Friday, July 31, 2009

Day 34: Aspiring Brewer(s) #3

Here is the final installment of my "tales of the aspiring brewers" This one came from a couple, Steph and Tim, who sound like they are truly going to go far in this industry...

Hi! I love your blog! Thought I'd respond to your request for stories about people who want to "go pro."

My husband Tim and I are both currently engineers. He's a mechanical engineer and I'm a software engineer. Neither of us like doing this *at all*. We've been homebrewers for about 3 years now, and are totally obsessed. We brew about once a week (though sometimes we do skip a week).

Our goal is to open a brewpub sometime within the next 10 years (we're only 25 right now, so we've got some time). Tim will be the head brewer, and I'll be sort of running the show for the rest of the restaurant, while continuing to brew pilot batches with Tim.

To prepare for this massive undertaking, we're of course writing a business plan, and just sort of hashing out ideas for it. We plan to go to brewing school within the next couple years, and are hoping to get some volunteer experience at a local brewery. Oh yeah, and we brew *a lot*. We're constantly working on perfecting our recipes for our future brewpub.

So, why do we want to do this? Well, we both want to own our own business for starters. But it's mostly because we just really want to brew beer every single day of our lives. It's our passion, and it's the reason we get out of bed every morning, spend 8 hours at a boring, unfulfilling job, then come home to attend to our various fermenters. We can't wait to make brewing our career!

If you're interested, I'm a blogger as well. My blog is called (I'm also really into food). Take care, and keep having fun brewing!

Update: Yesterday afternoon, Tim and I received our acceptance letters to the American Brewers Guild! We'll be starting the Intensive Brewing Science & Engineering program in January 2011. We'll graduate in July 2011, after spending a week at a brewery in Sacramento gaining some practical experience! We're extremely excited to attend brewing school, can't wait until 2011!

Congrats on the acceptance to both of you!!!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Day 33: Aspiring Brewer #2

Here is another wonderful, whimsical tale of a young man and his endeavors to enter the craft brewing world... in Philly!

My name is Andrew Riggar and I am an avid homebrewer and a passionate beer enthusiast. Currently I'm chasing my dream of becoming a professional brewer and to ultimately launch my own craft brewery. For the last two months, my dream has been sort of a wild goose chase. I just graduated college from Temple University in Philly and am unemployed- more time to homebrew! However, now that I've gotten school out of the way I can focus on what really matters to me: applying to UC-Davis Professional Brewers Certification program. Fortunately I satisfied the bulk of my prerequisite courses at Temple, but was one shy; I need to take Organic chem. So it's back to school for one class in the fall. Once I finish this course, then a major step will have been taken thus letting me finally send in my application!

I want to become a pro-brewer for too many reasons... the more the merrier, right? Said simply; I love craft beer, I love brewing it, and I love learning about it... hell, I even like the cleaning/sanitizing! Each batch of beer that I brew is a product of what I've learned, what I've thought about, and how dedicated I can be. Having such a lovable and thoroughly enjoyable hobby has been what's made me realize that it's my dream. And as you are well aware of, having a dream is a special thing. I've always known that I'm not the desk job type so discovering a dream has been very motivational for me.

What I'm up to now is a whole heck of a lot of homebrewing, reading, and preparation. The nice thing about brewing this summer is that it's in preparation for a regional contest at the end of August. I plan on having about 12-14 entries! I've been reading basically everything I can about brewing and the beer industry. I just finished Sam Calagione's book Brewing Up a Business and now I'm onto Beer School by the guys from Brooklyn Brewery. Not to mention all the articles and such on (my user name is ajr24 fyi). Reading about other commercial ventures is just as important to me as the technical and brewing stuff.

ALSO, once I'm done writing this e-mail I'm going to a local brewpub (Rock Bottom... it's a chain) to confirm my "play date" with their brewmaster tomorrow. I'm extremely excited to see/feel hands-on the transition from homebrewing to industrial brewing. From reading your blog, I actually feel tons more comfortable with how some smaller scale brewhouses work... well your blog has desensitized me to some terminology. But tomorrow will be my very first experience. I can't wait! Tours of breweries are great, but actually getting to work in one will be all the more valuable.

The amount of integrity and the will to help others out in this industry will never cease to amaze me.

Once I graduate from UC-Davis I would love to contribute to the diverse beer scene in Philadelphia. Currently Philly is experiencing a huge revitalization of its rich beer past. Being a part of that is what I'd love to do. It's the city that made me the beer lover that I am and I'm grateful for it. I've been toying with the idea of creating a Philadelphia Hop Estate in which local brewpubs/breweries can grow/harvest hops- most likely outside of the city. Land outside Philly is pretty cheap at the moment so... I think it's doable.

Here is a quick followup to the story... The Rock Bottom brew date didn't actually work out : ( Andrew is maintaining contact with the brewmaster and working on setting up another day!

Comments? Thoughts? Questions? What are you drinking right now?

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 32: Aspiring Brewer #1

The following story was sent to me last week from a good friend of mine. He is a very intelligent and driven individual, I know that he is going to go far someday. Here we go:

"I thought I'd write a little about my path towards becoming a professional brewer even though it is just beginning. When I was a sophomore in college at the University of Wisconsin, my mom thought it would be fun to give me a basic home-brewing kit for Christmas. It was essentially a fermentation bucket, a bottling bucket, a racking cane, some airlocks, and some tubing. I quickly brewed up my first batch and let it sit for a month after fermentation. When I opened it up and shared it with my roommates, I was suddenly the most popular guy around. It was fantastic. Since then, I have read every book on brewing I could get my hands on, bought more elaborate equipment, made far more complex beers, and entertained the idea of becoming a brewer as a profession.

During the time I was practicing home-brewing, I gained major respect and love for craft beer. After having some Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA it was settled, I wanted to be a professional brewer. Since I am a film major, I didn't have any real marketable brewing-related education so I decided to take an online Siebel course on brewing. It was great. I sat down, worked for hours on a resume, and sent it to about 10 Wisconsin breweries in search for a summer apprenticeship. Even after calling the breweries for a follow up, I was still getting no response, until finally I got a call from a small brewpub in the Dells who wanted me to come in for an interview for a summer assistant brewer position. The interview went well, but unfortunately I didn't get the job.

