Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Day 12: The Little Spencer That Could

I was on my own again today... WITH NO HUGE SCREWUPS!!!

It was a big confidence booster and probably helped me add some credibility with my (brew)master Steve. What was the difference you ask? Was it me saying "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." all day? No, even better and its a big deal so pay attention.

My notebook has magically been organizing my mind. I have been thinking about what I am doing, why I am doing it, and what is the correct order of things to do. Then after I do them I have been writing them down. Steve does help me out when I have questions, but it is great to write down the answers immediately so I remember!

My responsibilities today were the following:
Prep bright tank #2 to receive a transfer
Transfer the Headplant Pale Ale from fermenter #2 to BT2
Clean fermenter #2

To prep the bright tank, I had to:
clean it with hot cleaning solution
rinse it with hot water
rinse it with cold water
sanitize it
bleed in CO2
and pressurize it with CO2

To transfer the beer I had to:
trap sanitizer in the lines
drain the sludge from the racking arm
chase out the sanitizer with beer
and fill the bright tank slowly with beer while monitoring the pressure

To clean the fermenter I had to:
vent off the CO2
open and spray inside (watch out for CO2 gas... it'll get ya!)
clean once
clean again
rinse hot
rinse cold
and open it up

At the end of the day I spent 5 minutes cleaning all my tools and parts, the floors, and putting the hoses away.

Because of my magical little notebook, I could, I did, and I can! See the little guy below. I've already filled out 18 whole pages of writing... I don't think this thing is going to last long!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 11: Glossary

This Glossary of my brewery is for all of you out there who want to know what I am talking about in this blog. It is long, but worth it if you want to learn a thing or two about breweries!

First things first, let's go over (quickly) how beer is made in 10 steps:

1) Barley is converted into malt, by steeping, germinating, and kiling.
2) Malt is milled into a mash tun with hot water, this magically creates sugars!
3) The sugar water, wort, is separated from the grain, lautering, through a screen
4) The wort is boiled, hops are added
5) The wort is cooled and transferred to a fermenter
6) Yeast is added to the fermenter, eating sugar and making alcohol! Now we have beer!
7) The beer is cooled in preparation for packaging
8) The beer is transferred to a bright tank, the carbonation levels are controlled
9) The beer is transferred to kegs and served!
10) We drink!

Now is the glossary!

Malt - One of the 4 main ingredients of beer (malt, water, hops, yeast). Malt starts as barley, it is processed by steeping it in water, letting the seed germinate, and then kilning the seed to stop the growing process. All this work "tricked" the seed into creating enzymes that will eventually break down the starches stored in the endosperm of the seed into sugars!

Milling - Before malt can be used to make beer, the insides of the seeds need to be exposed so that the enzymes and starches can mix together (with the help of hot water). The malt is ground between two ridged rollers, which tear open the seeds, while leaving the husks mostly intact (there is a reason for this!).

This is the mill we use to grind the malt. The malt arrives in 55 lb. bags; we dump them into the hopper on the mill, after it is ground it is carried upstairs to a hopper above the mash tun by a conveying system (the two vertical pipes next to the mill).

Mash/Lauter Tun - Ground malt (grist) is mixed with hot water as it is added to the mash tun. In the mash tun, the mixture is homogenized, then allowed to sit for ~1 hour. During this time, the enzymes in the malt act on the starches creating sugars (yeast food!)

Lautering - When mashing is sufficiently complete, the sugar water (wort) is separated from the grain husks. Remember before I mentioned that the husks needed to be torn but remain intact after milling? The intact husk pieces form a filter bed on top of a screen which the wort percolates through. The filter bed traps even the smallest particles from traveling with the wort into the kettle.

The mash/lauter tun and grist hopper above. The door at the bottom is used to remove the used up grains after mashing is complete.

The inside of the mash/lauter tun. At the bottom are screens to help trap the larger husk particles and establish the filter bed during lautering. Also visible on the right is the mash mixture, which is a rotating paddle (of sorts) that is used to homogenize the mash before it is allowed to sit for an hour.

