Day 147

In Microbiology Lab, we created fresh growth medium in a petri dish, perfect for culturing the evil bacteria and wild yeast hanging around your brewery.

The actual weighing and mixing of the solution took just a few minutes. “Great,” I thought smugly. “We’ll be out of here early.”


The next step was to sterilize the solution in the autoclave. Using the autoclave turned out to be a two-hour bottle-neck.

Result: an hour after the lab was supposed to end, we finally poured a bit of the sterilized solution into a petri dish, let it sit for five minutes to solidify, then put the petri dish in the fridge, just as Doug Pengelly came through the door for three hours of Packaging.

So we returned to our lab stools to learn about fluid dynamics, specifically how liquid in your brewery operates inside a pipe. Here’s the thing: as liquid flows through a pipe, the liquid closest to the pipe wall slows down a bit due to the drag against the pipe wall. However, the further away from the wall you get, the less friction and therefore the faster the liquid moves until you get to the very centre of the pipe, where the liquid moves the fastest. This difference in velocity from the pipe wall to the centre of the pipe can cause turbulence as the layers of liquid moving at different velocities interact with each other.

However, there are various factors that affect this. If the liquid is moving very slowly, there won’t be much friction with the pipe, therefore less difference in velocities throughout the pipe and less turbulence. If the liquid is thicker (more viscous), it will cause more friction and more turbulence. If the pipe has a large diameter, proportionally less of the liquid will be in contact with the pipe walls, meaning less overall friction, and therefore less turbulence.

Now, less turbulence would seem to be a good thing, but as Doug pointed out, there are times in the brewery when mixing the liquid up via turbulence is a good thing: cleaning the pipes, oxygenating the beer on the way to the fermenting tank, carbonating the beer, and removing heat in the heat exchanger. And of course, conversely, anytime you are transferring carbonated beer, you want as little turbulence as possible so that it doesn’t foam up.

We also looked at moving liquids around the brewery, especially when that involves moving from one level to another. That brought us to–


Nooooooooooooooo! I ran from the room. (Perhaps in spirit if not in body.)

Finally, after 6 straight hours sitting on a lab stool, it was time to go home. Oh wait, not tonight. It was actually time to trade in jeans and a sweater for a jacket and tie, since I was participating in the inaugural “Caps, Corks & Forks” dinner, a beer versus wine competition. Culinary students created and presented six fabulous courses, then wine and brewmaster students paired a wine and a beer with each course. The 80 diners then voted (with either a cap or a cork) on which one paired better with the food of each course.

It was a close competition: after five courses, the score was Wine 3, Beer 2.

For the final course–dessert–I presented the beer we had chosen to be paired with cinnamon pumpkin fritters: Great Lakes Brewery Winter Ale, a spiced honey ale. Winner!

Final score: Beer 3, Wine 3.

Ah, but as a tiebreaker, the organizer counted the total of all votes cast, and wine was declared the winner.


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6 Comments on “Day 147”

  1. Canageek Says:

    What growth medium are you using? LB? I’ve also encountered autoclave slowness, it is very annoying.

  2. Jennifer Says:

    It was a close call Alan! Your beers were fantastic; creative and very well presented!It was a treat to taste them – well done!

  3. […] & Forks, the wine vs. beer dinner. I was part of the beer team for the inaugural edition–as you may recall, we tied with the wine students 3-3, only to lose in a tiebreaker. This time, fellow first-year […]

  4. […] time readers might remember that two years ago, I was a member of the Beer Team at the inaugural Caps, Corks & Forks dinner. Now I’m staff support for the Beer Team at the fifth such […]

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