Posted tagged ‘Sensory Evaluation’

Day 591: Final day of the program

April 19, 2013

The last day of Exam Week started with a meeting. A few weeks ago, a couple of us Brewmaster students had been asked to discuss the course curriculum with our fellow students. This morning, we brought those comments and suggestions to a meeting with Craig Youdale, the Academic Chair of the department and Jon Downing, the Teaching Brewery Brewmaster. We have already seen changes made to the first year of the course, some of which may have been due to our comments last year, so we hope that the comments and suggestions made this morning will have a similar effect on the second year of the course, and on the program overall.

The meeting ran long, so I was actually very late for my final Creative Writing class–only got there in time to hand in my¬† portfolio.

And then it was time for the final final exam….errr… last final exam, in Sensory Evaluation.

And that was it for the Brewmaster program.

Done. Finished. Over. Completed. There is no more. Woo-hoo!

Contrary to the title of my blog, it’s not quite 600 days since I started–due to a change in the structure of the spring semester this year, we are finishing one week earlier than originally planned… but “591 Days to Brewmastery” doesn’t have the same ring as “600 Days”, does it?

So what now for this new “brewmaster”? First–and most important–it’s time for a cold beer!

(Okay, let’s admit it–just about any time is a good time for a cold beer. But I digress…)

Over the next few days, I’ll post some reflections on second semester, and some thoughts about the Brewmaster course overall.

Day 584

April 13, 2013

I shed a tear/For I have no beer/What a wretched fate/To cogitate

As you may have guessed, the last day of lectures started in Creative Writing with a brief look at poetry.

In Human Resources, we ended the semester with the process of union-labour contract negotiations and the collective agreement. (I thought it was highly symbolic that my pen ran out of ink near the end of the lecture. I went through almost a dozen pen refills over the past two years while taking notes.)

And in Sensory, my group presented the slide show of our taste results that I had put together yesterday; we then listened to the presentations of other groups.

And that was it. Done. Completed. Finished. Nothin’ left.

Oh, except for five exams next week.

(Cue ominous music)

duh Duh DUHHHH!

Day 583

April 13, 2013

Last Friday a team of six of us presented two beers to the Sensory Evaluation class and gathered data on what they tasted. Tomorrow we have to hand in a report outlining our results and make a class presentation.

Today I received the finished report from one member of the team and used its data to make up a basic PowerPoint slide show. I then emailed the file to another member of the team to make it look nice and professional.

Woo hoo! No more homework!

Day 577

April 8, 2013

I try to keep my competitive instinct under control, but it tends to surface for things like trivia contests and Rock Band... and chocolate. Our Creative Writing teacher had no idea what she was unleashing when she announced the prize for a quick in-class competition would be chocolate bars.

My vision turned red. MUST EAT CHOCOLATE!

The contest really was quite simple: working in groups of five, we had ten minutes to write the opening lines to a piece of bad genre fiction.

Here’s the thing: I am a grandmaster of bad genre fiction.

Western: The hard sun blazed from the big sky as Dusty rode his deep-chested dun into the small, nameless town in the Sierra Madres, his namesake trail of dust settling on the listless men lounging on benches in front of the saloon as he dismounted. The sheriff stepped out of his office and looked Dusty over with hard eyes, but the cowboy, dog-tired from days on the trail, didn’t stop to talk. Pushing back his white ten-gallon and settling his six-shot hawgs more firmly in their holsters, he strode through the batwing doors of the saloon into the dim interior. Seconds later, shots rang out…

Detective: I looked at the clock on the stained office wall. Although it only read nine a.m., it was probably eleven o’clock somewhere, so I poured myself an eyeopener, then settled back to either read the pile of bills on my desk or contemplate life as a lousy joke. I had just settled on the latter when my next client walked in, a tall cool blonde poured into a tight red dress. “Are you Jimmy Drake the private eye?” she purred, not batting an eye at the open bottle of whiskey. “That’s what the sign on the door says, sister. Drag up a seat and I’ll pour you some breakfast…”

Fantasy: Argalain the Pirate paused as he crested the mountain pass, bewonderment crossing his face at the terrible sight before him. A giant serpent, fangs glistening with black venom, hissed in anger at the unwanted intrusion, the fainting maiden caught within its coils forgotten for the moment. With a cry, Argalain loosed his magical sword Madralin, honed by elvish smiths in the fires of Nithond, and swung it about his head as he charged into battle…

Science Fiction: Argalain the Space Pirate paused as he teleported into the mountain pass, bewonderment crossing his face at the terrible sight before him. A giant serpent, fangs glistening with black venom, hissed in anger at the unwanted intrusion, the fainting fembot caught within its coils forgotten for the moment. With a cry, Argalain activated his laser sword, honed by elvish technicians on the planet Nithond, and swung it about his head as he charged into battle…

You see what I mean. When it comes to bad writing, I can write with the worst of them. The contest was pretty well over before it had begun. Mmmmm, chocolate.

On to Human Resources, where we are finishing up the last few classes with some consideration of union labour laws in Canada.

