Day 204

Although it is still about three weeks from exams, a third of the class–including me–had our first final exam today, in Practical Brewing. (That’s because only a third of us can work in the Teaching Brewery at a time–the other two-thirds of the class will get their turn on the next two Wednesdays.)

Brewmaster Jon Downing split us into two teams, and gave each team a different beer recipe. For the final exam, each team had to make two batches of their assigned beer on one of the small (50-litre) pilot systems, and then document what they had done. However, each team couldn’t just concentrate on just that–as with any brewery, there were many other tasks to get done as well, so it was up to each team to rotate personnel so that everyone got a share of the exam work as well as the other brewery tasks.

Both teams did a good job on their brews despite having to deal with some of the usual problems that happen from time to time. The real problem was transferring the wort to a fermenter. Before the yeast can be pitched, the hot wort has to be cooled down by running it through a heat exchanger on the way to the fermenter. Since there is only one heat exchanger for both pilot systems, and it had to be rinsed and cleaned after each batch was pumped through, it became a real bottleneck. In the end, we didn’t leave the brewery until 7:30 p.m.

An 11-hour day might have made for the longest exam I have ever “written”, but it was also the most enjoyable.

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