I ended up realizing my dreams of being an apprentice brewer for the summer were dashed so I enrolled in summer school to finish off my remaining 9 credits. In mid-September I start the Siebel Master Brewers course. The class starts with one and a half months of theory in Chicago then I'm shipped off to Munich to study brewing practice for another month and a half. I then have a break until June 2010 when I go back to Munich for the 6-week Advanced Applied Brewing Techniques course. During those weeks, I get to work on every step of the brewing process and I get to brew my own beer from conception of the recipe through the packaging and consuming of the product.

I can't be more excited for this coming year, and I hope that this education will help me to find a position in the craft beer industry."

Let's have a discussion! Comments? Questions?

Monday, July 27, 2009


The life of a brewer is damn fun! Really really damn fun!

Should I start with the Bitterroot Beer Festival or my day today? Let's go backwards in time!!!

I'm drinking a DogFishHead World Wide Stout and writing in my blog... feeling great!
I ate some dinner with Kelly at the brewery... chili cheese waffle fries and some Hellroaring ESB
I weighed out the "all-natural" ingredients for a quadruple batch of TJ's Old Fashioned Root Beer
I ran with Steve to the compost facility to dump our week old spent grains... smelly!!! (I really hope the farmers come and pick up the next load)
I cleaned 21 half barrel kegs and 2 sixth barrel kegs... right when I finished and dumped my cleaning solution I found 5 more dirties downstairs... whoops and damnit
I ate a hot dog and some carrots for lunch
I showed up for work at 1 o'clock
I spent the morning WHITE WATER RAFTING down the Gallatin River! Such a great time! The rapids are pretty weak in most parts of the river this time of year, but that was okay because we had TJ, Steve and Vicky's 6 year old daughter with us on the river. We didn't want her falling out of the boat now! I also got to plan a trip near the end of August... here are the details: we are running a ~20 mile stretch of Beartrap Canyon, Class 4 and 5 rapids near the bottom, world class brown trout fly fishing near the top, oh yeah and we can bring beer! Who could ask for more in a day?

Now onto the Bitterroot Beer Festival! Kelly, Steve, TJ and I pulled out from Big Sky at 8:04 AM on Saturday morning. We ventured about 4 hours west and north through Missoula, MT to Hamilton, MT for the festival. On the way we stopped off at Kettle House Brewery (they make a delic Scotch Style Ale called Coldsmoke!) Tim from Kettle House showed us his new facility which is located in a restored train station. It was beautiful! I am definately jealous of parts of their setup, but from what we heard he for sure has his own set of difficulties in his process. No brewery works perfectly!

We arrived at the festival "late" or so we thought. We were asked to show up at 12:30... that would have been a huge waste of time! The festival started at 3:00 PM, we showed up at 2:30 and finished our setup in 17 minutes flat. There was somewhere around 15 breweries with over 40 beers there. We were in a tent in the middle of a blocked off street. At first the festival started out slow, but by the end of the evening I saw wristband #2000 floating around... it was packed!!!

Beer festivals are probably my favorite part of working in this industry. The main reason for this is that the people who show up at the festivals are very very open to trying beers they normally wouldn't try. Before serving our beer, people usually ask things like:

"What is your lightest beer?"
"Do you have (bud, miller, coors...)?"
"I've never had that style before, will I like it?"
"What is your best beer?"

These people obviously don't have much experience with craft beer. Usually after they try our beer, 99% of the time they say "Wow, that is so good! I never expected that!" I can witness the enlightenment of newly converted craft beer drinkers! Some of the other breweries brought silly "crowd pleasing" beers that are light and fruity and unappetizing (to me). They miss out on this opportunity! Who has fun serving beer like that? Your customer doesn't learn anything knew and you certainly miss out on the experience of helping them learn more! We brought our Lone Peak IPA and our Hopfest '09 Brown Ale, not exactly "comfortable" beers for most of the beer drinkers in the world. We flaunted the fact that we love hops, and in my opinion we were rewarded greatly for it! As the day went on we saw more and more returning customers because our beer was simply "more yummy" than all the other beer at the festival!

Here are some things that I learned while at this festival:

1) Don't drink your own brewery's beer, you drink it all the damn time, go try other beer and compliment the brewer (its free anyway!)
2) Have some swag to give away with your brewery's name on it so the drunk people can remember the delicious beer they drank
3) Bring business cards, it is networking heaven
4) If you see someone standing in front of your booth looking lost, be friendly and gesture them over, give them a beer sample, they will love you
5) If at the end of the festival your boss says "Boobs for beer" and people start lifting their shirts for pints... I didn't learn anything here except that this works!
6) BRING A TOOLBOX, things always break!

The end of the beer festival was quite a shit-show, this is becoming a trend... I get to go to another festival this weekend, if it also turns into a shitshow then my hypothesis will be confirmed and I will explain why this happens in detail.

Here is a snapshot that Kelly took during the festival, it rained on us just a little bit (don't worry the beer drinkers stayed!)

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Day 29: My Favorite Style of Beer!

My favorite style of beer is... Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout!!!

This is a picture of filling the VERY FIRST KEG of Lone Peak Bourbon Barrel Aged Hippy Highway Oatmeal Stout! It was a busy and exciting day at the brewery. Any day that starts with a pint of bourbon stout has to be... am I right?

Why was I drinking a pint of this stuff in the morning you ask? Because I could? Well yes, that is part of it! The other reason is that Steve and I could not bare the thought of wasting all the yummy beer that was leftover in our filter and lines after we were done kegging. We did what any respectable brewers would do and pulled out two pint glasses and slowly captured all the "waste" beer.

The rest of the day was very hectic. While cleaning tanks, brewing Lone Peak IPA, and finishing TJ's Old Fashioned Rootbeer, we also transferred yeast, dry hopped the pale ale, and worked on carbonating a different batch of IPA. This was all before 3 o'clock, I might add. At three Steve and I headed up the mountain to install a root beer system as fast as we could, and then back down the mountain to set up a beer tent for music in the park (a weekly local music event), and clean out the mash tun, wort lines, and kettle!

I am exhausted sauce. Thanks to all of you that have e-mailed me your beer story so far. I am still looking for more! Here is a picture Kelly and I took while we were at Yellowstone last weekend (I love buffalo!)

