Archive for October 2011

Day 51

October 28, 2011

Business Math test. There were a few head-scratching moments, but overall, I think I got the job done on break-even analysis and simple interest.

In Intro to Brewing, more head-scratching moments as Gordo Slater ran through the six main biochemical reactions that a yeast cell completes in order to convert glucose into CO2 and alcohol.

I should interject here that in order to be admitted to the brewery program, you need to have either OAC-level (that is, Grade 12) Chemistry or OAC Biology. I took Chemistry and Physics in high school, but not Biology. No problem, the course admission guidelines imply I should be able to get by on Chemistry, right?

Back to our story: Gordo drags us through a dense thicket of biological terms. ADP to ATP. Glyceradlehyde. Acetyl Coenzyme A. Pyruvate. Cofactor Mg++. Didn’t understand much. Looks like Biology might have been a better choice than Chemistry.

After a short break to let the words ooze through my brain in the hopes that some of the six processes would get stuck in there, we were on to aging and maturation–leaving the beer to sit for a while for a while after the end of fermentation. This clarifies, stabilizes, carbonates and standardizes what’s in the fermentation vessel.

In the final half hour, we hurried through a bit about cask-conditioned ales. I was disappointed that we didn’t spend more time on this, with perhaps more of an introduction to the subject for the students who have not yet been inducted into the brother/sisterhood of real ale. Real ale is becoming more popular in southern Ontario, and brewpubs of the future had better understand what it is and how to serve it properly, so it would seem like a good subject to spend some time exploring.

And then, speaking of real ale, it was time to prepare myself for a weekend immersed in cask-conditioned ale. Tomorrow, three lectures at Bar Volo in Toronto:

  1. Making cask conditioned ales (with Charles MacLean of Battleaxe Breweries)
  2. Serving cask ale (with Ralph Morana of barVolo and  George Milbrandt of C’est What)
  3. The history of cask ale in Ontario (with Nick Pashley and Robert Hughey).

A pint of cask ale is served at each lecture, so my note-taking may decline in quality as the day progresses.

Then on Sunday, a chance to sample a few of over 70 casks of real ale at Cask Days, this year at on the University of Toronto campus at beautiful Hart House. I’ll be serving for a while at the Niagara College  Teaching Brewery booth, so come by and have a taste! (But if you don’t have a ticket, too late! SOLD OUT!)

And somewhere in there, I have to study for the Ingredients mid-term at–you guessed it–8:30 a.m. on Monday.

Day 50

October 27, 2011

I’m not an early morning person, so why, oh why do all my mid-term exams happen at 8:30 in the freakin’ morning? I think to be fair to us post-noon-oriented people, at least half of my exams should be scheduled for the afternoon.

Like a golfer on the first tee rubbing his shoulder and grimacing, I am merely laying out my excuses for blanking out during portions of the Sensory Evaluation exam this morning. Now, at 4 p.m., I remember that the esters produced by fermentation other than autolysis are fruity, solvent, spicy, and fusels–so easy to remember when I’m awake.

No time to mourn, it’s on to a Business Math test tomorrow. What? Why now that you ask, yes, the test is at 8:30 in the morning.

Day 49

October 26, 2011

Finally back in the Teaching Brewery! Our team was on the small (50L) pilot system, making a double batch of one of Jon Dowling’s new recipes, Dunkel Weissen Bock. The grain bill was mainly pilsner malt, with some malted wheat, some caramel malt and a touch of Black Prinz for a really deep black colour. The name of the hop variety escapes me–it was a German aromatic hop of some kind added at the start of the boil. Looking forward to trying some when it hits the campus store.

Yawn! Working in a brewery is a disco surfing time, but you are on your feet (in steel-toed rubber boots) from sunup to sundown. Mid-term exam in Sensory Evaluation tomorrow, time for bed!

Day 47

October 25, 2011

Oooog. Starting a Monday with one of Kevin Somerville’s Ingredients tests at 8:30 a.m. Perhaps it was the caffeine by-products swirling through my brain, but in response to “List three problems that naked grains cause to both brewer and maltster”, I found myself writing “Possible protests by the ‘Protect Our Children: Grain Should be Fully Clothed’ movement.” Perhaps not full marks on that question.

After the test, Kevin made us some tea to calm our nerves. Okay, actually he made infusions of various malts including pale malt, rye malt and chocolate malt, so we could compare the actual flavours that the grain will add to our beer.

Back to the post-test lesson. We heard about some essential differences between a few popular malts, and then some evaluatory tests that can be done on barley after harvest: kernel size, nitrogen content, viability, water uptake, moisture content and germination energy/germination capacity.

On to Business Communications: we’re writing a little puff piece about ourselves as a business promotion.

Computer Business Apps: Do you know all of Word’s bells & whistles? Test next week to find out!