In Sensory, the various groups presented beers as if the class represented a tasting panel, and gathered information about the various beers tasted. We have a week to collate the results and make a presentation to the class as well as a written report.

Unfortunately the tastings took so long that I had to discard my plan for the evening. Mark Murphy, who graduated from the first Brewmaster class a year ago, has become the very first graduate of the course to start his own brewery. He recently joined forces with his wife to form Left Field Brewing, a contract brewery with cleverly baseball-themed beers like 6-4-3 IPA. Alas, the launch party was in Toronto, and by the time we got out of our final class, it was far too late to make the 150-km trek around Lake Ontario during rush hour.

I’ll just have to wait for another Left Field event and buy two of Mark’s beers.

Day 573

April 1, 2013

I started the third-last week of the semester by heading back to my summer brewery, where a mere ten days ago some classmates and I brewed up a pale ale for a Sensory class assignment. The beer was giving off a lot of sulphury notes, an indication that the yeast wasn’t quite finished its work yet. However, the class tasting is this Friday, so ready or not, it was time to package the beer. First decision: keg it or cask it?

Kegging involves transferring the beer from fermenter to keg via a filter. Since we hadn’t had time to crash the fermenter (that is, lower the temperature of the fermenter so as to induce the yeast to fall asleep and drift down to the bottom of the fermenter), there would still be a lot of yeast swimming around, which would require a lot of filtration. In addition, I would also have to carbonate the beer. Once in class, we would have to use CO2 or a pump to get it out of the keg.

Casking involves transferring the beer from the fermenter to the cask, adding some sugar, and hammering a shive into the bung hole to seal the entire thing up. Having yeast swimming around is actually a good thing, since they will be able to chow down on the sugar and carbonate the cask all on their own. Once in class, we would simply hammer a tap into the cask, then open the tap.

Hmm. Let’s review.

Kegging: Filter (and filter and filter and filter) and then carbonate. Lots of work. Arrange for CO2 or find a pump to get the beer out of the keg. More work.

Casking: Hammer home a shive to seal it. Easy. Hammer in a tap to unseal it. Dead easy.

Really no contest, was it?

Day 561

March 22, 2013

I was scheduled to be in the Teaching Brewery today; since I had brewed my specialty beer three weeks ago, I was going to be cleaning kegs, bottling, etc. However, my summer brewery wanted me to come back and brew up a one-off, and a group of us students also needed to brew up a small batch of beer for a tasting assignment in Sensory. Since there was no available time on the Teaching Brewery systems to brew the Sensory assignment beer, I got permission from Jon Downing, the college brewmaster, to go forth and brew elsewhere.

So early in the morning, I was heading east along the north shore of Lake Ontario towards Toronto, rather than east along the south shore towards the college. Golly, a lot more people drive to Toronto in the morning then drive to the college. And they drive very slowly. And stop. And go. And stop. And go.

"Call-of Brew-ty: Black Hops" version 2.0

“Call-of Brew-ty: Black Hops” version 2.0

I finally got to the brewery and readied the pilot system. First up was a re-creation of “Call of Brew-ty: Black Hops”–regular readers might recall that this was the smoked chipotle black beer I created for Cask Days last October that turned out to be mind-meltingly hot.

There’s no question that due to a small miscalculation when adding the chipotle to the cask last October, the heat was turned up to 11. This time, I tried to dial it down a bit. I also added the smoked chipotle to the boil ten minutes before flame out rather than waiting to add it into the cask of finished beer. This way, I figured I’d have advanced notice if it was still really spicy, since I’d be able to taste it several times on its journey from wort to beer.The verdict? Well, I may have added less chipotle, but adding it to the boil seems to have integrated more capsaicin. Despite my efforts to be a bit more conservative, the wort that went into the fermenter was still pretty “wow!”

As I was cleaning up, a couple of my fellow students arrived  to help make a beer for our Sensory assignment. (In essence, what we have to do is make a beer, use the class as a tasting panel to get their opinion of the beer, then use the data from the tasting panel to recommend whether this beer should be put into production.)

Because the beer isn’t the point of this exercise, we whipped up a British-style pale ale–easy, simple, not too many ingredients.

It was a longer day than usual, but the end result was two different brews fermenting away.

Day 548

March 8, 2013

In Creative Writing: Point-of-view, and the advantages and disadvantages of first-, second- and third-person.

In Human Resources, we started a unit on performance evaluation.

In Sensory, we first reviewed some of the common beer taints by–what else–tasting them. I didn’t have a cold this time, so all my taste buds were up to speed and able to detect the wide range of awful flavours. Gnrk! Next up, Rob Doyle from the quality control team at Mill St. Brewing gave a talk about the importance of ensuring our processes are designed to produce consistent beer. Even better, Rob brought some samples of Mill St.’s Cobblestone Stout, which we used for a taste analysis.

Afterwards, we retired to the Benchmark (a fancy foodie-type restaurant on the campus) for a beer and food reception and a chance to chat with Rob for an hour. Very civilized way to end the week. However, enough shmoozing–assignments and tests are starting to pile up again, so it’s time to get back to work…

The most exciting thing about graduating in six weeks is going to be weekends without homework.


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