Oh yeah, and a photo of Yellowstone Lake, the most beautiful place in the world!!!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 28: Tinker Toys

What a day!!! It was 7:40 in the AM, I turned on my cell phone after its nighttime sleep, here is the text message I got: "Rafting today, bring Kelly to the brewery, see you at 8." Kelly and I have been hearing that the brewery staff was going to take a day off and go rafting down the rapids of the Gallatin River since the first day I stepped into the brewery. I would estimate that the trip has been tenatively planned at least 5 times since then. We have waited patiently, watching the river reach its peak (above 3500 cfm) and now is down to below 2000 cfm. The rapids are shallow and weak now. Nonetheless, we were excited to find out this morning that today was finally our rafting day!


Our group was stood up by our guide. No rafting today : ( Steve and I ended up back at the brewery at 9:15 AM to get a start on our day (of tinkering with our equipment) about an hour later than we usually would.... A new trip is planned for Monday though, cross your fingers!

Our goal today was to transfer 20 bbl of Lone Peak IPA from FV7 into the new brite tank (BT1). After quickly finishing the glycol (chilling) lines to the dimple jackets on the tank, we had to inspect the passified surface on the inside of the tank, and outfit the rest of the parts to prepare it for holding beer. Let me spare you all the gorey details, this process took about 3 hours and involved me inside the tank (sweating my ass off) scrubbing some scungy spots; fixing and rigging up a carbonating stone, fashioning a blank for a 2" opening out of a ball valve and some elbow grease, and lots of tank rinsing (and repeating of course!) Lots of tinkering!

We started transferring into the tank at about 2:00 PM. We had no idea what to expect for how long the transfer would take, and no "full" line to shoot for!
The transfer took about 4 hours, it probably could have gone faster, but we didn't want to push our luck by pulling beer to fast and risking gunking up our "shit catcher." Consequently there was a lot of waiting to "see what happens." At about 6:00 PM the beer from the fermenter got so gummy with entrained yeast and dry hop residue we stopped the flow of beer. Tomorrow we will keg the IPA and find out what yield we got (I'm hoping for 39.5 kegs!). I will also have the opportunity to start cleaning FV7, my favorite! Below is a picture of the sight glass on the tank while it is filling for the very first time! Also visible is 1/2 of the tiny doorway that I had to use to climb into the brite tank while scrubbing it today.

Because we "wasted" most of our day tinkering with the tank, near the end of the day it was a scramble to finish all the of the other tasks we had planned. (I say wasted not because it actually was a waste, but just because it feels like one making such little progress all day) I got to harvest yeast from FV6 (Headplant Pale Ale) on my own! This was great for me because just last week I watched Steve harvest from another beer, and took notes in my notebook. Without any more guidance or practice I was able to do this task all on my own, just based on my notes! Here is a picture of the yeast harvest:

I also was fortunate enough to mill in the next batch of Lone Peak IPA that we are starting to brew tomorrow! This is the end of my day. Kelly showed up and we had a few beers in the taproom and now I am home, writing to you!

So far I have recieved two very insightful and interesting letters from you aspiring brewers out there! If you need some catching up, on Day 26 I asked for you, the readers of A Brewer's Journey, to write in to with your story about becoming a pro-brewer. I'm hoping to receive many more of these before I post my favorite of the stories in this blog. For those of you that have already e-mailed me, I am working on responding to you personally, but there are only so many hours in a day! Hopefully this weekend I will be all caught up. Thanks to all of you!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Day 27: My Precious... Don't lose the precious!!!

Tonight Kelly and I went to the Big Sky Food Festival (Taste of Big Sky?)! We had an awesome time. Unlike the Taste of MN, which there is nothing wrong with in my opinion, this food festival was the finest eats from every restaurant in the area. It was $5 to enter, $1 a ticket and most food items were from 3 to 5 tickets. Kelly and I got to eat Salmon, Ahi Tuna, Duck, Jalapenos, Bison, Lobster, Crab, Carne Asada, Lamb, Ice Cream, Cookies... the list goes on! (All that food by the way was prepared in elegant forms, I just don't remember the details, sorry) The best part was sipping on Lone Peak Beer the entire time! Steve and I also had the fortune of setting up our tent, kegs, and taps, just like a beer festival, yippee! Here is the whole thing set up!

I have to keep this post short, it is late and we are tired!!!

What I really would like to talk about is wasting beer, spillage, the angel's share, whats gone for the homies...

It is obvious that beer is poured down the drain everyday at breweries. Some waste alot, some waste only a little. I would like to think that our brewery does a great job of saving "every last drop" that counts. For example, if we fill 6 pigs from a keg, I will take that keg home with me to pull that last 8 - 10 pints out that we wouldn't serve in the taproom (waste of time to change kegs that fast). Another example is after we go on our sales runs, we usually end up with 1/2 full growlers of a few different beers. Do we pour them down the drain? Hell no! We man up, take them home, and finish them off before they are too flat and skunked to drink the next day.

Other beer is wasted in the following ways throughout the process:

1) At the bottom of fermenters, after we transfer to the brite tank. This beer is either full of yeast or just unreachable by our racking arm.

2) During the carbonation testing from the brite tanks, we have to dump some and use some for the test.

3) At the end of the boil we have some beer left in the bottom of the kettle that isn't reached by our transfer arm. Sometimes it is entrained with trub, sometimes there isn't enough trub to displace the beer up to the arm. Here is what that looks like:

4) After transferring beer through hoses, we try and chase it out with CO2 or sanitizer... but you can't get it all!
5) My least favorite, kegs that come back partially full. The worst part about this is that usually these people bought kegs for parties or weddings... they don't bring them back for days... they used a hand pump (air) to displace the beer... it is skunk city!!! FINISH YOUR BEER!!!

6) My second least favorite, in bars from improper pouring. Often bar tenders pour the beer wrong, over-pressurize the kegs, have dirty lines, etc. which results in foamy beer that bartenders just let pour down the drain! This actually wastes a ton of beer. Clean your systems and get them tweaked right! It will save you money and make happier customers.