Business Math: Suppose your brewpub borrowed some money for ingredients a few months ago at a simple (non-compounding) interest rate of 5.5% per annum, with the plan to repay some of the loan plus accumulated interest, a total of $6000, three months ago, and the balance of the loan in a year, which, with interest, will also equal $6000.  However, you sold less beer than expected and were unable to make your first $6000 payment, which is now 3 months in arrears. Today you have managed to renegotiate with your lender to pay back the loan in two equal payments, one six months from today and the other nine months from today. How much will the two equal payments be?

I put down $0, since the brewpub sounds like it is in trouble, and will likely close before the first payment is due in six months. However, the math professor assured me that the brewpub has just come out with a kick-ass IPA, and will be selling at full capacity from now until Judgement Day, so could I please just do the math? Okay, fine, deny reality. How’s two payments of $6,086.87? Anybody else get the same answer? Anybody?

Day 44

October 22, 2011

In Business Math, we’ve moved on to calculating interest, principle and amortization–a great topic if you have money invested the bank, perhaps a more depressing topic if, like most brewers, the bank has money invested in you.

In Intro to Brewing, it was “Fermentation, Part Deux”, as we went into more detail about the types of fermenters that we might be dealing with and their various pros and cons–open tank, horizontal tank, vertical cylinder with dish bottom, vertical cylinder with conical bottom. The last design is increasingly popular due to its smaller footprint. However, as Gordo Slater pointed out, using those tanks probably requires that the fermenting room floor be reinforced, since even a small 10-hectolitre tank has a filled weight of about 12,000 kg (13 US tons), and all that weight is concentrated on a relatively small area. In our previous “design a brewery” assignment, some of us had designed brewpubs set in picaresque old houses with the fermenting tanks in or visible from the main floor dining room. The vision of the fermenting tanks suddenly disappearing from view during dinner had a lot of us hastily revising plans so that the fermenting tanks were placed in the basement (rather than ending up there.)

Gordo also pointed out the various parts of a fermenting tank that have to be in place for safe and practical operation: pressure relief valve, vacuum breaker valve, pressure gauge, level gauge, sampling valve, some means of CO2 removal after the beer has been removed, possibly a CIP (cleaning in place) system. And for safety, some means of ventilating the fermentation room to remove build up of carbon dioxide.

Then it was back to yeast: normal fermentation phases, and the various problems that can occur during fermentation, causing an unfinished or “hung” fermentation.

And that was it for another week. The next ten days looks to be crunch time, with a test on Monday, a test and a mid-term exam on Wednesday, another mid-term exam on Thursday, yet another mid-term exam on Friday, and then another mid-term exam on the following Monday. Hopefully there’s time in there to sample some good beer.

Day 43

October 21, 2011

In Sensory Evaluation, it was the last day of aromatics. First up was a round of spices we might run across in various beers, among them ginger, nutmeg, cloves, coriander, cinnnamon and orange zest.

After giving our noses a ten-minute rest, Roger Mittag pulled out a dozen fruity aromatics that can be found in beer (usually ales), including strawberry, apricot, black currant, red licrorice, bananas and pears.

Also mixed in with those were a couple of aromatics that are warning signs of fermentation problems: acetaldehyde (green apples or sometimes a new plastic smell); and marmite (a sign of yeast problems).

And that is it for aromatics! Next week is our mid-term exam, and then we are on to actually tasting beer.

Day 40

October 18, 2011

In Ingredients class today, we finished off the multi-week topic of barley by talking about types of barley (2-row versus 6-row), the various varieties of each, how new varieties are cultivated, and what aspects of barley-ness are sought by barley breeders.

Then during a break, Kevin Somerville laid a few licks on us: 1. New group assignment, due in three weeks. 2. Test next week. 3. Mid-term exam in two weeks.

Ouch. Perhaps buying a ticket for the afternoon session of Cask Days was not a good idea. Yes, there will be 50+ brewers and 70+ casks of real ale but it happens to fall the day before Kevin’s mid-term exam. Oh well, I’ll try to approach the problem like a normal college student would: “Exam? What exam?”

Back to work, and the topic of malt competitors–that is, ingredients that can provide soluble starches, enzymes, colour and character in place of malt. We had talked about adjuncts last Friday in Intro to Brewing, but we examined them and other malt competitors a lot more closely here: flaked, flour, grits, torrified, whole cereal, glucose syrup, sucrose, invert sugar, caramel, and malt extract. Then how each of them are prepared, and what equipment we may need in order to use them. For instance, who knew that glucose syrup has to be held at a temperature of 50C or it will solidify? Or that some whole grain cereals have to be gelatinized in a cereal cooker? Or that we may have to use commercially-produced enzymes in the cereal cooker due to higher temperatures that barley’s natural enzymes can’t survive?

And as if that wasn’t enough for one day, we also looked at cereal grains other than barley: wheat, corn, rye, oats, triticale, rice, sorghum, millet and even legumes like peas. (Yes, beer has been made with yellow peas in Japan–however, I would hesitate to yell “Yellow pea beer!” in a noisy bar.  It could end very badly.)


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