like.

As well as brewing, we were putting the finishing touches on our midterm for this class where we were asked to create a Standard Operating Procedures manual for the pilot system in under 500 words. My editing skills got a real workout – my initial draft was about 1200 words. I gave up at 507 words (a copy is here if you want to see just how spare my writing can get when it has to). They said nothing about pictures, so I added one to make it easier to understand. Did I mention that we were getting marked by our peers as they use our instructions to make beer in upcoming classes? Yikes.

The unlabeled pilot system


Days 13 and 14

I’m starting to fall behind already. My blogging priorities fall somewhere after classes, assignments and work but before online PowerPoint tutorials. I’ve decided that I’m only going to write in detail about the beer classes; not even I care that much about the math or communications classes at the moment.

Monday morning means Ingredients at 8:30. In the morning. I am starting to loathe my alarm even though I really only hear it 3 mornings a week.

Back to Ingredients. More PowerPoint slides, more information about hops, focussing on growing, cultivating and breeding hops, and on hop products like pellets and extracts. I made many notes that echo what is on the PowerPoint slides as a way to focus and remember information for the test next week. That reminds me, I need to memorize these formulas for the test as we’ll have to make hop weight and IBU calculations:

  • Wg = (Vol x Cg x IBU) / (U% x AA% x 1000)
  • IBU  = (Wg x U% x AA% x 1000) / (Vol x Cg)
  • Cg = 1 + [(Gboil – 1.050)/.2]

I kind of amazes me that 1) I (mostly) know what that all means and 2) I find it fun.

The next beer-related class was Brew Day in the Brewery. Being in the brewery makes me giddy. I find myself grinning for no apparent reason and saying YAY loudly when things I do work the way they’re supposed to. The guys must think I’m a loony.

We were working on the smaller pilot systems to make a dunkelweizen in pairs or trios. We had only one small mishap, a slight boilover that happened in the 60 seconds I turned my back. Of course.




Day 10

I didn’t have to go to Intro to Brewing as they were going over SmartServe certification, which I already have. Instead, I put some insoles in my rubber boots (my feet went aaahh) and went to the brewery to see if there was anything I could do there.

Bottling. Bottling was what I could do there. From keg to bottles to box in several easy steps

  1. Grab a box of new bottles off the skid. Find out immediately that they are upside down and the tops are not sealed. First one was dodgy, but I didn’t drop any.
  2. Take ’em out of the box and stick them in the label machine one at a time.
  3. Disinfect them by spraying ozonated water in each on, then put on the rack to drip dry
  4. Put bottles in the filler, 4 at a time. Close the guards, pressurize the bottles, fill, pressurize again. Remove from the filler.
  5. Put a sanitized cap on.
  6. Wipe off bottle.
  7. Put in box. Label box with style and date.
Label, fill, cap, finished

There was more to it than just that and it’s got me thinking already of ways that it could be set up more efficiently. I will have to be shown again how to attach the keg and shown a few times how to flush and clean the filler. But honestly, I loved it, being able to hold a finished product in my hands.

We also had our first sensory evaluation class, where Ray introduced us to the 5 basic tastes (sweet, sour, salt, bitter, unami), and had us do tastings of doctored water and beer. What does it say about my taste buds that I liked the sour? Even the citric acid doctored beer tasted more appealing than the one with sugar added. Of course, the control glass was the best of all *grin.

They look so innocent.