Monday, July 11, 2011

Week 22

Monday: At this point time really seems to be flying by. It's crazy to think that I will be home in under a month.
We started the week with more work on our group projects. Next it was on to a Microbiology lecture in the lab. This time we did yeast counting and did another yeast staining to look at yeast viability. After that we did a Styles Tasting with Dr. Sacher. He concentrated on beers from the British Isles. We had a Fuller's London Pride, a Belhaven Wee Heavy, a St. Peter's Best Bitter and last a St. Peter's IPA. I have to say that I have never been impressed with anything St. Peter's has ever done. The IPA was super oxidized and the Bitter was just not good. The Belhaven was diffidently the ribbon taker in this round.

After lunch we had an introduction to the soft drink making equipment. Even though I am not really into making soda, it is an interesting process and it's one more thing for the ol' resume. Our final hour and a half of class was spent doing some calculations for the beer we would be making the next day.
After class we had a special treat. Seeing as how it was the 4th of July, the head of our program Michael Eder suggested we have a BBQ, so we did. It was great, the school payed for it and provided all the beer. We also kicked around a soccer ball and generally had a nice time celebrating America's birthday in a foreign country.

 Tuesday: Wow what a day. We brewed a truly amazing beer at school. The background on it is that it is a pilot batch for a German brewery that wanted to create a special beer. It was an "abby" beer with some serious credentials. Almost half of the malt bill was Einkorn, which is a relative to barley but husk-less and older in origin. The goal for the beer was to shoot for somewhere around 30 degrees plato, do a triple decoction, have 90 IBU's and do a two stage fermentation. Part one was done in an open fermenter with the Orval yeast. Part two will be with champagne yeast to dry it out a bit.
The brew day was quite the experience. The triple decoction was actually really fun and educational. One of the intriguing things was watching what is called the Maillard reaction in the brew kettle. It would happen as the decoction was being heated and would start with a darkening happening at the edges of the kettle, because that is where the heat was being supplied by steam. The other "fun" part was the 4.5 hour lauter. Being that the mash was so thick and the lauter tun is so poorly designed for the system it took a really long time. When we finally finished it turned out to be a 14.5 hour long brew day. I just went straight home to bed at that point, but it was worth it.

The Maillard reaction

 Wednesday: Our morning started with more time getting to know the soft drink producing equipment. Being that is a dosing system it takes a bit more time to learn the in's and out's of it. We then finished up our group project and presented it. The scenario we where given was to take an existing brewery and create a microbiological step control plan for a mid-size German brewery. Our flagship beer had honey in it so we had treat it slightly different because of the presence of melibiose sugar. I think our presentation went well but we will see when our final grades come out. Next we went and cleaned the dosing machine for the soft drink production. It was pretty cut and dry. At the end of the day the group I am in began our study of practical Malting. We started by reviewing some analytical steps, then actually went and did these steps. That began with weighing out two bags of barley, then we took whats called a representative sample from each bag, then we put them in to a special machine that looks at moisture and protein content. If it is with in spec, which it was, we next went to a grading machine which sieves out the sample to tell you the size's and percentage's of the kernels from the sample. Last we started doing what is called a germative capacity and a germative energy sample. This is done by putting 100 barley kernels into two petri-dish's one with 4ml of water and one with 8ml of water. Then over the next five days you count the germinating kernels. The results will tell you how to malt the barley.

Taking a representative sample
The sieving machine

Thursday: We were supposed to have a microbiology lecture in the morning but our instructor was sick so we got to sleep in a bit. When we finally did start school we started doing calculations for the soft drinks we will be making later. After that Andreas Richter from Weyermann malting came to talk to us about specialty malts. He also brought some malt samples with him as well as three beers made on their pilot system at the malt house. One was a Rye Bohemian Pilsner, one was their version of Rauch or smoked beer and the last was a Barley Wine that was fermented with wine yeast, then aged in whiskey barrels for two years. The base beer was really nice but the port or sherry like character of it didn't mix well with the whiskey flavor from the barels. It would have been way better if it had been stored in a wine barrel. The Pilsner was amazing. They had added some acidulated malt to it and it gave it a slightly tart note that mixed very well with the floor malted barley and the saaz hops. The Ruach beer was great too. Nice and smoky but well balanced. We spent the rest of the school day with Andreas talking about specialty malt, rauch beer and acidulated malt.

Friday: The morning lecture was all about soft drink ingredients such as preservatives, coloring agents, acids and such. I guess it was interesting but I was kind of spacing out. The next two lectures we finished our calculations for the four soft drink we will be making. It was good algebra practice and in the end kind of fun.
Later that night a group of us went out for Vietnamese food. I was quite ecstatic to have a giant bowl of Pho. It has been something I have missed a lot.  

Saturday: Saturday found us up early. I organized an outing for a group of us to head down to the Ayinger brewery in the town of Aying. We took the tour which started at 10am. The tour was conducted in German, but that was alright. We know the process pretty well. The main goal was to check out the facilities and see where Ayinger beer is made. They are one of my favorite German breweries. The woman giving the tour found out we were brewers and actually bowed to us. At one point in the tour we got a zwickle sample of their 100 year beer. It was nice and yeasty. They also have a lagering room where classical music is blasting and it has a light show to boot. After that they showed us a 3D film in German. Finally at the end we got a bunch of beers and I was able to pick up a few souvenirs. After the tour we walked into the town and had lunch at the hotel/bier garden that the brewery owns. It was a great outing and I was pretty excited to see the place.

The cellar

Zwickle sample

I want that painted on my wall.

Later that evening Kyle and Robbie came over for some beers and cribbage. We taught Robbie how to play, then he preceded to smoke us for the next two rounds. We had a few really nice beers as well. Those guys brought over some beer that they had picked up while we were at Braucon a few weeks ago. One of them was an imperial stout that was a little lack luster, but still a well made beer. The capper for the evening was the dopplebock. One of the "rules" with dopplebock is that the name should end with "ator". The folks at Braucon got creative with their naming.

Imperial Stout

Sunday: As is getting to be pretty typical I spent Sunday catching on some things, planning my return home, studying, doing laundry and the like. The weather has been finicky as of late making it hard to dedicate time to play soccer in the park. At this point we only have two more weeks of lectures then the last week is tests, keg filling and soft drink filling, then finally graduation. I can not wait.


  1. Hmmm, now that you are now able to brew your own beer, maybe you can also create your own version of sodas or lemon-lime drinks. Anyway, which kind of beer do you like brewing the most, the light or the dark ones?

    Rob Feckler

  2. Rob, I like both. I like that with light beer there is nothing to hide behind. Meaning that there can be no
    flaws. It sort of forces you to be a better brewer. That said I do enjoy brewing dark beers. I think getting color right is a fun challenge in itself.