Monday, July 25, 2011

Week 24

Monday: I was still pretty exhausted from my weekend of fishing, but I pressed on. We did malting again first thing in the morning. This time we were looking at germination. The rootlet formation was good and we checked the moisture content.

Malt sample


After that we had a 3 hour lecture titled Staff Management. It was supposed to be about leadership but it was a bit more like a motivational lecture. We talked a little about business structure but most of it was about who is in control of your life. It was actually a pretty nice talk. We have most of the day Thursday to continue the conversation. After lunch we had our final lecture with Dr. Zepf. He talked about yeast propagation, then spent some time telling us material to study for one of our final tests. We ended the day with another check on the malt.

Tuesday: Again we checked the malt in the morning. The modification was looking good based on the length of the acrospire on the malt. We then started the kilning process.

The acrospire is almost as long as the kernel.

 After that our group piled into the van again and drove to Salzburg to the Stiegl Brewery
We were helping with the brewing of a Roggenbeir brewed on their 10 hl. pilot system. They do special beers every month on this system. This particular recipe was special because all of the rye used was grown and malted just south of Salzburg. The recipe also had about 50 % rye which we thought might cause a problem in the lauter but they managed to make it work. While there we also got to try a few special beer they had produced. They had a great way that they aerated the yeast and not the beer. I may try to play around with that in the future. It involved a spray ball on a wand and a hose. After the brewing we had dinner and some beers in their beer garden before returning to Munich where we were greeted by an enormous thunderstorm.

The pilot brewhouse


Sampling the wort

A zwickle sample of their Vienna lager

 Wednesday: We spent the first couple of hours finishing up our malting. With the malt ready to go we just needed to clean off the rootlets and bag everything. We also ran a bunch of samples to see how we did. In the end we slightly over-modified the malt, but that's not a bad thing. If you were doing an infusion mash, this would be a great pale malt to use. The experience was really fun and I learned a lot more about malting. It would be fun to have a small pilot malting box to play around with.

Results of the Friabilameter

After the malting we went straight to the cellar for some filtering. The other group of our classmates had made a pilsner that had all sorts of problems with the fermentation and really tasted very strange. The idea with our filtering was to see if we could remove some of the stranger flavors by not only doing a D.E. filtration but also adding active carbon. We set the filter and got a really nice flow but alas the beer could not be saved. The active carbon is pretty amazing. It pretty mush stripped out most of the color and flavor leaving a watery diacatyl ridden liquid. It was very very strange. We decided to dump it. Hopefully we will have something else to filter next week.

Kyle steaming the filter

Dosing in the active carbon
The day was not not totally shot though. A couple of us went back to my place to do some studying. We also enjoyed a bottle of Cantillon Iris. This beer is different from a lot of their other beers in that they don't use unmalted wheat, just malted barley and they use fresh hops along with a dry hopping dosage in the barrel. It was very good.

Thursday: Our Staff Management lectures continued with almost 8 hours of sitting in the class. It really is an interesting discussion we were having. It has diffidently strengthened my drive to find a different work environment when I get home. Talking about all the ways to lead people, manage them, and generally just go about getting your job done helps to solidify my displeasure with the job I will be going back to. That said I have a new outlook on how to deal with the problems there and of course I am actively seeking brewing work so hopefully my time there is very limited.
After the all day lecture we had our final Styles Tasting with Dr. Saucher. He did a review of all of the styles we have talked about over the past 4 months then we ended it with a tasting of northern German top fermenting beers. We had a Muhlen Kolsch and a Pinkus Alt. The Alt was nothing like any other Alt's I have had. The color and bitterness were very low for that style. The Kolsch was a nice though with a slightly fruity/estery note to it along with a bit of SO2 in the flavor.

Left: Kolsch Right: Alt

 After class we had another BBQ. It was another nice time chatting classmates and eating great food. This time the beer was a little better because we had the beers we bottled last week so there was a pilsner, an English mild and our IPA.

Friday: Friday was a sobering day. We had 4.5 hours of microbiology review for our tests next week. One part was to identify 20 different samples. I did not do as well as I would have liked to but the weekend of studying helped.