Wort - The sugar water the is extracted from the mashing process. This is boiled in a brew kettle to sterilize it, to help with extracting the hop oils, and for a few other super secret reasons!

Hop Pellets - Instead of adding whole leaf hops, which take up alot of space and are very messy, most brewers today use hop pellets. Whole leaf hops are pelletized to increase density, and uniformity of what is added to a boiling brew kettle. Hops add the bitterness and some aroma compounds to the beer!

Hop Pellets in my hand!

Kettle - This is where the wort is boiled (with hops) before the beer is transferred to the fermenter.

The kettle is usually positioned near the mash tun for easy transfer of the wort. It is heated by a combination of steam and natural gas!

Heat Exchanger - The heat exchanger is used to cool down the wort before it is added to the fermenter. If the wort was boiling when it was added to the fermenter it would kill the yeast!!!

The boxy thing in the middle of this picture is a plate and frame heat exchanger. Multiple thin metal plates divide hot wort and cold water. Heat is transferred through the plates from the hot wort to the cold water. In this heat exchanger hot wort can be added at near boiling temerature and comes out less than 100 degrees!

Fermenter - This is where the yeast eats the sugars in the wort to make beer! There are many different styles of fermenters, our brewery has conical fermenters which have a cone at the bottom to catch the yeast at the bottom.

The fermenter in the front of this picture (currently holding a Pale Ale) has a 10 barrel (20 keg) capacity. The larger one next to it has a 20 barrel (40 keg) capacity!

Bright Tank - Also known as a finishing tank, this is where the beer is transferred before it is packaged (kegged, canned, etc.) In this tank the correct temperature for packaging is reached, and the beer is carbonated to the correct level.

This is a 10 barrel bright tank. Cool!

Keg - Who doesn't know what this is?

You'll notice in the above picture, that there are two main sizes of kegs used. 1/2 barrels (the larger more familiar ones that hold 15.5 gallons) and 1/6 barrels (these smaller kegs in the foreground hold 5.16 gallons). In the bottom right you can see 4 hoses coming from the bottom of the bright tank. We use these hoses with the standard Sankey keg taps to fill the kegs!

Pig - A unique beer packaging solution which holds the same amount of beer that is contained in one 24-can case. The pigs are plastic, and have an expanding bladder which is inserted into them to keep a constant pressure on the beer (keeping it carbonated). They are called pigs because hey, they kinda look like them! See the picture below...

Awwww... isn't it cute!!! "That'll do pig"

Growler - Common to microbreweries, growlers are portable beer-on-the-go packages that hold one gallon of beer. It is common to stop at a brewery and buy a growler for home consumption. Lone Peak sells not only the common glass growlers but also plastic Nalgene brand ones. That way beer can be taken on hiking trips and into national parks or other places where glass is prohibited (hot tubs, ski hills, fraternity main floors...)

Definatly not as cute as a pig

CIP - "Clean-in-place" This term is not only specific to breweries but many other industries (such as the food industry). It is the process of cleaning something, while it is sitting in the same damn place! Most fermenters are cleaned using this method. Look back up at the picture of a fermenter above. On the right side of the fermenter running up and over the top is the CIP arm. The arm extends into the top and center of the vessel where it has a spray ball inside the vessel. Cleaning solution is pumped through the arm, into the vessel, through the spray ball, which sprays off the inside surfaces of the vessel. Because this is the only method used to clean most fermenters their internal surfaces have to be VERY smooth, with no cracks or crevices in the metal so everything is cleaned away.

CIP Cart - This little cart (looks like two R2-D2's with a pump in the middle) is what is used to pump the cleaning solution through the vessels.

Okay so maybe not R2-D2, but it was a good try right?

Sanatizer Bucket - All of the small parts we use in the process (for the most part) have to be sterile. If they weren't then the beer could get contaminated. After using each part it is individually sprayed, cleaned, and placed back into a sanitizing solution.

During the day I can often be seen squatting next to this darn thing putting things in or fishing them out. Be careful not to spray water into it though! The solution will have to be remade.

So that does it for the glossary. If I forgot anything or you want to know something else, please comment and I will add it in the order the request is recieved.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Day 10: The Notebook

I get more and more excited to write in this blog as the days go by. Thanks to all of you for sharing this experience with me!

