Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It Was Like Wrestling An Alligator

Day two commenced much like day one -- with the hope that they were kidding about having me try every single job in the brewery.  No such luck.  As soon as 9AM rolled around and Walter rolled in and told me to "boot up,"I knew I was in for another one of those days.

The day was made even more interesting by the fact that my officemate rolled in to the office in a funk.  As it turns out, one can suffer from a contact funk.  Fortunately, when you are funkafied in the brewing world, that is still like being lethargic on the best day of your life.  This funkaliciousness (Note: not to be confused with Fergaliciousness. (Definition: make them boys go loco)) lasted until lunch.  (I also just wanted to see how many times I could use the word funk in a paragraph.)

The training day began by taking the gravities of the beers in the fermentation tanks.   When a beer enters it's primary fermentation, it is essential to monitor the vitals so that you know when the chemical reaction has concluded.  During the primary fermentation, the yeast eats the sugars and, as byproducts, produces carbon dioxide and alcohol (in case you are wondering, it is ethyl alcohol).  For an ale this process takes from 3-4 days and for a lager it can take from 7-14 days.  The measured gravities and temperatures indicate when the reaction has flatlined and the yeast may be extracted.

After being released from a meeting, I was once again given the opportunity to bask in the wisdom of Walter.  He told me that one of the beers was going to be dry hopped tomorrow (And no, that is not something that middle school kids do at a dance (Thanks for that line, Sam Adams employee)).   My mission, should I choose to accept it, was to hook up a bajillion hoses to R2Hop2, our dry hopping machine.  Let me tell you, not only are these hoses heavy, they are unyielding.  It was like wrestling an alligator.  Not only do you have to hold the heavy hose in one hand, you have to clamp it and close the clamp with the other hand.  When you are a Charles Atlas 98-pound weakling, this is more difficult than you can ever imagine. Walter kept offering to help me, because he is a stand-up guy like that.  However, my stubborn self came out in full force.  I told him that if regular employees could do it without help, I would do it without help too.  It took me 20 minutes to hook up one hose, but I could not give up once I made up my mind.  Fortunately, Walt is super patient and all that time gave him the opportunity to make up songs about the situation.

Then, it was time to Lauter Tun.  As I mentioned yesterday, I will eventually work my time down to 7 minutes.  In my head I have already decided that someday there will be a situation in which someone says "Dear God!  Can anyone clean this Lauter Tun in under seven minutes and save the children?" And I will be able to smile out of the corner of my mouth and say, "It is funny you would ask that, because yes. Yes, there is someone who can."

I started by pushing all of the grain to the sides of the Lauter Tun.  Then I asked Walt to get out his stopwatch, because I was going style. And by ninja style, I mean loudly and obviously.  That is what we call irony.

Things were going well for the first two minutes.  I squeegeed the sides well.  I pushed all of the grain down into the auger hole.  But then it was time to hose.  The first piece of pie went wonderfully.  In my head, I was already imagining beating the record, climbing out of the metal kettle, and being carried on my peer's shoulders like a god. In the midst of this reverie, I made a rookie mistake.  I let the pressure of the hose get too high.  It proceeded to knock grain all over the clean sections.  In my haste to correct that error, I dragged grain on the bottom of my shoes into the clean areas.  Things went from bad to a slapstick comedy in two seconds when I sprayed myself in the face with the hose.   The stopwatch read 11 minutes at this point.

After talking Walter into cleaning my glasses, because I cannot see a damn thing without them, I was back on the job. I had to re-do all of my work.  When I finally pulled myself out of the Lauter Tun, the watch read 18 minutes.  It was 7 minutes less than my time yesterday, but still not acceptable.  Today is a new day, however, and I suspect it is the day that I get the time down to at least 15 minutes.

The day ended well, with an Oak Barrel Stout and the backwards spelling game.  My new hobby is spelling words backwards and, when drinking, it becomes like Extreme Backwards Spelling.

No comments:

Post a Comment