Day 3

We started bright and early at 8:30am with… Business Math. Not exactly what the brain was hoping for. (Frankly, it was crying out for another couple of hours of sleep.) Luckily for my brain, it was only introductions and a look at the course outline today. On Monday, we start into ratios (handy for recipe conversions from a 50L pilot system to the large 500L system), as well as currency conversions–necessary for when you order that new brew system from Germany and ship it through Italy. I’ve already been working ahead on this part, and the math wasn’t too hard once I’d cleaned a bit of rust out of the neural pathways.

Then it was on to what may be our most difficult course of the first semester: Introduction to Brewing with Gord Slater.  “Gordo” has been working in the industry for many decades, most notably for Ontario beer lovers as one of the founders with Peter Chiodo of Robert Simpson Brewing in Barrie, and its subsequent “conversion” to Flying Monkeys Brewing. Gordo is friendly but made it clear that he’s expecting a lot from us. Last year’s students set the bar high, and we are expected to raise it. He asked us what we hoped to get out of the course, but he also asked us what we are going to give back to the course.

After that, he gave us a 3-hour intro that was just the barest introduction to two of the main ingredients in brewing: water and hops. (For those of you who think the brewer can simply turn on the water tap and just use what comes out of the faucet, oh have a seat over there in the corner.)

There’s a fair bit of chemistry involved in deciding what water profile can be used for which style, and how water can be modified by the addition of chemicals to match the flavour profiles of water, say from Dussledorf, Burton-on-Trent or Plzen.

Regarding humulus lupulus (hops), yes, it is in the same plant family as cannabis. Hops are grown all over the world, from Sussex to BC, and the Yakima Valley in Washington State to Australia and New Zealand. Brewers only use the hop cones (or “flowers”) of unfertilized female plants–once the flowers are fertilized, the resultant seeds replace the precious alpha acids and oils that hops are harvested for. (There was a lot more chemistry talk, I won’t bore you with the details.)

Then after a short break for lunch, it was on to Business Communications–how to write professional emails and reports to your supervisor, your co-workers, your underlings, clients, suppliers and the general public. When to be technical and when not to be technical. Proper tone. What not to add. Is it for documentation, information or persuasion?

And so ends the first week. Since last Monday was a holiday, there’s actually two more courses we haven’t had a class in yet–those will be on Monday.

Frequently Asked Question of the Day: How far is the commute?

I live in Burlington (Ontario), and the Teaching Brewery is on the outskirts of Niagara-on-the-Lake, about 65 km (36 mi) each way. While this is a long drive, it is about the same distance that someone in Burlington travels while commuting in the opposite direction to Toronto. In my case, the traffic is considerably lighter and the journey consequently much less stressful, since I am travelling in the opposite direction of rush hour traffic in both the morning and afternoon.

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