Semester 1 Wrap Up

I suppose that I should finish writing about the old, first semester before talking about the new shiny second semester.

General Education Courses:

Communications
I could have done better in this, but technical issues during my final assignment made me crazy. 90 is still pretty respectable though. The textbook was only referenced once or twice, and even then it was not critical information. Happy I was able to sell it back to the bookstore.

Computer Applications
No, I didn’t ace this, but came close. The way the software is set up, you have to use a specific method to complete a task. I decided to skip a few questions on the tests rather than invest a lot of effort into learning another way to do things.

Math of Finance
Good class on problem solving and how to use a business calculator to do the heavy lifting. Nestor was a great teacher, engaging and passionate about his subject.

Brewmaster Specific Courses

Ingredients
I did not do well in this course (by my personal standards), and failed the final exam in spite of working my ass off to create study notes and flash cards, and studying in every spare moment. I ended up with a 70. I loved the content, and learned a lot, but if there was ever a course that needed a text book for reference and self-learning, this is it. There is nothing I can write about the teaching style and assessment methods that won’t sound like a petulant teenager unhappy about her grade, so I’ll just leave it by saying that as an educator for over decade, I had issues with how the information was disseminated and how the learning was evaluated. Moving on.

Sensory
One of the most useful courses. I joked with my friends about how it doesn’t suck to have to drink beer in class, which is true. It also didn’t suck to begin to build up a taste vocabulary, to taste the differences between the hops, between malts, to begin to understand and play with flavours. I loved the experimentation with spices and fruit, and the assignment on how to add different elements to beer was interesting and informative (except for the part where I ruined a pot when I let the star anise mixture boil away. Oops.)

Introduction to Brewing
Class time was used to host a variety of guest speakers from various breweries and supporting industries, which was invaluable in terms of getting real information and advice. The assessments were based on readings from the textbooks, and were a bit vague when compared to what I had to complete for every assignment. I did well on them as soon as I stopped stressing out and second-guessing what the prof wanted, and just wrote something. Some of my classmates thought the recommended textbooks “near useless”, but I found them be full of good information in an easily-accessible question-and-answer format.

Basic Practical Brewing
Loved, loved, loved this. What’s not to love about spending a full day in the teaching brewery, learning and using the equipment to make beer? Sure, there are crap jobs to do, but honestly, you don’t mind keg-washing and being sprayed with beer after about the 10th time *grin. Seriously, hands-on is the best way I learn, and this was all about being hands-on. Lots of opportunity to ask questions of guest brewers, and the staff brewers, Rob and Tanner, are amazing. The written assessments feel like a bit of an afterthought, but still relevant and useful.

Day 90 and Beer Advent Calendar Day 1

It was supposed to be Ingredients class first thing today, but this happened:

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Old busted.

Which meant that instead of Ingredients, Comm, Math and then work, I got to meet a very nice tow truck driver, take the train in to Toronto, meet my beloved and go shopping for this:

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New hotness.

I pick it up on Saturday. I am now more of a broke student than I was before, but at least this one won’t blow upon the Garden City Skyway.

Note: It didn’t so much blow up, as make an increasingly loud noise, like someone was shaking a spray paint can near my ear, then suddenly make a loud THWAP noise that was echoed a bit as something that wasn’t supposed to come loose, did. At least the noise stopped as I coasted down the other side of the bridge.


Today is the first day of the beer advent calendar, and I am so very glad I did this. I needed a nice surprise.

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Day 1

This Mikkeller K:rlek Pale Ale pours a nice hazy sunny-gold, with a great tropical aroma of pineapple and lemons. There’s more citrus and some mango in the taste, followed by a slight sour tang that morphs into a lingering hop bitterness at the back of the tongue.

It makes me think of a warm summer day, which is not a bad way to end today.

Day 83 – Monday, Nov. 23

No teacher in Ingredients today, so we were spared the usual death by powerpoint. Instead, Kevin had arranged for Sam Corbeil of Sawdust City to come in and talk to us about brewery start ups and building renovations. He is a great storyteller, although some of his stories have me dreading ever dealing with the bureaucratic behemoth that is the LCBO.

Days 55 to 59

The week ran away without me again, what can I say. It wasn’t helped by being sick on Thursday and then having to get an emergency root canal on Friday. Yay.

Day 55

Ingredients class, and the dreaded mid-term. Other than the fact that I think I passed, I have no idea how I did. I did well on the multiple choice (I <3 multiple choice!) and short answer questions (I think), but there was a bit of a curveball in one section with hop analysis that could go either way. I could look it up to check, but am operating in ignorance is bliss mode.

There was still an hour left of the class after the mid-term, and Kevin began the unit on barley by identifying the various parts of the barley kernel.

Day 56

I spent the day on the craft side of the brewery, the first time since the first class. Jamie Shillow was in making her red ale, and I was able to help the process by stirring, moving hoses and valves, and mucking out the spent grain. There is quite a bit of wait time in the process, and I asked a tonne of questions.

Day 59

I was still feeling the effects of the ick that made me stay in bed the day before,making me a bit slow to get Intro. But I made sure to take lots of notes as the guest speaker was Paddy (sp) from PCM to talk about equipment and food-grade stainless steel. This apparently will be critical to know for the final assignment which is to plan and layout a brewery on paper based on certain parameters.

After Intro was Sensory. We got our mid-terms back (did better than I expected, insert rejoicing here), and we spent the first part of class going over them. Then we moved on to talk about sugars in malt, and got everything set up to brew malts in french presses for sensory evaluation. Unfortunately by this time, my molar was giving me major attitude, and I spent the break calling around to find a dentist still open somewhere between the school and Toronto. Luckily I found one, but it meant I had to bail on the rest of the class. I’m glad I did; I don’t think I could have lasted much longer at that rate. Nothing says fun Friday night like an expensive emergency dental visit. Sigh.

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.

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