Monday, March 28, 2011

Week 7

Monday: Week 7 is my final week in Chicago. My time here has flown by. I really can't believe I have almost been here two months. Today the class was split into two different groups. One was doing a Case Study, and the other a segment called The Business of Brewing. In our groups we were further split into smaller groups of 3-4 people. I was in the half doing The Business of Brewing.

Tuesday: Today we wrapped up theThe Business of Brewing. Basically what that is is a game of sorts where your group is given chips and a game board and you have to essentially keep a "brewery" afloat by borrowing money and producing beer lines and marketing/advertising them. Mostly it is a budgeting drill and a lesson about the woe's of borrowing money. My team did alright for awhile but in the end we did not win...oh well. Later me and my friend Fred who lives here in Chicago and I, went to an old Chicago standby called The Twin Anchors. I guess Sinatra used to hang out here when he was in town. They had a ridiculous plate of ribs and a halfway decent beer selection. It was a cool place to check out.

Wednesday: The half of the class that I am in started our Case Studies. We were again further split into groups of 4 and given a scenario to which we were to come up with a solution. We were given access to the Siebel library as well as encouraged to do plenty of internet research. On Friday we will all have to do a Power Point presentaion of our findings to the whole class.

Thursday: Today we finished our Case Study and and ran through our presentation. Our group was given the scenario that we were a large brewing company looking to build another brewery in a place where hydroelectricity is cheap and the government encourges us to use it. Oil and gas are very expensive in this scenario, but that is all our company is used to using. We needed to come up with a way to run a large all electric run brewery. In the end we came up with running electrode boilers and the Merlin wort boiling system. We also recomended using alternative energy sources to suppliment the hydroelectric power. All in all this turned out to be a fun project and I am on a team with some great guys.

Friday: We gave our presentations and got out early. A group of us went down to Piece Brewery for lunch then headed over to our apartment for a bit. We went to Local Option, had dinner and a few beers and generally had a great time.

Rick Nelson from Cheap Trick has part ownerdhip in Piece Brewery. Here is one of his axes'

Saturday: The day was mostly spent finishing packing and getting the apartment move-out ready. We got back to Siebel around 3:15 and hung out for awhile. After a  final meal at the Goose Island Clybourn we hopped on a bus and headed to the airport for a 9:50 flight to Munich.

Sunday: After a pretty comfy plane ride in which I managed to get some sleep, we landed in Munich at about 1:30 in the afternoon. The school had van cabs waiting for us, so we pilled in and they took us to our apartment building and others to their hostels. We got settled in and a couple of us decided to get on the train and check out where the school was. We found it and also found an Italian restraunt that had some pretty good pizza and Augustiner Wiess beer...all in all not a bad week. Tired and ready to brew some beer.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Week 6

Monday: Well, week 6 has arrived. This will be the final week of straight classroom studies, and only one more weekly test on Friday. I did manage to get the mega cold that has spread like wildfire through the class and it's kicking my butt. Anyway today we studied Principles of Heat Transfer and Mixproof Valves. After lunch I went home because I was feeling awful. The rest of the class studied Pumps and Fluid Flow and,Troubleshooting Pumps. I studied them on the couch.

Tuesday: I still feel horrible, but I came here for a reason so I made it class today. We studied  Materials of Construction, and Insulation Properties with John Mallett from Bell's Brewery. This was hands down one of the best lectures in the whole program for me. I like this kind of material and John Mallet's a brilliant guy.


Hose cutaway showing bad seams

A pinched hose section, that would be hard to clean

Someone was not cleaning this properly

Various polishes of stainless steel

A pipe with a bunch of different welds (the second from the top is the best)

We also studied Statistics today,  which was kind of interesting, but pretty dry. At the end of the day there was a Styles Tasting of Belgian beers. I went home instead of doing the tasting. Don't get me wrong I absolutely love most Belgian beer, it's just that one, I had already tried all the beers they were pouring, and two, being sick I couldn't smell or taste anything anyway. Oh well.

Wednesday: I started to feel a little better today. We studied Compressed Air Systems, Brewery Process and Design, CO2 Collection, Refrigeration Principles and PID Principles. The weather was absolutely fantastic today and therefor difficult to sit in a basement classroom but I managed to make it all the way through the day.