Saturday: Study study study. Next week we basically have four exams. I was least confident about the microbiology exams, but after studying them most of the day Saturday I feel much better. I plan on one more session of studying the material on Monday.
After the long day of brain training a group of us went out to eat then decided to do a fun experiment. I had a few dopplebock's in my fridge and I wanted to do a blind tasting. Chris also had some that he added to it. There were four of us, Duncan, myself, Duncan's girlfriend Amy and Chris. Amy poured all the samples so we didn't know what was what except for her of course. We tasted them all, then secretly decided which was worst (6) up to which was best(1). Afterwards we compared the results. They were actually a little surprising. The Camba beers were both bourbon barrel aged so they were pretty obvious and not very good. All in all it was a fun experiment. I can't wait to try this more at home. Taste panels are really good for breweries and this is just one way you could see how your beer stacks up to the competition.

Duncan:                           Amy:                                Chris:                                   Sean:
1}Andechs                      1}Andechs                     1}Celebrator                         1}Riegele
2}Riegele                         2}Salvator                       2}Riegele                              2}Celebrator
3}Celebrator                    3}Camba Heller Bock    3}Salvator                               3}Salvator
4}Salvator                        4}Camba Dopplebock  4}Andechs                               4}Camba Dopplebock
5}Camba Dopplebock    5}Celebrator                  5}Camba Dopplebock              5}Camba Heller Bock
6}Camba Heller Bock     6}Riegele                       6}Camba Heller Bock            6}Andechs

Sunday: Study study study. This time I concentrated on the technology side of things as well as studying malt analysis and malting and brushing up on my calculations. I also did a brief review of yeast propagation and beer styles. This part of the test I feel fairly confident in. On Monday I will see how educated I really am. Then on Tuesday I will see how good my knowledge of microbiology is. It will be nice to have all the tests behind  so I can start getting ready to go home. I am ready.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Week 23

Monday: We began our school week by learning more Brewing Calculations. This time we worked on on speise and krausening figures for bottle conditioning. We also ran over figures and flow rates for filtering. The rest of the day we spent in the filling plant getting the system ready for Thursday when we filled 4 different things. One of the pre-requirements was we needed empty bottles. There was a few beers that were made at the school by other classes that were not very good so we emptied them. I believe it was somewhere around 220 cases. It was actually pretty fun. I also got to run the caustic cycle on the filler because I thought to wear pants and boots, and not shorts and flip-flops like some of the guys.

Emptying a lot of beer.

Tuesday: My group had our final brew day at Doemens. We did a Munich Helles. It was a pretty simple recipe. We used Pilsner malt that was malted at the school, plus 2% Cara-pils for a little body on the beer, and 1 kg of Acidulated malt to make up for the under modification of the Pilsner malt. We did a single bittering addition of Hallertau Tradition hops to get to 25 IBU's . The beer came in at 11.21 plato. We were aiming for 11.5 so not bad. We did it with minimal help from Micheal Eder which is a sign that we are learning their system. Too bad we will probably never use it again. The day went very smoothly and quickly.

Robbie & I doughing in.

Hop calculations

 Wednesday: Our day began with us actually starting our malting at the school. We basically just got more familiar with their system which is just a small saladin box used for pilot malting. We are making a Pilsner malt like the other group made. On this day we just did our initial water steeping to raise the moisture content, then an extended "dry steep".

Adding the malt to the saladin box

We spent the rest of the day doing soft drink sensory. It was kind of interesting to taste differences in these kind of drinks. I feel I have a really good beer palate but I have trained that pretty extensively. With soft drinks, which I really don't drink too many of, it was a little different. It all tastes really sweet to me. Not my drink of choice. At the end we got in groups and compared two cola's, then created a spider chart to show how the differences between the two looked.

Thursday: After a short time checking how our malt was coming along we went straight to the filling line. The goal was to fill 4 beers. Unfortunately there was a problem with the bottle inspector. We waited around until a solution was found. We were supposed to start bottling at 9:00am but we didn't start until 1pm. We were able to get it all done is a reasonable amount of time which was great. We ended up bottling a Radler, which is lemonade and Helles mixed, very popular here (yuk). We also bottled a pilsner that Michael Eder had made. Next was an English mild that the other group made and the most exciting for me was the IPA that our group made. We really all put in a god day of work. It was nice to do some physical labor for a change. I forgot how much I like doing that as apposed to sitting around all day.
When I got home that night I opened one of the IPA's to really check it out. It is a pretty nice beer. The Citra hops really come through in the flavor and aroma. I wish it had a bit more CO2, but it's really very drinkable.

Friday: Again we did malting in the morning. After that it was on to Microbiology lecture where we talked disinfecting.

