Day 285

Breweries are criss-crossed with pipes–pipes for water, wort and beer, as well as for glycol, CO2 and oxygen. On occasion, they might even contain a caustic or acid solution. It’s therefore very important that before you take a fitting off the end of a pipe, that you check what’s in the attached pipe. Also, has the valve at the other end of the pipe been closed, or are you about to dump 2500 litres of beer on the floor? Have you bled off the pressure, or are you about to get a faceful of the pipe contents?

I knew all of this in theory, but, as they say, experience is the best teacher.

I was asked to replace a 1-inch pipe elbow on the pump that moves water from a large reserve tank to the rest of the brewery. I double-checked that the valve from the reserve water tank to the pump was closed, but something distracted me, and I neglected to close the valve on the other side of the pump. When I removed the pipe from the elbow to be replaced, the pipe sprang off under a fair amount of pressure and water jetted everywhere. In the few seconds it took me to trace the pipe and turn off the offending valve, I was inundated, totally soaked from head to foot.

As luck would have it, the brewmaster happened to be walking by and pointed out–between bouts of laughter–that I was lucky the pipe only held water.

Lesson 1: Check, then double-check your valves.

Lesson 2: Keep a dry set of clothes in your car.



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