Day 61

Ten percent of the 600-day road to brewmastery travelled. Today in Ingredients we made our group presentations regarding adjuncts. My group had chosen flaked wheat, but there were not enough different adjuncts to go around, so another group also chose flaked wheat. They made their presentation first and did a very comprehensive job, leaving us to shuffle our feet and say, “Yeah, uhh… What they said.” I mean, how much is there to say about flaked wheat?

We’ve been learning all about barley for most of the first seven classes, so it was a bit anti-climactic to finish off the subject by quickly running through the various barley diseases and pests we might come across. Most exciting was probably ergot, a fungus that apparently causes vivid hallucinations before convulsions and death set in. Well, the first part sounded okay.

The remains of a Bertwell hop flower

The remains of a Bertwell hop flower

The subject of barley having ended, albeit on something of a down note, it was on to the next major flavour ingredient of beer: humulus lupulus, better known as hops! The first thing Kevin Somerville did was to hand out dried Bertwell hop flowers, which we tore apart in search of the magical golden lupulin glands that produce the alpha acids and hop oil so highly prized by brewers. As I did this, I started to sneeze, raising the spectre of the ultimate nightmare–the brewer who is allergic to the smell of hops. Luckily the moment passed.

We then started to delve a bit more closely into the inner workings of hops: alpha and beta acids , ad- and co-humulones, soft and hard resins, International Bittering Units (IBUs), calculating hop utilization, and the deliberate use of old hops (usually in Belgium).

On to Business Math, where we had a short quiz about compound interest payments before carrying on with more problems about… compound interest payments. Obviously the math teacher realizes my future holds a lot of compound interest, missed payments and renegotiating loans.

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