The big announcement of the day: We have decided to keep Yogi (the puppy)!!! Seriously though, who didn't see that coming? Below is a picture of us at the top of Ousel Falls.

Onto the beer related content:

Today was a fun day. The morning started out as any other morning should. I really fucked up! I was supposed to hook up the CIP cart to one of our bright tanks to pre-clean it...

--- I should stop right here and notify the world that the terminology used in this blog is specific to what I am learning at the brewery I work at. There are many other ways to do things that may or may not be better and there are many other names for those things. Right or wrong, this is what I know---

... with that said, I had the wrong idea about the pre-cleaning setup. Essentially I ended up letting most of the liquid out of the CIP cart and into the lines leading to the bright tank, while the CIP cart's heating element was still on!!! Luckily, luckily, luckily, the error was caught in time and the heating element still works (for now). When I asked about the cost of replacing the element, the answer was, "you don't want to know." So I am very relieved that the thing still works.

After this mistake I have now decided to keep a notebook. There are soooooo many tasks for me to remember, with so many detail oriented steps to keep in order, I just don't think it is worth my time to "cram" them all in at once. I have a notepad that I am going to keep in my back pocket and write down what I am doing, for example: pre-clean BT2. Then I am going to write down the steps to complete the task, in order, and the things to watch out for.

The plan is for me to be able to use my tool as a way to look back and see exactly what I did so I don't mess up everytime I do something!

Inbetween my new notebook adventure and going into Bozeman to sell beer, did I mention we went into Bozeman to sell beer?, I scrubbed some floors and straighted up a bit. There definately is a magical feeling when you can put in some good hard work to make your brewery shiney!

In Bozeman we hit up the same sales formula as we did for my last sales trip, to Helena last week. This time we didn't have a distributor with us, I think this may have helped a bit. According to my (brew)master Steve, selling beer is just putting your face out there, "ya know, shaking hands and kissing babies." The highlight of the trip was stopping off at Bozeman Brewing Company.

It was a great feeling to enter the domain of another (rival) brewer while feeling welcome and kind of like we were all playing for the same team. I met some great guys over there, they were full of information! They spoke much more technically about their process than I am used to hearing. The biggest takeaway from the trip was that even after mastering one small brewery, and how it works, THERE IS ALOT TO BE LEARNED OUT THERE. I'm guessing the best way to learn it is by working with other people. I also did notice that there are more brewers working at BBC than at my LPB. I'm not sure the overall affect of this, but I am anticipating that each guy has to know ALOT and communicate ALOT ALOT with a large team because they have to work together as a team to generate a consistent product. I am looking forward to that type of atmosphere in the future someday. I bet one would learn alot.

Our canning line should be arriving anyday now (it is 7 weeks late)! I am excited to experiment and implement it into our process!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Day 9: Spencer's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day!

Although I may look happy, at the very least content, or even tolerating, in the picture below... let me assure you I am in agony!

Little did I realize that brewing a 10 bbl batch of Outlaw Amber and kegging the first half of a 20 bbl batch of Lone Peak IPA in the same day is HARDWORK!!! Worst of all, I started the day off feeling tired and out-of-it. Must be a puppy hangover; the little guy keeps me up all night. I took on the role of being a klutz because of my puppy hangover and I must have messed up everything that I did today, which got increasingly frustrating as the hours flew by. The icing on the cake was my lower back spasms which started a little after lunch and peaked during the aforementioned picture.

On the lighter side, at least I didn't have to dump a batch of beer (a brewer's worst nightmare) and after a walk with the dog this evening, I can stand up straight again!!!

On the lighter lighter side, this was by far the worst day I have had on the job so far and yet it still went by pretty quickly. I know that my mistakes have already turned into lessons. Better yet, our big push to get beer out the door for the distributors is pretty much over. Hell yeah!

I'm exhausted, I don't want to write anymore. If anyone out there has requests for content related to brewing, please ask!

I've decided that on top of a glossary of brewing terminology I am also going to write up some descriptions of the tasks we brewers do in between the well known "processes" in brewing. Stay Tuned!

