Day 505

Even though I wasn’t in the Teaching Brewery today, it wasn’t really a day off. First of all, we have a major assignment, test or presentation in every class next week. However, sometimes schoolwork has to be gently set to one side in order to… brew beer! Yay!

Yes, the brewery that employed me last summer asked me to brew up a batch of beer for a Valentine’s Day party. (I guess they’ve finally forgotten about that jalapeño beer incident.) The 70-litre pilot system that I have used in the past was not available, but luckily, the brewery also has a tiny 20-litre home brewing system, so that is what I used to produce a black pepper black IPA.

Time for all those assignments. No, wait, I’m lying. After cleaning the equipment, I had just enough time to pull on some clean clothes I’d brought with me before heading to the Master Brewers of Canada (MBAC) Annual Technical Conference. The afternoon sessions featured a panel of brewers who have moved or upgraded their breweries, and some of the problems they ran into. The best advice seemed to be: “It will cost three times as much as budgeted and take four times as long as expected.”

We also heard from Chris Robertson, Director of the Beer & Spirits Division at the Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO). Since  the LCBO has been a prime focus in several business classes this semester, hearing him talk about beer sales was very interesting. He seemed to take a lot less time than some of our instructors–he covered the entire procurement and ordering process in less than 15 minutes.

There was also a social evening, which was a great opportunity to meet people from some of the largest and smallest players in the field. I talked with a design engineer from Molson Coors (Canada), the owner of a small 15-hL brewhouse in southern Ontario, a hops salesman, a PR person for the Ontario Craft Brewers’ Association, and a brewhouse design consultant. The brewhouse consultant had the best comment of the night: “I have to take some time off from my job to work on my business.”

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