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!

1 comment:

  1. Spencer, I work at an electric utility in Wisconsin and I want to give you some advice after hearing about your power issues. Without knowing what kind of protection schemes or reliability practices your utility uses, I can tell you that frequent outages and brown outs that happen while it's not storming outside (in other words, not due to lightning strikes) are most likely caused by contact to the power lines from wildlife or contact from blowing tree branches, which I'm guessing you have a hell of a lot of both in Montana.

    Make sure you call your utility EVERY TIME you have an outage. It will help them respond to the problems faster and also tip them off that the line that feeds the brewery needs some work. Some questions you can ask the utility while on the phone are: "What kind of tree trimming practices do you have? When was the last time my feeder was trimmed? Do you use animal abatement products on overhead equipment and at substations? What steps have you taken to improve reliability?" It also wouldn't hurt to make sure they know that the brewery has critical process manufacturing that is sensitive to outages. Hope that helps some.