Today, Steve and I improved our beer conservation practices. I decided this morning that it was out of the question to waste some of our Bourbon Barrel Aged Oatmeal Stout while taking the carbonation test. As a result I showed up with a pint glass and Steve and I "caught" the beer whenever possible during the test. The photo below shows Steve even pouring the last of the beer from the Zahm & Nagel, our carbonation tester, into the pint glass to finish off a perfect pint. Yum yum, I love bourbon ages stouts at 9 in the morning!

Life is great! Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Day 26: I am not invincible (just yet)

9:35 AM -
Still making mistakes... On thursday I jumped into the mash tun for the first time to take apart the floor, clean out below the screens, and put it all back together. When we started mashing in today, the mash mixer was running into the floor somewhere which means I messed up putting this thing back together! Right now I am really hoping it is just one screw that didn't get down correctly instead of an unseated floor... if the bottom is really messed up the whole lauter could be fucked!!!

7:43 PM -
It was only a screw!!! I'm not exactly sure how the hell I forgot to tighten down a screw, it was sticking out 1/2" which is quite noticeable imo... either way, in the future I now know to double and triple check my work. Especially the screws holding down the floor in the mash tun!!!

We had another small brewing roadbump today, our power went out right before the recirc. Our power is quite finicky, not sure why, but it goes out or browns out at least once a week. Today it was out for a good 45 minutes right at the end of the mash rest. What did I learn from this today?

1) It is alright for the mash to sit longer than planned, as long as the bed doesn't collapse if you can keep on moving within an hour or so, the only problem is a messed up daily schedule

2) Turn off and unplug all pumps and heaters as soon as possible! Brown outs are the worst because a running motor will start to slow down when the power drops but if it didn't stop then as the power comes back on the internals get "hammered" and can get easily broken.

3) If the power is out overnight, it is possible that the beer in the lines running from the cooler to the tap room got skunked.... time to clean out the lines!

4) It is not worth getting stressed out over little things that are out of your control. I understand that I don't have nearly as much at stake as Steve for example, who would lose $1500 if we have to throw a batch, but the best course of action is preparation for the worst, and damage control when the worst hits!

Today was low key other than the screw problem and the power outage. I cleaned out 36 more kegs today, I climbed in the mash tun again for my redemption, I got to try the bourbon barrel aged oatmeal stout (OMFG, SO GOOD!!!), and experimented more with our home-made rootbeer!

I had an idea today while sitting at the keg washer (this happens alot). I know that alot of you who read this blog are interested in "going pro" in the beer world. I want to know who you are, why you want to become a professional brewer, what you do now, what you are doing to prepare yourself for the job, what you are doing to get the job, what you want to do in the beer industry, etc. E-mail me with your story! I plan to read through these responses and not only summarize what I find, but share one or two of the stories that I find most interesting or inspiring.
If you are already in the beer world I would also love to hear your story!

Thanks for reading! Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Friday, July 17, 2009

Day 25: I've been working in a brewery for 25 days!

Today was a great day! Well, everyday is, somedays I just don't realize it. Today I was self-sufficient! Here is a schedule of my day:

6:59 AM: Wake up to my alarm on my cell phone. I had a text from the boss saying "Come in at 9, see you then!"
7:00 AM: Went back to sleep
8:15 AM: Woke up (next to my hottie gf) and got ready for work
9:03 AM: Decided to grab a breakfast sandwich on the way to work... yummy!
9:15 AM: Arrive at work, Steve says "Hi"
9:26 AM: Made fun of Steve for clogging our spray ball after trying to clean FV3... wow it is dirty!
10:45 AM: Commenced kegging the Steep N' Deep Winter Ale
11:30 AM: Finished kegging the Steep N' Deep (by myself)
11:33 AM: Steve leaves for the rest of the day!!! OMG I am on my own!
12:05 PM: Started cleaning BT2
12:56 PM: Lunch, leftovers from Kelly, YUM!
1:17 PM: Started cleaning FV3 with leftover wash from BT2
1:38 PM: Emptied CIP cart, refilled to clean FV4... OMG I'm up on a ladder 15 feet in the air and the CIP spray ball is burning my hand!!!

2:21 PM: Start cleaning FV4
3:00 PM: Is it time to start drinking yet? No
3:15 PM: It's Beer Thirty!!! I start with an ESB and finish up cleaning FV3
3:18 PM: Finished with the ESB!!! haha jk
3:18 PM: Again cleaning FV3 with leftover wash (this time from FV4)
4:05 PM: Finish cleaning FV3, time to get more beer, this time Hopfest '09, and get ready to leave!
4:45 PM: All tanks are open and sparkling on the inside! The floors are scrubbed under them! I'm ready to relax (and drink beer #3, the Headplant Pale Ale!)

5:01 PM: Walk out into the brewery and find my friends waiting for me! I sit down and relax!
5:05 PM: I realize that Kelly's Buffalo Chicken Pasta Recipe got added to the menu!!! Wow, Congrats babe!

7:15 PM: Blog writing for all you out there... how are you all doing?

I had some questings asked yesterday in the comment section about the gross yeast video:

"Do you wash that before next use?" No, this is waste yeast. Notice the environment is not exactly conducive to sterility! When we collect yeast from the bottom of a fermenter we use a sterile yeast keg (dedicated to yeast), a scale (so we know how much we collected), and a sterile hose. If we are going to be using this yeast within a day or two we don't worry about acid washing. If it is to sit around for a week or longer then we wash it and feed it.

This is before we harvest yeast:

And this is after:

"Do you have a lab where you can test the yeast for health?" No we do not, we have a simple layout and not much space. We test the yeast by the "scratch and sniff" method, i.e. smell, color, and feel. We also track how many generations the yeast has been used and what beer it was in.

I'm excited to relax this weekend! Gallatin County Fair here we come!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Day 24: Cleanup, Cleanup, Everybody, Everywhere...!

When I first wanted to be a brewer, I had a VERY incorrect image of what the day to day job was like. I retained this image all the way up until November 2008, when I got to brew for the first time at Tyranena in Lake Mills, WI (they have a killer bourbon aged brown ale!!!). My image was related to what I did when I was homebrewing: standing around, watching my brew bubble away, while checking the temperature every now and then, and making a mess with peanuts all over my parents garage floor. What I learned at Tyranena is that professional brewing is not standing around with a clip board watching your beer bubble away. It is 90% cleaning and 10% brewing. Sucks don't it?

