Day 140

Brew day in the Teaching Brewery, and I was everybody’s assistant, moving from job to job as required. Some of the students were making a cherry chocolate stout on the small (50-litre) pilot systems–that was  about the only station at which I didn’t work.

First up was helping to add 100 kilos of pale ale malt, 25 kilos of Maris Otter malt and 5 kilos of Caramalt 60 to the large system’s mash tun to start a batch of 1st Draft Ale.

Bottle labeller

Bottle labeller

Next I was put on the bottle labeller: Place an empty bottle between three rollers. Wait for the rollers to apply labels to the front and back of the bottle. Remove the bottle and replace it with another. Repeat one thousand times. (No, seriously, a thousand times: 45 cases x 24 bottles = 1,080 bottles.)

By the time the final bottle emerged from the machine, I felt like Charlie Chaplin on the assembly line in Modern Times

Next was the bottle capper: place a bottle crown in the magnetic holder, place a filled bottle underneath the crown, press two buttons simultaneously (to make sure you keep your hands out of the way) and a hydraulic press crimps the cap to the bottle. Put the capped bottle in a case. Repeat for next bottle. Every time you fill six cases, move them to the brewery cooler.

Keg Washer

Keg Washer

I only capped a few hundred bottles because I was pulled into the brewery office to add labels to more bottles. These bottle were “bombers” (650 mL) that didn’t fit into the bottle labeller, so I had to stick them on by hand, one at a time.

Just as I was getting rolling on that, I was sent to the keg washer. Lock the bayonet-mount heads onto two kegs. Turn each of them upside down and lift them onto the machine. Hit the “Start” button. During the 6-minute automatic empty-rinse-wash-rinse-pressurize cycle, wash off the outside of the kegs, then return to the office to stick on three or four more labels. Head back to the keg washer as the cycle ends, remove the kegs from the machine and stack them in the brewery cooler.

With a stack of kegs freshly washed and stacked, I returned to the bottle line to pre-sanitize empty bottles so they could be filled with beer.

Several hundred sanitized bottles later, it was time to fill nine 50-litre kegs from the bright tank and move them to the brewery cooler. A filled keg weighs 60 kilos (118 lbs). Thankfully some of the other students moved the filled kegs for me.

And that was it. Excuse me while I—


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