Day 135

Many breweries have some sort of internal tasting panel to ensure the brewery’s beers remain consistent, and of course to detect problems. Someone at the brewery has to organize those tastings, so today in Sensory Evaluation we discussed the role of the tasting organizer:

  • Temporarily transforming a room at the brewery into a proper tasting room. (Or if you have some sort of budget, permanently re-purposing a room.) There are a number of considerations, as we learned with Roger Mittag last semester, including good lighting, no cooking smells, and no distracting noises.
  • Working with the brewery brass to identify the objectives of the tasting panel, then designing a plan of how to fulfill those objectives.
  • Providing clear instructions to the panelists
  • Properly preparing “beer clean” glasses and serving samples at the proper temperature
  • Evaluating the results of each tasting, and reporting the results.

At the end of the class, we received our first assignment: Imagine that we’ve been given a 150-square-foot room to turn into a permanent tasting room. The problem is that our budget, which has to include all furniture, glassware and room improvements, is only $2000. Oh, and the room is next to the smelly, noisy brewery kitchen.

On to Chemistry, where we received a very quick review of high school chemistry: protons, electrons, neutrons, atoms, elements, atomic number, atomic weight, ions, polarity, molecules, compounds, moles, covalent and ionic bonds, solutions, the dilution rule, acids and bases, and pH. Whew!

But wait, there’s more!

Then we started in on water chemistry. H+ and OH, polarity of water molecules, non-polarized compounds and their insolubility, water alkalinity and its deleterious effects on brewing, and how calcium salts can save the day!

Just as our neurons were feeling very zapped, it was time for Microbiology, and an introduction to yeast. As instructor Mark Benzaquen pointed out, we are not so much brewmasters  as we are yeast farmers, carefully seeing to the well-being of our hard-working microscopic compadres as they toil to produce alcohol. So the more we know about yeast, the better we will be able to care for them. Today we reviewed what we had covered in Intro to Brewing last semester, but in more detail, especially around yeast cell division via budding and the theories about how yeast flocculates (joins together into large clumps).

Given that Chemistry and Microbiology form a back-to-back four-hour block, we eventually staggered out of the classroom with brains and bums equally numbed.

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