To end the day we had another Styles Tasting. This time the focus was really on ale's. The selection of beers was pretty diverse for the Germans. We had a Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA, a Brewdog Dogma which is a honey and heather beer (yuk), an Old Tom Strong Ale, a St. Peters Cream Stout, a Fullers London Porter and finally a Left Hand Milk Stout. The Old Tom was my favorite. It had a nice sherry like note to it and was just really nice...quaffable as they say.

After school I went back to my apartment to get ready to go away for the weekend. I was heading to Slovenia to fish with my Austrian friend Tom, and some of his friends. There was one slight problem. I ended up missing my train. I had to take another train to Salzburg then catch a later train to Villach Austria where I was meeting Tom. I finally arrived two hour late. We jumped straight into his van and headed to Slovenia. We drove up some crazy mountain roads, peed at the border, got lost, then finally found where we supposed to go. Luce, Slovenia. The staff at the place where we stayed was nice enough to stay up and cook us dinner. This was at about midnight. We also had some Slovenian beer. It was a pretty run of the mill lager, but still good. Slovenia has a pretty good hop growing region, so I hope there were Slovenian hops in the beer.

Saturday: We woke up early, had some breakfast then hit the river. The morning was a bit cloudy but once it cleared up the fishing really improved. I got a lot fish and had some nice alone, in my head time. This felt good because I have really been trying to figure out what I am going to do when I get back to Portland work wise. Having this time to not be thinking about school work really gave me some clarity and what I think will be a good direction for me.

After we finished fishing we hit a tiny road side bar for another Slovenian beer. Lasko is one of the more popular beers there. The first one I had was oxidized. The second was better, again a pretty run of the mill lager, but it tasted wonderful after a long day of hiking and fishing. 

Sunday: We were up early again, had some breakfast and hit a different part of the river. This was lower down and the fish were reported to be bigger. After driving around a bit we finally found a spot. There were 5 of us at this point, which is a little too crowded for me but we soon spread out. I ended up fishing at one spot for most of the day. There were a bunch of really nice fish there and I kept catching them, so why leave?
I caught two really nice fish in row and shortly afterwards Tom came back down river. He was fishing a bank below me when I had heard some strange noises from around where he was. Suddenly I heard a loud crack, and turned around to see a pretty fair sized tree fall in the water. Luckily Tom had moved down stream. We fished for a bit a more, then decided to pack it up. Tom's friend Phillip had had a frustrating day of losing fish but he stayed to try one more cast, and sure enough hooked a monster rainbow trout on a streamer. It was a nice way to end a day of fishing.

On the way back we almost ran out of gas, but finally found some. Then Tom had to drive like an indy car racer on the Autobahn to get me to my train. We pulled up to the train station I jumped out, and had to sprint to get on my train. I made it with 10 seconds to spare. Beyond the crazy traveling, the weekend was one that I will never forget. Slovenia is an amazing place. I really want to take my brother back there because I know what he likes and this would be heaven for him, it was for me.

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.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Week 21

Monday: I started my week by becoming a legal temporary resident of Munich. I had to do this because I have been here longer than a standard visa allows. It was a kind of crazy process dealing with agencies that are only open from 8 to 12, but now it's all done. Dealing with their hours of operation also meant I missed a little bit school which I didn't want to do but business needed to be taken care of.

When I did finally get back to class it just after lunch and we went straight into starting a group project where we are given a scenario where we need to come up with a plan then, present it later. We have done this before in previous segments, but this time it's graded. I think we will do well though.
After that we had an hour and a half lecture on yeast propagation in the microbiology lab. At the end we actually propagated some wort with fresh culture yeast from slant agar. After school was over I spent the next two hours being filmed and interview for a kind of "top secret" project that I am involved in. We ended the night with some food and beer from Hirschgarten which is the largest beer garden in Munich. There is also a pen with goats and deer in it, it's kind of weird.

Propagated yeast in the incubator

Tuesday: We were up bright and early and in a van headed to Augsberg to go brew a batch of beer at the Riegele brewery. The facility was amazing. They had a 1 hl pilot system for us to brew on.