Below: training in our new beer watchdog!!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Day 8: "Home Alone 4"

Thank you for asking, yes that is a Moose in my back yard!!! Yes, you are so observant, it also has a baby!!! I have been hearing Steve and Vicky (the owners of the brewery and the condo I'm living in) tell me that "the moose are everywhere, just look outside" for two weeks. Today Vicky showed up for 5 minutes and voila... A MOOSE. She is either really good at spotting meese or really lucky. Congrats to me for finally getting to see some wildlife!

One of the questions that has popped up in the comment section of this blog is "how do you actually clean kegs?"

Here is my response, and this answer not only goes for cleaning kegs, but also for cleaning bright tanks (the tanks before beer packaging), as well as any other re-usable beer containers.

1) Rinse
2) Rinse
3) Wash

4) Rinse
5) Rinse
6) Sanitize

The actual keg cleaning machine we have at Lone Peak is shown below. Luckily it has three heads instead of just one, I'm guessing that if I could only clean one keg at once the whole process would take three times as long (good thing I knew calculus so I could calculate that). What happens is I line up three kegs, scrub them on the outside and then "tap" them and flip them upside down onto the machine. You can see the tap heads going into each keg has two tubes, an inlet and an outlet. Using some valves and a sweet cadence I have memorized I can clean about 15-18 kegs and hour! Notice the comfy upside down keg in the corner next to the CO2 tank, this is where I sit during the whole process... wow is right!

So why is this post titled Home Alone 4?

Today was the first time that Steve left me alone while I had some responsibilities. He left in the middle of the IPA transfer from the fermenter to the bright tank, and I oversaw it!
Under supervision I cleaned and prepped the bright tank for beer, and finished kegging the Hopfest '09! I am a dynamo!

Tomorrow is going to be a long day:
1) Brew the Outlaw Amber
2) Keg the IPA (I'm in charge of this)
3) Clean the bright tank
4) Clean a fermenter
5) Prep the order for the distributor

Again, this weekend I will be making a glossary of beer terms for all of you. So far I need to explain: growler, pig, and bright tank. Any more requests?

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Day 7: Puppy Sitting and Kegging!

Kelly and I inherited a 3 month old puppy (temporarily)! The owners of the brewery (Steve and Vicky) recently bred and sold a litter of chocolate lab puppies. Today, Vicky received a phone call that one of the puppies was coming back. It turns out that the couple who adopted him has a 4 year-old grandson that is a little too small to be rough-housing with a growing puppy! Vicky asked if Kelly and I could run Puppy Boarding School for a while; of course I said yeah!!!!

We already took him on a walk at the base of Lone Mountain. He knows how to sit, stay (sort of), and he is decent at heeling. Now he is on the floor all tuckered out, laying against my leg.

Onto the beer! I kegged today for the first time. I have been told by my (brew)master Steve, see picture below, that packaging is the MOST important step in the brewing process. In practice, it is true that every step is the MOST important step in the brewing process. The point of saying that packaging is reminds one not to slack when packaging beer. "You can make the best beer in the world, but if you put it in a dirty keg, it is going to taste like shit."

Fostering this mindset, I am learning to be meticulous in every detail of keg cleaning, tank cleaning, beer transfer, and keg filling. This part of the process is actually quite challenging as well. Keeping track of all the hoses and valves while trying to save every last drop is a great game. For example, we had Steve 15 feet in the air today on a ladder with a hose. This hose happened to be filled with good beer that we wanted to transfer into the bright tank, and the only way to get at it was using a combination of pressurized CO2 and our friend Mr. Gravity.

Hopefully in the next month or so I will be able to complete these tasks unsupervised. For now, I am having fun learning and working as a team.

Soon to come for the beer-illiterate... a glossary of terms!!! Stay tuned, hopefully I will have it finished this weekend.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Day 6: The Tale of Lone Peak Brewery (and me)

First off, thanks to everyone who has been reading this blog! I would love to hear your comments and feedback. Many of you have been wondering, how the hell did I end up in Montana at Lone Peak Brewery? I skipped over this story completely in my first blog post, well here is the rest of it.