Surprisingly, I realized today that one of my favorite things to do in the brewery is to clean fermenters, after we are done using them. Why you ask? Shouldn't I prefer to be standing next to the brew kettle as it boils away, smelling of malt and hops? Let me tell you first hand, this smell gets less and less exciting. What is always exciting though is the dirty fermenters! They are quite challenging to get into and when you get into them... you never know what you are going to get!

To start the fermenter cleaning, there is the yeast removal. This has to be done with the tank under pressure. There is a 2 foot thick plug of semi-solid yeast trying to get through a 2" hole on its own! Doesn't work so well. See the video below for what this process looks like... gross huh?

Often we use a hose, leading to a drain and a water spray to break apart the solid yeast "poo," so it actually goes down the drain. It comes out of the hose in this form (see video), sometimes more like diarrhea, and sometimes the hose gets a little constapated. The real attention getter of this process is when we are nearly done emptying the yeast. Now think of this... above the yeast is a 20 barrel tank pressurized to 10-12 psig with a smaller and smaller amount of yeast standing in the way. Do you see a problem here? If you aren't careful that last plug of yeast turns into a high-velocity "shit cannon" that can and will spray the wall all the way across the brewery with gooey, bubbling, yeasty goodness! The way to prevent this is the sit, crouched on the ground, next to the valve on the bottom of the fermenter cone. With your hand on the valve you can feel when gas bubbles come through. When you feel a big one, shut the valve! Simple and easy... you never know when it is going to come, you can't see or hear it, you just "feel" it through a solid pipe.

Once the yeast is out, take a few minutes to relieve the tank pressure. This sounds astonishingly like you are standing next to a jet engine if you do it fast enough. Cool huh? Then the challenging part... opening the man-way for the very first time! Unscrew the handle, pop the door inside, and do you dare peak inside??? NO! Run away! Waiting inside the tank is a wall of CO2 which will rush out, burning your eyes, nose, and lungs. Wait a few minutes until the CO2 (which is heavier than air) has a chance to leave the top of the tank, then come back for a closer inspection.

Now, finally, I can peak in the tank to see the mess left behind from our last brew. I have to spray off the door, take apart the rest of the tank, spray out the openings, and again be careful when I look inside! It is still full of CO2 in there. A warning: many breweries have lost good men who climb into fermenters too soon after opening. Make sure someone is with you if you are going to climb into one!

All that is left to do now is to hook up the CIP cart and wash the tank until its shiny and spotless!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Day 23: Secrets, Secrets...

I really really hate Blogger right now, the whole entering text and photos thing is a real challenge for this program...

Yesterday I mentioned the "brewtine" that we are trying to get into, the picture below is the schedule that we came up with! Here is a great lesson for anyone working in a brewery (or anywhere for that matter): the schedule always changes! Nothing ever stays as planned. Our new plan is to brew the ESB on friday, and delay the brewing of the IPA until later next week. It changed because we got in our distributor order this week and they want alot of ESB! We need to get more moving through the tanks to keep up!

This morning I was fortunate enough to follow Steve around while he brewed the Headplant Pale Ale. What I have figured out is that if I were to work side by side with Steve telling me what to do, I don't learn as fast as if I just stand back and write down everything he does, while asking "why did you do that?" So my trusty notebook got about 7 pages smaller while I wrote down all the details of doughing in, mashing, recircing, and the beginning of lautering. I wasn't able to stick with him to follow the entire brewing process because we had kegs to clean, as usual. Tomorrow we (he) will be brewing the 2nd half of the Headplant Pale batch and I will hopefully get to shadow the 2nd half of the brew! Then I will focus on lautering (again), the boil, the heat exchanger, and the transfer into the fermenter.

Here are some comments from my notes today on the first batch:

1) The mash tun needs a bed of 1-2" of hot water above the screens before starting to add the malt.

2) The mash mixer is running, watch inside to make sure no "dough balls" are forming on the surface. Either turn up the agitation, water, or slow the malt if this is the case. Also the trusty canoe paddle helps break these up!

3) Use the target mash temperature (157F is standard) to gauge the correct water/malt ratio. Too hot, too much water; too cold, too much malt.

4) The mash mixer paddle needs to move up as the mash level rises, controlling this to the right location will help prevent splashing and heaving of the liquid.

5) While the mash is doing its thing (mashing) for the specified time, sanitize all the beer transfer lines. Some brew houses (such as ours) don't have enough piping to sanitize and lauter at the same time, so this needs to be done now!

6) We use a "lautering can" (totally the wrong terminology) which is a converted homebrew fermenter for the lautering. We let the wort flow through the grain bed by gravity, controlled by a valve on the bottom of the mash tun, and into the lauter can (see below). Then we control a pump to pull from the bottom of the lautering can into the kettle. This way we have a consistent way to ensure we aren't pulling to hard on the grain bed (collapsing it, oh no!) during lautering.
Note: some brewer's have fancy schmancy pressure gauges across the grain bed... not us!)

7) I stopped taking notes here... darn! More on this tomorrow! Any Questions?

So what is the big secret you ask? Let me direct you to a news article that sparked this idea! We will see if you can figure it out on your own...


Kelly also thought that I should mention the following. Today a few dudes came through the tap room and asked for a brewery tour. Steve showed them around for a while, and one of them started asking him about how to get a job at a brewery. Totally my specialty! While Steve gave him a short story about how I started here, I made sure the track him down and give him (my first!) business card and to give him a piece of my mind. I've discovered that I love helping people get information about this industry (and hopefully getting into it!) as much as I love making beer. This eager "dude" today reminded me why I am writing in this blog. Jared, cheers to you and the best of luck!

Also cheers to Derek and Tommy, two guys that have committed to getting their brewing educations and taking on the greatest job on earth!

Prosit and Skoal!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Day 22: Gettin' into my Brew-tine

I learned a new word today "Brewtine" (instead of routine!) I was excited, stuff like that makes me feel like I'm a real "member of the club" in the beer world. If anyone asks you though, you got that shit from me, I made it up!

Today was pretty uneventful at work again today. Filling party pigs was the morning activity. I took great notes in my notebook, hopefully next time I will be able to do it on my own!