They had already planned for us to brew another IPA, so that's what we did. The brewmaster hung around for a bit to show us how the system worked then left saying "You are brewers, you know what to do". It was a great experience. The guys doing the filming for the "top secret" project were also able to film a bunch of stuff there as well.
Riegele is pretty special for a few reasons. Their owner is the 2nd world champion beer sommelier ever (I met the first in Austria in April). The second great thing about the brewery is their pilsner. I guess it wins the European Beer Star award every year. I can believe it. It has a nice malty flavor, with a nice bitterness. It finishes dry with a floral hop character to it. They left quite a bit of it for us to drink.

We hit all of our numbers for the IPA, and sent it to the fermenter. The whole experience reminded me of homebrewing a lot. They gave us a nice tour of the brewery after we finished brewing and cleaning up. One of the highlights was touring the maturation cellar. They blast Beethoven for the beer to mature to. It was pretty awesome.

They were very gracious hosts as is usual around here. When we got back Robbie, Kyle and I met up with the guys that were filming at Wilderhirsch for food and beer. The director of our program showed up and joined us. It was nice to sit and talk and enjoy some great beer, some great food, with some great company in an amazing place.

Wednesday: We started our morning doing work on our group project. Then we started the first of many lectures on Cleaning and Disinfecting. After a quick lunch we took a field trip over to the Spaten Brewery located near the main train station in Munich. The tour was an interesting one. They have a giant facility. They also are connected to the Franziskaner and Lowenbrau brands as well as the sight it self. Imagine a two block wide by two blocks long brewing compound. We only toured the Spaten side though. Part of the tour was the museum in the basement. They has a lot of interesting memorabilia including a bottle of Lowerbrau that was on board the Hindenburg.  After the tour we went up in their tower to the special events braustubel and enjoyed some good beer with some amazing views.

The tower

On board the Hindenburg.

Looking east towards Munich
We ended the evening with an evening of conversation and drinks at the Augustiner Keller bier garden. It was fun though slightly regretted the next day.

Thursday: Thursday was very similar to Wednesday. We started the day doing group project work, had a Cleaning and Disinfecting lecture then this time went to Paulaner Brewery. They are loactated on the east side of the Isar river in Munich. The facility is huge too with an annual production of 2.8 million hectoliters. They not only produce Paulaner products but Hacker Pschorr as well. The tour was really nice and they gave us free beer and lunch afterwards. I opted for the Salvator Dopplebock for my beer. I have had it before but never at the brewery where it was made.

This doesn't work anymore

Maturation tanks


Friday: The morning consisted of doing more group project work, followed by a Beer Styles lecture/tasting. This time we finished our talk about Berliner Weisse, and then moved on to Gueze and Lambics. The three beers we tried were the Boon Gueze, Boon Kriek, and De Ranke Kriek. The Gueze was highly carbonated. So much so that when I freed the wire cage the cork shot straight off. I was not the only one this happened to either. I prefered the De Ranke out of all of them. The Gueze is good, it's just not my favorite. The Boon Kriek reminds me of cherry cough drops. The De Ranke is nice and dry, has a good Brett character and has a bit more acidic acid in it. After class, I went to the very far north of Munich to pick up a special package dealing with the "top secret" project. It was quite an adventure.


Saturday: I spent the majority of the day studying, relaxing and cleaning up my place. One of my classmates who lives in the same building was celebrating his birthday, so we decided to open up some nicer beers. I brought up an Orval, plus we had a Rodenbach Grand Cru, but the true icing on his barley based birthday cake was a bottle of  Cantillon St. Lamvinus. This is such a wonderful beer. It was a great pleasure to share this beer with some good guys.

Later in the evening Kyle, and Robbie came over to help me out with trying the contents of the package acquired on Friday. Part of the "top secret" project is that I designed a beer recipe that may be used in someone's project or business rather. They sent me a bottle of the first test batch, that is beyond what I have homebrewed already. The beer is a pilsner. With it I was trying to get the higher bitterness and the dry/malty/crisp finish of a northern German pils, coupled with Saaz hop finish of the Bohemian Pilsners. I really feel the test batch represents that well. There are a few things I might change but over all I really enjoyed the beer. 


Sunday: I wish I could say I did something fun and exciting but alas laundry needed doing and schoolwork needed studying. One thing that has been occuring this week is the realization that my days here in Munich are numbered. Along with this comes the planning and organizing I need to do to first get home, then when I do get home, I think I have a pretty good plan with some good possibilities on the horizon, but time will tell. Until then my head is down focused mostly on school work but is sometimes easily distracted when I think about going home, because I am ready to be there now (sigh).