I left off, sitting in a cube, at a chemical process equipment company in Minneapolis. Cube life just isn't for me. I don't have anything bad to say about the company or industry I was in, I just knew from day one that I was destined for a different path. Now, I had been trying to find a brewing job since I graduated college. "Come on," I thought, "I have a ChemE degree from the U of M! Getting a job in the brewing industry should be easy." Boy was I wrong!

My first applications went out to Miller, Coors, A-B, and Sam Adams. All online applications. Here is advice for anyone who applies for jobs online, it is a waste of time. I never heard back from any of them. Even with a contact at Miller Brewery, I never could get near the door. Soon I decided that networking was the only way I could pull off getting a job. Who the hell do I network with? I don't know anyone in the industry... ANYONE.

By now, I had discovered a website, www.probrewer.com. ProBrewer is a GREAT resource for the brewing industry and finding job posting. I started applying for every job posting that I found. I only got back a few responses from my resumes and cover letters. Most of them telling me "you don't have enough experience" (it seems the standard request is 3-5 years experience). That is a bullshit request! At least for the dedicated and determined!

So now was the time to start hitting up the local beer scene, and hitting it hard. I emailed every local brewer and brewery owner that I could. What did I ask for? Advice, lunch, a brew day, anything to teach me more. I joined the BeerAdvocate community. I started showing up to beer events. While at the events I made it a point to introduce myself to everyone who would look at me, salesmen, brewers, owners, supporters, distributors, even random bar patrons. Soon I found myself emailing with beer reps; I got to spend a day brewing at Tyranena; I sat down to lunch with the CEO of JJ Taylor and the owner of Summit Brewery. The only reason any of these people helped me was because I asked for help. I got some great advice and great perspectives on the industry, but still not the big break that I had been looking for. I had an idea how to open the door though.

My next plan was brewing school. I have been accepted to the Master Brewer's Program at UC Davis and for a Master's Degree in Brewing and Distilling at Heriot-Watt University. My plan was to attend one of these programs when my time (and money) permitted, I would use my brewing education as the key to open the door!

Now it was March, 2009. I was in Big Sky, Montana, with my girlfriend Kelly and her family on a ski trip. Thankfully I was fortunate enough to tear apart my ACL doing karate a few months earlier and couldn't ski. So what else is there to do in a ski town? It so happens that there is a brewery in Big Sky, Lone Peak Brewery to be exact. I had actually found a job posting on ProBrewer for Lone Peak a year before: "Small craft brewery, located in ski town, mountainside condo provided..." Are you kidding me? I couldn't even describe my dream job better. Too bad that Steve, the owner of the brewery wrote me an email saying that I was not experienced enough (or so he thought).

Back to the story, I couldn't ski, so I used my talents for talking to people, networking, asking for things, and I went to the brewery and asked to meet the owner. We had a beer together. I introduced myself as an aspiring brewer and I asked him if I could spend the day making beer with him later that week. He thought it was a great idea and loved to help me learn a little about my future job and accepted.

It was Thursday, Kelly's family was on the mountain, and I showed up to the brewery at 10AM to make a batch of Hopfest '09. It is hard for me to explain exactly what happened that day. I can't say that I did anything extraordinary. All I did was show up, be myself, and work hard. What happened at the end of the day was a miracle though. Steve asked me "So, what do you think about coming back here in the summer to brew with me?" I WAS FINALLY IN! I FINALLY HAD MY FOOT IN THE DOOR! (This is by far the hardest part for this industry)

Here I am! I'm at my ultimate dream job (for now at least). How did I get here? I had the confidence to network and talk to anyone who was remotely related to my dream job. Sometimes I would find myself sitting at a table with beer salesmen and distributors who I had nothing in common with and knew noone, Akward! Sometimes I was told I was a waste of someone else's time. Sometimes I was laughed at. I never let any of that get me down.

Right now I am writing this story because this is the story that I wish I could have been reading for the last two years while I was doing my searching.

Skoal, Prosit, and Cheers to the confidence to never give up!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Day Off: Life in the Clouds!

