Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Week 25

Monday: We had the first two final exams on Monday. The first was a multiple choice test and the second was an essay. After completing the multiple choice test we had a pretty long break before the essay part. Everyone I talked to struggled with the multiple choice test including yours truly, but I felt alright about it. After lunch we did the essay test. We were given the task of describing how to create a crisp clean pilsner and describing the process from mill to maturation tank. We were given the choice between two different malts along with their malt analysis' and there was a list of hops to choose from as well. I felt pretty good about how I answered. We will see though. We got out early enough to do some studying for the microbiology exams the next day.
Through out the week some of us had been trying to finish off the non-German beers that we had been saving. So for a celebration of what we hoped was all passing marks we drank the Chimay red label and all three of the Westvleteren's. The 12 was by far the best in my opinion. The Blonde was good but thin, and the 8 had a weird plastic like taste to it that was off putting.

Two different labels, same beer.

Tuesday:  We had our last two finals for the course. This time it was microbiology focused. It was set up so that two people would go to the lab at the same time. One would do identification and the other would talk to two other professors about plating and such. Then we would switch. I had the plating conversation first. I was asked what would I do if I had fresh wort that I wanted to analyze. That one was pretty easy as I had studied that pretty hard. When it came to the identification part I was given two petri-dish's and told they were microorganisms found in my water supply. I then had to set up the microscope, identify them and explain why they could be bad for a brewery. The nice thing is I studied my microorganisms pretty hard as well and was actually able to identify the first one by just looking at the color of the colony's on the petri-dish. It was Rhodotorula Glutinis which is a wild yeast found in the air and in water. It's not too big issue in the brewery because it doesn't ferment. It's presence is just a sign of insufficient cleaning. It's really easy to identify because it forms red colonies. The next one I was able to get pretty quickly after I smelled it. It was E. Coli. That is not something you want in your water. Most E. Coli. is not pathogenic though. If that's found in your water you need to talk to the city or who ever isn't washing their hands after using the restroom.
Feeling pretty good about the two exams a group of us decided to head out toWeihenstephan. Their big claim to fame is they are the worlds oldest brewery. They also have a university on the premises dedicated to brewing. We had a great time enjoying the weather in the beer garden and trying the different beers. One of the guys bought a bottle of Infinium which is a collaboration beer between Sam Adams and Wiehenstephan. This is supposed to be some revolutionary beer, but I found it to be rather boring.


The famous wheat beer

Wednesday:  We were supposed to make and fill our soft drinks but a special part was missing so we just switched what we were going to do on Thursday and that was filtering and transferring some beer. We filtered an IPA that the owner of the Regele brewery had made at the school as well as the Helles that my group had made. The Helles turned out to be a great beer. I was actually kind of surprised. The day was pretty long and most of us were a little rough around the edges from celebrating the day before but we pressed on and got the beer filtered. We also transferred the giant abbey beer we had made earlier in the month. According to lab results from the Alcholizor it was still fermenting with the primary Orval yeast and was at about 11.2% alcohol. It really is too bad we won't get to try this beer. Maybe when it is on the market commercially.

Before filtering: L: Helles R: IPA



Thursday: We finally made our soft drinks. The day turned out to be long and full of little problems but we got it done on a skeleton crew. After Tuesday a few people didn't even show up for the rest of the week. Seems crazy to me but in the end it's nice to have fewer people there. We made three different soft drinks. One was a raspberry flavored one that ended up freezing a pump on the mixing unit. It was quite the challenge to get it flowing again but we did.

It looks worse than it was.
 The other task a couple of us did was to fill kegs with our Helles. It wasn't the most exciting job but still educational non the less.

 Friday: After getting to sleep in a bit we met up at the school to get our grades and to take a class photo in front of the school. In the end everyone passed, what a relief.
I spent the rest of the day packing and shipping out some stuff that wouldn't fit in my suitcases. Later that night I all met up Kyle and Robbie to finish off the last beers from my fridge. One was a year and a half old Orval and the other was the Duvel Triple Hop. Both beers were fantastic. The Duvel is something I am going to play around with at home. I really like the spiciness and fruitiness of the dry hopping and with the clean crisp beer backbone.

Later we all met up at the Hofbrau Keller for a huge graduation ceremony. The German students were also graduating so the place was packed. There were probably about 300 people there. Most of it was in German of course but a little boring for those of us who only know a little German. It was still a fun night. Some of us pooled together to get Michael an "Eder Litre", some cigars and some Simpsons socks. He really like all of them. I said goodbye to a lot of people and thanked professors and such. It was nice to finally be done with it.

Kieth Lemke giving a speech

Kyle approves

Saturday: I woke up, packed the last few things of mine and caught the train to the airport. There were 5 of us all booked on the same flight back to Chicago. We all met up and had a final beer at Airbrau, then at 3:40pm Munich time left Germany. On the flight home my movie screen didn't work so I just sat there for 9 hours. We landed in Chicago at 6:20pm. After getting through customs I said my goodbyes to those guys then headed over to the domestic terminal. After about an hour I got on plane headed for Portland. At 11:30pm Portland time I landed. Jen was there waiting for me, which was awesome!! It was an emotional reunion. Being apart form your partner for 6 months is very hard. It was a strange feeling to finally be home.

Sunday: We got back to the house and had a beer, ate some food ad chatted for awhile before going to bed. I slept for about 3 hours then finally got up. Jen and I had some breakfast and visited some friends. I spent the rest of the day unpacking, then in the evening Jen made some pasta and clams. A group of friends came over and we had a nice time in the backyard.
It is a strange feeling to finally be home and to acclimate myself back to American culture. I am excited to get out and start putting all my knowledge to use. I plan on keeping the blog going with fewer posts mostly talking about some exciting home brewing experiments that I am doing or when I am hired somewhere talking about some fun stuff I am doing there. The journey continues...............................................