On the other side of the desk

Well this is fun. No, really, it is!

I was given the chance to sit on the other side of the desk at Niagara College and teach two courses, first semester Ingredients and second semester Sensory.

Two cards, less than two years apart.
I think this was IPA day in Sensory.

I was reminded of how much I really like teaching. I wish I had more time to prepare the lessons and get marking done but am still working five days at Magnotta. I do love being back at Niagara. I keep expecting my classmates to walk around a corner though, and wish they were still around to go for beer or ice cream.

Day 332

Brew day today; 7 of us showed up. I know it’s summer and all, but I don’t get why one would bail on what is hands-down the most useful course we are taking at this point.

Aaron put together a recipe for a wheat rye beer, and we ran it on three of the pilot systems. I brewed solo on a pilot for the first time which was great until I had to take a bio break.

I had to bail at 1, as I had a meeting with Gary Torraville, the associate dean of the CWFI umbrella that the brewing program falls under. I am mostly concerned about the lack of morale among the students, and the rise in course/professor/program bashing. We are unhappy and disillusioned, and it shows. If left unchecked, it does nothing but degrade the program and our learning’s value to future employers.

I can’t say it was a great meeting, but it was a good start. My next step is to draft a document with the issues (compressed courses, assessments, course resources, etc), and attach it to a Student Issue Thingy (I forget the actual name, but basically, once this is created and signed, it must be dealt with). There are a number of changes that will likely not happen in our time here; the wheels of change at the college level move even more slowly than at the high-school level. Frustrating to say the least.


Day 8

I had only one class today, well, two really if you count the computer applications class. I finished the PowerPoint section online already and am planning on making the class only once before the test, and that’s just to make sure my login works there. I decided to ride the motorbike in for math class, exploring some new-to-me backroads. Good thing I gave myself plenty of time – my commute was almost an hour, but oh so much more enjoyable than the highway!

I ran into Rob while grabbing a much-needed coffee at the school. Rob is one of the full-time brewers in the teaching brewery. I asked him how long the porter took on the craft system; he said that Tanner finally got out of the brewery around 6:30. It seems there were a few factors that affected the slow sparge:

  • too much grain at the beginning and not enough water, making it too thick
  • adding as much water as we did later may have compacted the grains under the weight of the water
  • poor stirring – we didn’t move the grains at the bottom enough, so they bonded together
  • the dark malt might have been too old

I’m planning on going in on Friday morning to see if I can make myself useful around the brewery and learn more about the equipment. Yes, I’ve been doing home brewing like everyone else, but there’s a world of difference between a one-gallon batch and systems at the teaching brewery. I know better than to compare my experiences and knowledge with everyone else’s, but still feel like I’m coming from behind.


Days 1 & 2, and & I thank more people.

The problem with composing blog posts during my commute is that by the time I get out of the car and am able to write them down, I have forgotten at least half of what I wanted to say. I am pretty sure there is a dusty drawer somewhere in my brain’s memory banks filled with odd keys, relatives birthdays, Canadian Tire money, great ideas thought of while in the bath, milk bag clips and perfect prose written only in my head.

So of course I forgot a few people in my previous thank you post, people that I distinctly remember (now) thinking about while driving on the QEW, thinking, now don’t forget them!

  • Katherine, who helped me organize my thoughts for the portfolio portion of the application and showed me that copy editing should not be overlooked. She has also joined me many times for beer at BarHop (yay! another beer-drinking local girlfriend!) AND has brought me back some lovelies from her visits to the US.
  • Biljana, a high school science teacher and former colleague, who guided me through the minefield of Grade 12 chemistry as I tried to improve my average enough for acceptance into the course. I’m not too proud that chemistry made me cry. But Biljana demystified it time and time again, and did it while drinking beer like a boss. She is incredible.

So on to school. Days 1 and 2 are now under my belt, and frankly there is not much to report, other than HEY I’M IN BEER SCHOOL!!!!! OMFG! IT’S REALLY REAL!!!!! I’M REALLY HERE!!!!! SQUEEEEEEEE!!!!

<insert happy dance here>

We’ve had two math classes so far (ratios are fun), a computer applications class where we were introduced to the software that will teach us how to use MS Office and informed that we really only need to go to class on test days, and a communications class that looks intriguing. Notice there’s been no actual beer-related classes? They start tomorrow with Intro to Brewing. I feel like I’ve spent most of my time getting the lay of campus and getting to know my fellow beer students.

With that in mind, some of us headed to the Merchant Ale House in St. Catharines as everyone knows beer makes that getting-to-know-you phase so much less awkward. I had two of their house brews; a blueberry wheat that was a bit heavy on the blueberry for my taste, and the Old Time Hockey ale, a decent amber ale with a nice malt profile and a hint of coffee in the finish. I also had a deep-fried pickle for the first time. It was better than I expected, showing me once again that my dad was right, you never know until you try.