The afternoon was keg cleaning... again! I actually had a good time. It is a monotonous activity, but it is relaxing and a good de-stresser. During my keg cleaning Steve tossed me a small cardboard box and said, "Here you go, now you are finally somebody!" I GOT BUSINESS CARDS!!! I'M FINALLY SOMEBODY!!! In the future I hope to be able to represent the brewery on my own and sell some beer. That would be a good step for me to start learning the ropes of selling on my own.

Before I left, Steve and I got together and planned out our brew-edule (doesn't work for schedule like brewtine does for routine). Turns out we are brewing 2 days this week, transferring and kegging on friday, and then brewing 4 days next week! In the middle of next week we are also kegging the Bourbon Aged Oatmeal Stout! Yum Yum Yum! I wonder if I should get a growler of that and send it to the boys back home....?

Also, I got to take home my first partial keg tonight! I was planning on watching the MLB All-star game (on FOX)... check this out... we have DishNetwork with like 1,000 channels and WE DON'T GET FUCKING FOX. So Kelly and I cancelled the invite to our friends and have a fricken partial keg to drink on our own! Wow, life is a bitch.

I'd like to give a shoutout to A Maciej and Dave Matthews Band, I'm listening to DMB right now while Kelly is watching How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days. I can't type with TV on, its distracting. A Mac is the one who introduced me to the new DMB album, thanks!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

mmmm..... partial keg!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Day 21: My 1st Beer Festival (was last saturday)!

To start, let me answer a question from my last post: When are we going to use the new brite tank?

The tank still has some passification and washing steps before we can use it. We will probably do that this week to prepare it for use next week. Currently only two of our beers (Nordic Blonde and Lone Peak IPA) are brewed and fermented in 20 bbl batches. So, as of now, only those two will be packaged from the new tank.

Saturday was my first beer festival representing our brewery! It was called the Big Sky Brewfest, organized by the Big Sky Resort. It was a small festival, only a handful of breweries were in attendance. In my opinion it was a great opportunity for us to showcase our beer for the following reasons:

1) There were less breweries to choose from so most of the guests had to leave their comfort zones to get their beer fill
2) We are located only 7 miles from the brew festival and everyone entering or leaving Big Sky has to drive by the brewery... hopefully as these guests leave town they stop by for a growler.
3) We brought our Headplant Pale Ale and our Hopfest '09 Brown Ale, two great beers to showcase what we can do!
4) The small crowd atmosphere allowed us to walk around and mingle with many of the guests (I made many friends!)

There was only one major mishap during the whole event, the Kettle house beer cooler blew a seal and started spewing foamy Coldsmoke Scotch Ale everywhere. All us brewers chipped in to help fix the problem, pulling parts from our own toolkits. It was a great reminder that while we are "competing" companies, we still have to watch out for eachother when facing the big bad world. By the end of the event, the 4 oz. pour rule turned into 16 oz. pints. Most of the younger crowd was still mingling and essentially chugging beer to kill the kegs. I was encouraging this because I knew that any partial kegs would have still belonged to the Big Sky resort and they wouldn't have done anything with them but return them to us in a week, still with beer... so DRINK UP!

Below is a shot I took during the setup of the event. Notice the nice new Lone Peak banner that I had to figure out how to hang up! Classy!

On Sunday, Steve and I decided to hit up some of the world's finest fly fishing on the Gallatin River. The salmon flies (big juicy dumb ones) are hatching and the trout are supposed to be hitting anything floating that is smaller than a squirrel water skiing. Too bad we spent more time floating around than off the boat fishing... still a great time though! Here is shot of the view we have. Reminder, this is only a few miles from my condo!!!

I believe that Steve put it best, "Trout don't live in ugly places"

Today, the actual day 21 at the brewery, was a short one (7 hours short). In the morning I cleaned out the small brite tank and pre-cleaned fermenter #4 with the left over caustic wash. It usually takes one pre-clean with semi-used caustic and one clean with new caustic to get the tanks done right. After that I helped whip up some small batch Lone Peak Rootbeer for the kiddies. It will be carbonating over the next few days and we will try it later this week!

Thanks to Toby, BA from Boise, for stopping in on friday evening. I hope you made it to the Bozeman Brewing Company after you left. I am very excited to say that he dropped off some great Deschutes and Stone brews (in exchange for some Lone Peak and a few other goodies).

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Friday, July 10, 2009

Day 20: The Transfer Student

I believe that in the past I have routinely mentioned transferring beer without giving much more details about the process... let's fix that! (I should say that I'm getting to the point where I'm not sure if I have written on a specific topic or not in the past... sorry for any redundancy!)

Transferring beer: Moving beer from a fermenter into a brite tank in preparation for kegging. How is this accomplished? What does it look like? Well... here we go!

First off, the brite tank has to be cleaned, then sanitized, purged of air, and pressurized with CO2 before the transferring can begin! This usually takes me about 2 hours on a relatively clean tank. Really dirty tanks require more than one cleaning. After cleaning the tank (CIP), I set up all needed parts (sample ports, CO2 diffusion stone, pressure gauges, etc.) on the tank so they can all be sanitized at one time (ensuring an adequate job on all surfaces). Sanitizing is also done with the CIP cart, circulating sanitizer through the system instead of cleaner. At the end of the cycle I stop the pump and simultaneously shut some valves to trap sanitizer in my hoses (which will be used for the beer transfer later!) After this I can hook up a CO2 line to the bottom of the tank and slowly let it fill with CO2 from the bottom up. To check to make sure that the tank is purged of air I take a nice big whiff of the gas bleeding out the top of the tank, if it burns like hell, it is CO2, and I can start to pressurize.

It is worth noting here (just like tank/keg cleaning) there are rules for moving and transferring beer. Rule #1: Move beer from a pressurized container into a pressurized container! Beer, of course, has CO2 in solution, to preserve the CO2 levels, the beer has to be transferred into a place with the same or greater pressure as its environment. Hence all this talk of pressurizing tanks... back to my story.