Thursday: We studied Steam and Condensate Systems with Gary Troop. He was the most lively instructor yet. It was pretty much impossible to space out. After 5 hours of talking about steam and boiler systems we did a packaging related Sensory tasting. Then we did a taste test of 7 unknowns. Basically we had 7 cups of Budweiser and we had to figure out what was wrong with them or whether it was just a control. I got 5 of 7, not bad for someone who had a head cold and only one working nostril.

Friday: We took our test in the morning. I didn't do as well as I did on other tests, but I was gone for a lot of the lectures that the test covered. I still got a B and still kept an A average for this part of the course. We also had a few hours covering Process Control and Automation. At this point a lot people in the class were pretty spent and this can be pretty dry material. I thought our instructor, John Hall did a good job though at the end we had to rush and didn't cover everything. He did make an interesting point about automation in relation to craft brewing and basically said " automate the easy, mundane tasks so you can free up more time to concentrate on the art of it". After that we had Randy Mosher in to talk about Beer and Food Pairings. We then did 8 different food and beer pairings. Some of which were mind blowing. Some of my favorite's were The Bruery's Saison Rue with Capriole Farms goat cheese. Also North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin with chocolate truffles...yum and.....

Stone Smoked Porter with Gruyère.
Later that night we had a going away gathering for Sharif at our apartment. He is done with his part of the program and will be off to Uruguay in a few days to work on a brewing project down

Saturday: Sharif took off and I went had brunch with Jay, who then took over Sharif's room so he could get out of the hostile he has been staying at. The rest of the day was a pretty lazy one. For dinner we went to the Old Town Social. This place is incredible. We had Belgian oysters, smoked almonds,deviled eggs, assorted olives, 4 awesome cheese, and a charcuterie with homemade soppressata, summer sausage, chorizo, and one other that I can't remember.
Sunday: Another lazy day, mostly getting stuff ready to go to Germany...I can't wait. One more week.
We had dinner at Hopleaf, which consisted of musscles cooked in Wittekerke white all. They we fantastic. To drink I had a Cantillon Rose De Gambrinus, Urthel Saisonniere, a Goose island Pepe Nero, and finally an Allaghash/De Proef collaberation called Les Deux Brasseurs. After that we watched a lighning storm from our rooftop deck. Not a bad way to end the week.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Week 5

Monday: It's hard to believe I've been here this long. Monday we started our 2 week study of  Packaging and Process technology. We started the day with a Packaging Overview for a few hours with Gary Grande, a 23 year veteran of the Miller Brewing Company. Jen came and met a couple of us for lunch at the Goose Island Brewpub. Afterwards I had to say goodbye because she was leaving later that day. It was so great to see her, but the visit was way too short. after lunch we went on to study Gases In The Brewery, Valves, and Production Line Design. One really scary thing Gary showed us was a bottle with a "birdswing" , which is when a thin strand of glass goes from one wall of the bottle's interior to the other. The really scary part is if that breaks, and someone tries to drink it. I guess newer bottle making process' have made this pretty rare these days.

Bottle with "birdswing" 
Cutaway of a ball valve
Butterfly valve

Tuesday: We had Michael Eder from Doemens Acadamy there to lecture us on Labeling Processess, and Inspection Technology for most of the day. We then piled on to a bus for a tour of the Goose Island Production brewery. It was a great tour. The group I was in even got to try fresh wort from the whirlpool plus of course finished beer as well.. They were very gracious hosts.

The Brewhouse
D.E. Filter
Bottling line
Wednesday: We started  the day with 3 hours of Bottle Washing. This doesn't have as much meaning to us in the U.S. because unlike the rest of the world, we don't reuse bottles. We then went on to study Bottle/Can Filling, and Small Brewery Filling systems.

Bottle Filling Head
Can Filling Head

Thursday: Thursday was all about Kegging Systems, Packaging Materials, Process Materials, Process Troubleshooting, and a practice written assignment, which is really just practice for our final exam which is in essay form.

Friday: The day began with our weekly quiz, then the class was taught about Mainntenance Effectivness, Hygenic Design/CIP Cleaning, Pasteruization, and P.E.T. Technology and Applications (plastic bottles).

