Day 275

We looked at high gravity brewing and blending in Calculations class. There are some very real benefits to brewing a high gravity beer and blending/diluting; one “mother” beer can spawn more than one product downstream, and there are some definite financial benefits. But I can’t help feeling like it’s cheating in a way I can’t quite put my finger on.*

Ray led us through some of the things to watch for should we ever be in a position to do HG brewing:

  • weight of the extra grain needs to be under 240kg/m2,
  • higher grain bed will affect the efficiency
  • treatment of hops needs to be different to account for increased DMS and reduced extraction
  • yeast will be under increased stress and should be used for fewer generations

Correction: the right term for the dilution is debrewing. Sounds a bit less…I dunno, cheat-y*, doesn’t it?

So when one is debrewing in Canada, one needs to calculate the water to add using alcohol as the determining factor as ABV is the regulatory necessity on product labelling.

We spent the rest of the class playing with this formula:

Aa + Bb = Cc

It looks simple enough doesn’t it? But each one of those things is something different.

A is volume of concentrate
a is alcohol of concentrate
B is volume of water added
b is alcohol of water added
C is total volume produced
c is alcohol of blended product

With this we can solve the following: 75hL of concentrate in aging has an alcohol of 7.4% vol. How much bright beer can be produced at 4.5% abv.

It sounds a bit like one of those “A train leaves Pittsburgh going 125km/h” word problems I hated so much in high school.

Oh wait. It’s exactly like one of those word problems I hated so much in high school!

In order to solve for B, you have to rearrange the equation. Bb pretty much cancels itself out as the abv of water is 0, and 0 times anything is 0, so you need to change C into A + B and expand it so the whole thing looks like

Aa = Ac + Bc

Plug in the numbers and you should get B = 48.3 hL, making the total amount of beer you can package is 123. hL.

And that’s the easy question.

* I know it’s not cheating. It’s actually a pretty good business practice, especially when you are dealing with high volume and slim margins like the big guys. It’s also something that a small brewpub or microbrewery won’t need to worry about it.

Day 273

Brewhouse Calculations has been a bit of a struggle for me on a good day. It’s 1) important, 2) complex, and 3) fast, because it’s a compressed course. My poor brain is smoking from the effort most days.

But today, well, my brain is a bit sluggish. A couple of nights of sleeping poorly takes its toll quickly. As I said to one of my classmates, not enough caffeine in the world to get me through today.

Which is why I know I will have to re-read the 78 slides about losses and capacity before I can do any of the problems assigned. And I’m pretty sure I need this for my assignment.

Then Ethics. Two chapters. It really is the most painful class I have ever experienced. I somehow found myself caving in and agreeing to do two debates next week, even though my first NO was pretty emphatic. Sigh. I blame Ian. Our topics are:

  • Corporate Social Responsibility is good for business – Pro
  • Whistleblowers are heroes – Con

Have I mentioned that I have never done a debate before? EVER?

Day 269

Oof. Moving a little slow today. Volunteered at the CBA’s again last night, working at the former Maid of the Mist docks. Hornblower Cruises, who took over the company, had a tent set up where brewers drank and ate within sight of the American Falls. Pretty sweet location. I was lucky enough to get on the boat cruise at 9:30, where they get closer to the falls, and then turn so we can watch the fireworks from the river. Definitely a life-is-good moment.

Not a bad view from where I was pouring Oast House, Brimstone & Sawdust City.
Fireworks and the Canadian side from the boat.
Brewers on a boat…

Things got a tad blurry after that as we followed the brewers off the boat and to the after party at the Hard Rock. Lots of beer, food and great conversations with brewers from Newfoundland to BC made me a happy Kat last night, but a bit of a duntish one today.

But before the CBA’s was Brewhouse Calculations class. So glad it the class wasn’t today; I had a hard enough time following the calculations on predicting mash pH and volume/vessel design. I love this course; it’s probably the one I am going to get the most out of and use the most. I just wish it wasn’t a compressed course as it’s a lot of information to pack into a half a semester. We got our final project, worth 35% of our final mark. It’s HUGE, and we only have two weeks to complete it. I’m wondering how I’m going to fit in working on it on the weekend when I’m heading to Sudbury for a family pre-wedding party. Late nights on caffeine, that’s how.

We also got back our mid-term from Wednesday. I made some really dumb errors, like transposing numbers and forgetting to put the units in my answers, but I still managed a better mark than I expected.

Day 262

I’m sitting here in the school library (which is blissfully quiet-ish in the summer), trying to do a practice exam for Brewhouse Calculations class.

I am able to answer one question of out the fourteen without looking at my notes. This does not bode well for the midterm on Wednesday.

Yes, a midterm only three weeks into the semester. We have two compressed courses in the first part of it, which means I have Calculations and Ethics for 6 hours a week each. I’ll be honest, I’m struggling in Calculations (like only answering 7% of the practice exam wasn’t a clue); it’s really important, and going really fast for my middle-aged brain. Ethics is just about as tedious as it sounds; I’ve started knitting in class to try and stop from spending most of the time goofing off on the Internet.

It’s been two months since I last posted. It was stupid-crazy-busy-awful. There was Japan, then coming back from Japan early because my beloved’s Dad was hospitalized. A week of going to the hospital, then funeral arrangements, lawyers, and all the fun that comes with suddenly becoming owners of a house filled with stuff. I did get away to Sudbury to visit family (fun) and intern at Stack Brewery (educational) before classes started again.

And then classes started again. Along with the double whammy in Calculations and Ethics, there’s History, Sensory and Practical. And all the other stuff. I was going to do a massive catch-up blog post, but at the rate I’ve been able to carve out time to write, it’ll be a 6 month catch-up post not a 2 month one. So, Going to do a big picture dump and move on.

Tokyo – fake display beer on Kappabashi Street


Tokyo – Asahi Headquarters


Tokyo – Taking a break inside Asahi’s Flamme D’Or


Tokyo – from the bottle shop near the hotel


Tokyo – a blurry sentiment I can get behind


Tokyo – sunrise from our Shibuya hotel


My job at Stack for a few days – packaging their root beer and ginger ale


Sensory classes – beer and food with Chef Olson have not been bad ways to start a Monday. Charcuterie, fried foods and cheese.


Got my promo copy of Emma Christensen’s new book as a thank you for testing recipes.


Homebrew – made a big batch of wheat and split in secondary with cranberries and black currants.


The hammock is a good place for reading and sipping a radler.