While pressurizing the brite tank, we are sanitizing and hooking up the hoses for the transfer. On the fermenter's racking arm, which is a tube that sticks into the fermenter in the middle of the conical bottom, we hook on "The Monster." This is really just Steve's nickname for a heavy-ass thing with 3 valves and a sight glass that we use for transfers. Attached to the monster is one of the hoses (already packed full of sanitizer), which runs through the pump face and "filter" on the CIP cart and then another hose (also packed with sanitizer) eventually goes into the bottom of the brite tank. I say "filter" because this is not the type of filter you use to make a "filtered beer" such as the BMC's. It is a "shit catcher" and will stop lumps of hops and yeast from entering the brite tank. Yeast and other particles actually make it through this filter, the point of it is in case we accidently pull a huge plug of shit from the fermenter.

Now, what we have is our system ready to go, except that our lines are packed with sanitizer... now we fix that problem. Using the side valve on the monster we dump some of the beer until it clears and is ready for the brite tank. Then we open up the valves leading to the end of the hose... chasing out the sanitizer with fresh beer! Once beer flows out the end of the hose we stop the flow and hook it to the bottom of the brite tank. Then we open up the valves, balance the pressure in both tanks, and hope to god our shit catcher doesn't clog with shit.

Here are some pictures to tell the tale:

Here is "The Monster" with its side dump tube, and a transfer hose attached.

Here is a hose, with beer flowing in it...

Here is the CIP cart with the two hoses and the shit catcher. Beer is flowing into the bottom one, through the pump face and filter, and then out the top one. Why the pump you ask? Just in case we need an extra push.

Finally! Here is beer flowing into the bottom of the brite tank! We are venting gas from the CIP arm coming off the top and down the side of the tank. This is so we maintain a constant pressure during the transfer.

That is it! Simple and Easy!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Day 19: I know nothing!

Sitting back near the keg washer today... washing kegs... I realized (again) that my journey is just beginning and that I have ALOT to learn still.

I am getting down the art of washing kegs (okay I already have that down), transferring beer, cleaning tanks, filling kegs, emptying the spent grains, cleaning the kettle, and milling in. These things are only a small portion of what needs to be done at our brewery everyday!

I still have to learn about the entire brewing process. I appreciate this more than ever now, brewing is a very delicate process. I will have to spend months more learning this before I can brew on my own and make sure that I am making the "same" beer as Steve. I still have to learn about yeast handling. I still have to learn about maintaining the equipment. I still have to learn about the glycol system. I still have to learn about our process controls. I still have to learn about recipe formulation. I still have to learn about scheduling.... this list could go on for a while, so let's just say that it does and you get my point.

What has been a great help for me so far is my little black book. If time allows, I follow Steve around and write down exactly what he does in the correct order. I make sure to ask questions and highlight the critical steps. After this, I am usually able to start the process of completing these tasks on my own, without being lost in the whirlwind of little things to do.

While the book has been instrumental for me so far, I am also beginning to realize that some things cannot be written in this book. I am going to have to commit to memory many other minute details of each task. I am going to have to develop decision making, problem solving, spatial reasoning, and exact timing.

Again it is these realizations that fortify my conclusion that I have a long journey before I can start my own!

I was going to upload some pictures of my drive down the mountain this morning, but our internet is horrible right now, so they will have to wait. Thanks for reading!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Day 18: The do's and don'ts

A short explanation on our puppy situation:

We puppy sat Yogi for two weeks. For a while Kelly and I toyed with the idea of keeping the pup, but after we discussed our future plans more, we knew that we couldn't keep him. We are going to miss him dearly (but I'm excited to sleep in!!!)

So far at the brewery, I have been making a list of the absolute do's and don'ts while on the job. This list will always be a work in progress (especially as we update our equipment and methods) but for now I feel it is complete to share. Keep in mind that I cannot get through a day without having to follow these rules. If I don't follow them, I will for sure break something bad or ruin a batch of beer.

1) ALWAYS vent tanks when adding hot/cold liquids. Also add the liquids in 5-15 second bursts. This will prevent collapsing tanks or spraying hot caustic solution all over the place

2) ALWAYS turn off heating elements (CIP cart and keg cleaner) before the liquid level drops below them. Otherwise they will overheat and break and are very expensive to replace

3) NEVER drag anything metal across the floors. They (the floors) and our stainless steel parts get knicked up enough, no need to accelerate the wear

4) Turn off equipment before unplugging or plugging in

5) Watch your hose spray, especially near sanitizer buckets, power sources, and the nice shiny equipment

6) If it is not clean, it cannot be sanitized

7) Never run pumps dry

8) Never let air or un-sanitized surfaces come in contact with beer

9) ALWAYS turn on tanks starting to fill with beer and turn off tanks finishing emptying

10) If you mess up cleaning or sanitizing anything, it is ALWAYS worth your time to redo the job than risk contaminating beer

I will have to add more to these rules later, but it gives you an idea of what goes through my head all day. BTW, today I was in charge of a beer transfer (tank clean, tank sanitize, fermenter pressurize, tank pressurize, packing lines, transferring beer, clean my mess) while helping with the stout brew. I was even left in charge of the lautering for a good 15 minutes by myself... scary!

Coming soon to the tap room at Lone Peak is bourbon-barrel aged oatmeal stout and winter ale. We cheated and took a small sample today, directly from the barrels, even warm and without carbonation the beer was delicious! I can't wait until its actually ready to be served!

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Day 17: I've Got a Saccharomyces Cerevisiae Infection

OH MY GOD! The internet at our condo sucks and blogging with this program is very clunky and annoying... Why can't I change the font to Arial? WTF?

By request of my lovely girlfriend Kelly, we are going to discuss yeast, not yeast infections... haha gross

All you home-brewers out there are used to the following series of events:

1) Decide to brew beer
2) Drink beer and fantasize about beer you are about to make
3) Go to homebrew supply store to buy ingredients for brew
Now it gets important!
4) Select one of the many many yeast strains available for your future brewy goodness
5) blah blah blah
6) Yummy beer!

Buying individual yeast strains for every beer is not a reality at the larger scale. At many of the breweries that I am familiar with (including ours) there are only a handful of yeast strains servicing many beers. Actually we use one yeast strain to make eight of our beers! WOW!!! AMAZING!!! Also, once we get a yeast starter, we will use it over and over and over again (more than 10 generations at a minimum) HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE???

