Day 10

In business math today, while learning how to calculate prorated refunds, we were shown a rad function on our business calculators that automatically calculates the number of days that separate two dates. Turns out I am exactly 19,900 days old today. Maybe I’ll have to have a special celebration on December 23, when I turn 20,000.

In Basics of Brewing, Gordo Slater revealed our eventual class project: working in teams of four, we will design a brewery. The brewery can be set anywhere in the world (but we have to choose a definite location), and we also have to decide on a style of beer that the brewery will produce. It will be a fascinating project, since the things that Gordo is teaching will have to be factored into the brewery’s design.

For instance, we talked about malted barley today–how it can be shipped, where it can be stored at the brewery, the various ways it can be milled, and whereabouts in the brewery it can be milled. Will we be ordering malt in 25-kilo bags, in high capacity totes, or loose in a silo? If loose in a silo, where will the silo be located? What is the silo’s capacity, and does that capacity match both the needs of the brewery and the expected delivery schedule of malt? For instance, if we plan a brewery that will use 8 tonnes of malt a week, and we decide to build a silo that has a capacity of 10 tonnes, it seems we will have enough malt for the brewery’s needs as long as we can get delivery of malt every 7-10 days. If however, in the location we have chosen for our brewery, we can only get delivery of malt once a month, then we would have to design a much larger silo.

Likewise, should we mill the grain in a separate milling room, or mill out in the open space of the brewery? Milling in a separate room is an explosion hazard due to the dust, and we would have to put explosion controls in place such as a roof and windows that swing open. Milling in a much larger space such as inside the brewery cuts down on the explosion hazard, but  everything will get coated in barley dust.

We spent some time considering mash tun design. The mash tun is where milled barley is introduced to hot water in order to activate the enzymes in the barley, which will then convert the barley’s starches into sugars. If we are storing the malt in an unheated place (such as an outdoor silo), should we be installing a grain hydrator to preheat the grain with hot water as it enters the mash tun, so that in the winter, the frozen barley doesn’t cool down the hot water?

Will we be using a single infusion mash or a stepped infusion mash? Single infusion is where the brewer heats up the mash to one temperature for a specific amount of time. Stepped infusion is where the brewer raises the mash to a certain temperature for a few minutes, then raises it to a new temperature for a few more minutes, then raises the temperature again, and finally raises it a fourth time. The reason for the stepped infusion is that some enzymes operate best at lower temperatures and some operate best at higher temperatures. Although the single infusion method is easier and activates most of the enzymes, the stepped infusion method activates more enzymes because it pauses at various temperatures.

As we are starting to learn, ingredients, storage, delivery, milling and brewing methods will all have to be decided on before we can start to design the brewery.

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