Day 31

First up today was a Business Math review test of all concepts covered so far, from ratios and proportions to mark-ups, markdowns, gross and net profits.

In Intro to Brewing, Gordo Slater ran through the topic of aeration/oxygenation of the wort–the difference between the two, (short answer: air is free, medical-grade oxygen is not), the advantages and disadvantages of each, and what equipment can be used. Yes, that included the homebrewer’s old trick of picking up the fermenting vessel and shaking it vigourously.

Then it was on to the fermenting tank, and naturally, yeast. Let us sing the praises of yeast, that blessed single-celled facultative anaerobic miracle. In with the oxygen and sugar, out with the carbon dioxide and alcohol.

We heard lurid tales of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ale yeast that ferments at the top of the fermenter) and Saccharomyces pastorianus (lager yeast that ferments at the bottom, also known as Saccharomyces carlsbergensis, since it was first described in 1883 by someone working for Carlsberg). We learned how yeast would arrive at our brewery (either dry or in a liquid medium); how to wake yeast up from a dormant state; how to measure its viability, and spot bacterial infection; the various ways to pitch yeast into the fermenter (standing on a ladder and pouring it from a bucket is low tech and cheap, injecting it into the wort stream as it runs from the whirlpool to fermenter is more expensive but there’s no danger of falling off the ladder); its subsequent life cycle, and how to keep it at the top of its game for as long as possible; how to recover yeast  from either the top or bottom of the fermenter for use in the next batch, and some problems inherent in either system; and storage in between uses.

Of course, that’s all theory. Next term we will actually be examining and growing yeast in our microbiology class.

After class, our “brewery design” team met to take the first steps in designing a brewery. (One of Gordo’s assignments is to design a brewery in a specific location to make a specific beer.) Our team decided on a brewpub-sized 5-hectolitre brewery in Cumberland, B.C., using glacier-pure water from nearby Comox Lake to make a kick-ass imperial stout, using an old flat-roofed coal-mining building as our brewpub. We roughed out a floor plan and equipment–I’m sure Gordo will point out the flaws during our class presentation and rip the plan to shreds, but it was fun to put it together.

Now we’re off for the Thanksgiving long weekend–only one mid-term exam to study for, some “extended reading” to read, 20 pages of notes to transcribe, and an on-line test to complete. Surely there will be time for some turkey in there.

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