Carefully is the answer. We buy a yeast starter from a lab, add it to a brew, and then harvest it for another brew. To ensure no contamination of the yeast the harvesting, handling, and transferring of our yeast is done in dedicated kegs that are meticulously cleaned after every use. We take care to harvest the yeast at the proper time during fermentation and if it sits in the cooler too long before it can be used again, it is acid washed and fed. We also have to ensure that the yeast we harvest will be suitable to make the subsequent beer (for example, don't harvest from a stout to make a pale ale).

From what I can gather, different breweries have very different yeast handling practices. Some buy starters more often than others. Some use their yeast for many many generations, some not so much. Some have many different styles of yeast and some have only one or two.

I'm exhausted, I'm going to bed. We have a puppy for only two more days, and he must know it because he is becoming more and more annoying by the day! Until adoption day (thursday) I will be up at 5:30 am... again.

Cheers, Prosit, and Skoal!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Day 16: I gots a case of the Monday's

The Fourth of July Celebration in Big Sky was great! Kelly and I ventured over to the brewery for a few beers and a growler fill, then watched a concert, met some cool people, and saw some mediocre fireworks. The highlight of the experience was "getting out" and "letting loose" for the first time (in my opinion) since we have been here. After the official Big Sky event, we went over to a house occupied by some of the employees of the brewery and shot off mortar shells and drank more beer. Great times...

Sunday we also got to go to the 320 Ranch Rodeo, see below the "Montana Zamboni" While enjoying saddle bronc's and bull riding, the damn rodeo clown picked me, out of hundreds of people, from across the arena, to show-off in a dance contest. I pulled out the worm... in horsepoop... and then did some little acrobatic pushup. I should have one but a cute five year old beat me with some out-dated disco moves. I would have rather tried to get a $50 bill from between an angry bull's horns.

So how is the brewing job you ask? It is going great! Today both Steve and I kinda had a case of the Monday's. We brewed, cleaned a fermenter to recieve wort, transferred yeast, and I cleaned about 36 kegs. It was a slow moving lazy day. Tomorrow will be busy busy busy, brewing, cleaning, a beer transfer, and kegging! The days we brew, transfer, and keg in one day are nuts, but we get "far ahead" when we do it, so its worth it to catch up with the brew schedule.

It seems to me that many of the "aspiring brewers" out there, want to not only make beer, but to start their own brewery (and do it soon!). I was thinking about this today, day dreaming about my future too, but I was stopped by the following observation of my life. I know how to make beer, easily on the homebrewing scale and in concept on a larger scale. When I think about managing the whole operation of a brewery though, it scares the shit out of me.

I have learned a lot at Lone Peak so far. I realize now that I have a lot a lot alot more to learn before I could even manage myself at Lone Peak for one day, let alone start my own operation. My future path is developing slowly but is becoming more clear. I need to spend more time at this brewery to learn how to do more than just make beer. I need to go to school. I need to start reading the craft beer industry's relevant publications to understand the trends and new technologies. I need to spend lots more time around this stuff before going out on my own!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Day 15: Mission Impossible 4 - Tom Cruise is Still in the Closet

I want to go party... this will be a post in pictures because this is all I did all day long.

Day 14: Harry Potter and the Brewer's Stone

Right about now, Steve and I wish we could do magic. Our new brite tank is in its correct location... but happens to be sideways on dolly's; not in the much more functional vertical position.

If only Hairy Potter would whip out his phoenix feather wand and Wingardium Leviosa (holy shit I spelled that right on the first try... if you don't believe me google it) then we could set this tank upright and get on with life!

We are multiple days behind on the brew-schedule now due to the arrival of the replacement brite tank. There were quite a few road-bumps (punny haha) while the tank was on its way here, and its final arrival was less than planned for. Before I continue here, I have noticed a re-occurring pattern thus far, it seems that we always make and try to meet aggressive brew schedules, and that most often we fall short. I can't say that this is the fault of anyone person, but moreso, the nature of the brewery we work at. The "kinks" haven't all been worked out yet, and guess what? Steve and I are the only two people that are going to work them out, so our brewing time suffers.

Now that we have our new tank, we are going to spend today putting it in the correct position. What this will probably entail is the following tasks: going and getting more chain, climbing into the attic, knocking two holes in the ceiling, hanging a chain pulley off the rafters, attempting to stand the tank up, gently setting it down, and hopefully having a beer when it is all over!

I'll keep e'rrbody up to date on what happens (hopefully tonight). Steve is hoping the "brewing gnomes" take care of this for us... I think we would have a better chance of Daniel Radcliff showing up in costume to help.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Day 13: It's Spelled BRITE Tank not BRIGHT Tank

What a day!

The notebook worked great today, thanks for asking! We started out kegging the Headplant Pale Ale, our first keg was finished exactly 3 minutes AFTER the distributor showed up for it. Talk about cutting it close. Here is some advice for those of you wanting to start breweries soon. Take your brew schedule seriously. No bar likes to be shorted beer because you didn't finish it in time; no distirbutor likes telling bars that they can't have beer that was ordered (because you didn't finish in time). So far, we have been cutting it close, but have made our distributor deadlines.

I've been impressed (and scared) of the brewing schedule we have at Lone Peak, surprisingly, ours is easy. We can only brew one beer at a time, we have eight fermenters, and two brite (bright) tanks. Steve was telling me today that at his old brewery they brewed EIGHT batches a day! They have a mash mixer, a lauther tun, two kettles, and a whirlpool; that amounts to 4 brews going at one time! Talk about complex.

So back on track, we kegged this morning. Then I was in charge of cleaning the brite (bright) tank while we prepared the Wit Beer for a transfer. Thanks to my notebook I knew what was going on, did most of the prep work myself (without asking for help) and was even a step ahead sometimes!

The distraction for the day (there always is one, tomorrow is distributor pickups) was the arrival of a new brite (bright) tank. The old 20 bbl brite (bright) tank we have didn't work, so its replacement arrived today. At noon the tank arrived... why the hell wasn't it on a flatbed so we could pick it from the side?

Much much later in the day (8 o'cock) here I am trying to shove it in the building. This was after two hours of maneuvering, metal work, and supporting with dolly's and pallet jacks.

And here is the final resting place (for tonight) we got it inside enough to close up the damn brewery, I left at 9 o'cock (not a typo). 14 hour days are fun!

I finished the night up in the hot tub at the condo, drinking a litre of the Headplant Pale and writing this. I'm excited to go to work tomorrow!!!