This is the view entering the mountain village where we live in Big Sky. The elevation of our condo is just over 7,000 ft. The other day we found out that we are actually living in heaven, in the clouds, and it actually isn't as cool as we thought. Regard "Exhibit B" below: same picture, same view, can't even see the lake!!!

This weekend was amazing! Friday night I went to the Wild West Saloon in West Yellowstone, BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD!!! (and the crust is made with Lone Peak Outlaw Amber) On the drive home, we saw tons and tons and tons of Elk as we drove through Yellowstone National Park.

Saturday was a busy day, in the morning a few of us hiked up Beehive Basin in Big Sky. There are some amazing views and amazing houses up there. No animal sightings, but great conversation with Pastor Doug and Kelly's boss Jeff. We didn't make it up to the top of the hike due to snow, but it was a great time. In the evening Kelly and I went out to Ted's Montana Grill in Bozeman. Delicious food, great service, and a gift certificate paid!!!

Sunday was filled with aminals, on the morning drive to Bozeman, Kelly and I saw a black bear eating a roadkill'd dear (our first "bear jam" of the day). Later on we ended up in Yellowstone National Park. We saw numerous buffalo, elk, and bears, as well as a fox and a few other critters. Too bad we haven't seen a Bull Moose yet. Anyone know where they hide?

What does this post have to do with beer? Everything. We drank our Lone Peak beer friday night at the grand re-opening of the Wild West Saloon. We were there to represent ourselves. On Saturday as we wine'd and dine'd we made some good contacts at Ted's and will be talking to them soon about carrying Lone Peak. And, on Sunday, we brought along a special Nalgene growler of Hellroaring ESB and sipped on it as we hiked around the park!

Working in a brewery is the best job in the world. I can work while I'm having fun, and while I'm having fun I can enjoy what I did at work!

This week: let's take a day off with the boss and go rafting?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Day 5: Week one is finally over!!!

Today was the culmination of all of the hard work that I have put in this week.  Like I said before, the art of brewing is just a completing a series of tasks over and over and over again.  The challenge is doing them precisely the same way every time!  I have been getting better at these little tasks and was "put to the test" this afternoon.  No longer was I being walked through the tasks, I was asked to perform them.  

I'm exhausted, this has been a fulfilling but tiring week.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Day 4: Sell the damn thang!

Today I journeyed to Helena, the capitol of Montana, to sell our delicious brews. Arriving at Lone Peak Brewery at 7 in the AM, I had absolutely no idea what to expect. By the end of the day, it was exactly what I expected it would be! (weird how that works out huh?)

Sales has always been and always will be about selling yourself. Stepping into the realm of a distributor, our first stop of the day, is like entering another world. I know not all distributors are the same, but the one we visited, and probably MOST out there, are dedicated to their BMC’s (Bud, Miller, Coors). Selling BMC, also as most know, is not about selling taste. It isn’t about selling a product that offers “more” than the competitor’s product. They are all selling the same damn thing, the same damn widget. How do they achieve selling these unexciting widgets day after day, year after year? Selling themselves.

So how is this different when selling craft beer? Now, after I sell myself, there is something delicious to back it up! Selling beer is incredibly easy, as long as you are confident, outgoing, and the salesmen you are with (from the distributor) have a good rapport with the establishments you attend.

I know this is a very over simplified view of how selling beer really is. There are many levels of complexity that exist. The most important step though, before even getting deep into the complex part, is getting the handshake commitment. How does that happen? Through the three things I listed above.

Tonight I got to go home with four half-growlers of Lone Peak Beer. I’ve split the first two with Kelly before writing this, and I have two more to go! I feel great, it is beautiful outside, and hopefully I’ll see a moose soon!

Tomorrow: Brewing an IPA, cleaning a tank, and showing up to a beer premier (rhymes) in West Yellowstone!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Day 3: I love lamp... I mean life

I am truly so so so sorry to my dedicated fans that I did not post yesterday! I came home from a 10 hour day that included cleaning draft lines, cleaning kegs, harvesting yeast, cleaning floors, and more stuff that I forgot. I was so exhausted that I got all tuckered out (Kelly thinks it is adorable when I am that tired) and fell asleep by 9:30 p.m.

