Day 547

As you may recall, two weeks is all the time each student’s specialty beer is allowed to loaf around in the fermentor. On the 15th day, the hotel manager politely knocks on the door, hands the beer a bill for 14 nights plus two bottles of water from the mini-bar, and then peremptorily boots the beer out to make room for another student’s specialty beer.

Since I had brewed two weeks ago, my beer was scheduled to be filtered and kegged today. I wasn’t scheduled to be in the Teaching Brewery watching this happen. However, I had commmitted to casking twenty litres of my beer, which requires that the beer be transferred to the cask straight from the fermentor in its unfiltered condition. Since the rest of the beer couldn’t be filtered until I had filled my cask, I drove down to the campus, and at 8:30 a.m., armed with nothing more than my Leatherman multitool and a jalapeno bell pepper, I entered the Teaching Brewery.

After hammering a keystone (a small bung) into the hole in the front of a 20-litre cask and then sanitizing the cask, I added some priming sugar and some Cascade hops. Oh, and the jalapeno bell pepper–because that’s the way I roll. I then transferred 20 litres of my black IPA from the fermentor to the cask.

My task complete, I hammered in the shive (the large bung in the top of the cask) and cast about for some masking tape and a felt-tip pen to mark the cask. While I was doing that, a curious thing happened: the remainder of my beer–about 70 litres–was transferred into kegs, carbonated and refrigerated.

The transfer itself was not the curious thing. No, what I found curious was that not two minutes previous, I had a conversation with the student who would be doing the transfer and confirmed that I wanted the beer to be filtered. Somehow the student got the impression that when I said I wanted the beer filtered, what I really meant is that I didn’t want the beer filtered. Huh.

So when I got back with my masking tape and felt pen, there was my beer in two kegs, sitting there. Unfiltered.

This isn’t a huge tragedy. It’s an opaque black beer, so clarity is not really an issue. On the plus side, none of the aroma, flavour or colour was removed by filtering. On the minus side, once it is bottled, it is probably not going to have a long shelf life, so it’s important to drink it while it is fresh.

I will certainly do my part to help with that.


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