Day 533

With all the exams, presentations and assignments this week, it would have been nice to have had a quiet day in the Teaching Brewery bottling  or cleaning kegs. Instead, today was my special assignment day where I got marked as I brewed up my very own beer.

Yes, today was the culmination of all the theory and practice. I arrived this morning clutching my own recipe (complete with hand-crafted calculations), then put together the ingredients and brewed a double batch on the 60-litre pilot systems while Brewmaster Jon Downing watched. Over the next two weeks, I will monitor my infant wort as it grows up and becomes an adult beer. Two weeks from now, after packaging, I will perform a sensory analysis on it, then submit a complete report on the brew day and the resultant beer. All of the above will then be the basis of most of my mark in Specialty Brewing. (A small portion of my final mark will be based on a safety test and my work in the Teaching Brewery on days when I wasn’t brewing.)

And how did I luck into having my special brew day right smack in the middle of mid-term week?

I picked the date.

Yep. Volunteered for it. Didn’t think, “Hey, the week before Reading Week is usually full of exams and assignments.” I simply put my name on the available date, and there it was.

Black IPA

Black IPA on the boil. Mmmmm…

For you brewers out there, my recipe was for 60 litres of a black IPA (or as the chattering classes say, a “Cascadian dark ale”): 17.5 kilo grain bill, mainly pale ale malt, with 1.6 kg of Crystal 20, 800 g of Midnight Wheat and 400 g of Chocolate Malt. Hopping was 75 IBU worth of Amarillo. That much grain in a relatively small system resulted in a ridiculously long sparge–almost two hours. But the result was as black as the devil’s heart, and as bitter as a jilted girlfriend.

Twenty litres of the 110-litre batch will be cask conditioned and served at the college Open House on March 23. (Free samples, come on down!) I haven’t decided how to package the other 90 litres yet. Keg them off and sell them to a local bar? Bottle them under the college’s “Brewmaster” label and sell them in the college beer store? Hmmm…

But plans for world dominance must perforce await–more mid-term exams and presentations tomorrow.

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