Today was an amazing day! The drive down the mountain was an eyeopener to say the least. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping (still no damn moose yet), I
am still overwhelmed by the unspoiled beauty of this place. During a morning of keg cleaning and helping brew a batch of Belgian Wit I found myself randomly smiling for the first time in a few days. I felt grateful and eternally happy for the opportunity that I have. It might have helped that the whole time Steve and I were rocking out to the Sirius rock station. During the afternoon we had some "bumps" in the brewing process, nothing a little troubleshooting couldn't solve

I learn so much about working in and running a brewery everyday.
- You are subjected to the will of the mighty distributor, you need to keep up and provide the beer to them, or they get mad.
- Scheduling is huge, and not just when to make the beer, but when to transfer it, finish it, package it...
- You also have to schedule clean the brewhouse, fermenters, bright tanks, and kegs/pigs/bottles/cans.
- Everything that needs to be done in a brewery, whether cleaning a tube, or boiling a kettle, is equally important
- Each task needs to be perfected, there is always the proper order
of things to do, if you mess it up, you mess up the beer
- Cleaning/Sterilizing is a way of life and a mindset
- The jobs are repetitive, make them fun!

For all you visual people out there, here are some pictures of where I spend all my time now:

This is the back, showing some conical fermenters on the right, a clean/sanitize cart in front, a bright tank in back, and the keg washer in the back left corner

Here is a view from the front of the brewery looking back, the tank on the right is the hot liquor (water) tank, and then there are some conical fermenters!

Here is the almighty brewhaus! Through the windows is the tap room portion of the brewery, on the left is the mash/lauter tun, on the right is the kettle.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Day 1: Now Officially a Brewer!

See Above: When I was a home brewer, it was a much simpler time.

On the bottom, you can see me "racking" a particularly astounding oatmeal stout. Cleanup time: 10 - 15 minutes.

On the top, you can see the 50 or so "pigs" that I had the fortune of cleaning today. Cleanup time: 3 hours.

Today was my first day as a brewer at Lone Peak Brewery. Here is today's lesson: professional brewing and home brewing are VERY VERY DIFFERENT. They are worlds apart in fact. One is a job and one is a hobby. Can anyone tell me a hobby they have that entails a 9 hour day of repetitive tasks and heavy lifting? Here is my advice to you "aspiring brewers" who have tons of home brewing experience. Go spend a day at a brewery. When you are there make sure you stay from the heating of the hot liquor tank, to the cleaning of the kettle and lauter tun.

I don't want to paint a negative picture about today. I had an incredible day. It was filled with hard work, learning, the smell of beer brewing, and ended with a huge sense of self satisfaction. I am excitedly looking forward to my future in this industry. For the time being, I am going to have to work hard learning the ropes, and hopefully have a little fun in the process.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Testing, Testing, 1, 2, 3...

Commencement, The beginning of the tail.

How coincidental! The first fuzzy animal that Kelly (my lovely beautiful lady) and I spotted in Montana was a Gopher! Too bad he wasn't as friendly as our mascot back home, Goldy Gopher.

The background on me (and Kelly) leading up to this spotting goes like this:

Kelly gave me her phone number while we were attending the University of Minnesota, and more specifically at Burrito Loco, one of the best burrito, quesadilla, and nacho places in the entire world. After that dating ensued. Then I graduated and used my Chemical Engineering degree for it's intended purpose, becoming and engineer. I got bored! Very Very Bored! I wanted to switch it up, I decided to follow my dream of being a brewer.

(stay tuned for this part of the story!)

Fast forward a few months, and here I am! Living in a mountainside condo with my girl, making beer, and having the time of my life!!!

We are still keeping our eyes peeled for meese (plural of moose) and bears. Hopefully I can post some pictures of them soon!

In the future, I will actually be focusing this blog on my journey in the brewing world. I will tell of my successes and mistakes, my learnings and teachings, my insights and overlooks, etc. It will be a work in progess!

Thanks for reading!