Saturday: I met up with a classmate and his wife and we got on a commuter train and headed south to Flossmoor Station. We were told that we could then get a taxi from there to take us 12 miles away to Three Floyds. This turned out to be hard to do on the day all of Chicago was celebrating St. Patricks day and all the cabs were tied up. We ended up finding a super nice couple to give us a ride. We bought them a few beers when we got there, then they took off. We stayed for a few hours and enjoyed some great beer, house made jerky, and some dinner. When we went to try to find a cab back to Flossmor, we found out that was also not so easy. Our waiter overheard us and said he would give us a rid back to Chicago. When we got back into town we went to the Twisted Spoke and had a few more beers. I then decided to go home, but I was told the night got crazier....

Sunday: The sickness that has been spreading like wildfire in our classroom finally caught up with me, so I laid pretty low most of the day. Later in the evening I had a great homemade dinner of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes all cooked in stout with my friends Fred, Laura and their son Miles. It was a great way to wrap up a busy week.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Week 4

Monday: Well I did about as well as I thought I would on the test from last week...anyway, we studied Filtration, Centrifugal Sedimentation, and Sterile Filtration. It was interesting stuff. The Sterile Filtration part was good except the guy giving the lecture worked for a company owned by 3M, and every slide had their logo on it. A lot of the lectures are starting to feel like a sales pitch. I am begining to feel ready to be out of the class room, and actually learning by doing the tasks we are being taught. I learn much better when I can get my hands on something, and not just by learning it from an outdated slide. Anyway enough of my rant, I am still enjoying myself, just ready to be in Germany where we will actually be making beer.

Tuesday: Tuesday was another microbiology day where we studied, Detection Methods, Control Factors, and Beer Spoilage Organisms.We also did more sensory training, this time concentrating on esters and phenols. All in all it was a pretty good day.

Wednesday: We studied Flavor Stability, Beer Hazes, Beer Foam, and Beer Gushing with Michael Zepf from Doemens Academy. Who knew studying bubbles could be so interesting? Michael is a "gushing expert" so we spent quite a bit of time on that. The odd part was the night before, I had opened a bottle of pilsner that started to gush, not too fun when that happens, and it can be caused by fusarium, which is a mold that affects the barley in the field, as well as calcium oxalate, and many other factors.

Thursday: was all about Beer Color, Maturation/Storage Principles, Cleaning & Sanitation, and Brewery CIP. Interesting stuff. Later that night I got the best early birthday present ever. Friends back home pitched in to surprise Jen and fly her out to Chicago for an extended weekend. She got to our apartment right as we were finishing one of our bi-weekly study groups and got to meet some of the crew here.

Friday: We has our weekly quiz. I feel pretty good about it but as usual we will see. We then went on to study Carbonation, Quality Management, and Taste Panels. We actually did a taste panel test where were given three samples of beer and told that one was different. Then the class was individually asked to say which they thought was the odd one out. It was not an easy test, but for me I found one to be slightly thinner in the mouth feel than the others. I turned out to be right. The sample I chose was Bud Light and the other two were regular Budweiser. It's surprising how similar they are. The other interesting thing is that the class we almost evenly split 3 ways as to which they thought was the off one. We then went on to do a styles tasting of German & Czech Republic beers. Most of the beers were nothing new, but we did get to drink Schlenkerla Rauchbier which is one of my favorite beers. Smokey and awesome. After that we piled in a bus for a field Trip to Metropolitan Brewing. It was a neat place and they were very gracious hosts. Afterwards Jen and I went to Xoco....YUM!!!

Zahm and Nagel "shankout" device for checking carbonation.

Saturday: Jen and I went down to the Field Museum. The weather was windy/snowy/cold, so it was nice to be inside. There were some pretty cool exhibits.

Later that night a group of us went out for dinner and drinks for my birthday. It was an awesome time and  I felt blessed to get to be around such great people.

Sunday: Jen and I went out to brunch. After that we came back to the apartment for awhile, then headed down to Millennium Park. We finished off the night with some unhealthy hot dogs and some Indiana Jones movies. What a great week.