Friday, February 10, 2012

It Would Be Funny To Brush a Squirrel's Teeth

To say that Wednesday was a busy day would be the world's biggest understatement (it would be like saying that it would be funny to brush a squirrel's teeth...duh it would be hilarious. Especially with whitening toothpaste).  While I have officially finished rubber booting,  I keep getting called back into the world of brewing to help with various operations.  On Wednesday, that operation was firkin rolling.  It is exactly what it sounds like.

As this picture demonstrates, oral hygiene is very important to many squirrels.   Little known fact:  Aquafresh toothpaste is the choice of 92% of squirrels.
Many people are unacquainted with what exactly a firkin is.  Let me explain it simply:  it is derived from the Middle Dutch word vierdekijn which means exactly what it sounds like.  For the Middle Dutch uneducated (school systems these days, eh?), that literally translates to "quarter keg." They are also known for containing "cask conditioned" beers.

For many brewers, firkins provide an opportunity to experiment with their creations after the actual brewing process has been completed.   You can add anything to the cask and it will always be a one of a kind creation.  We recently tapped a firkin of our bourbon barrel stout (which is THE most delicious thing ever.  Not to make you too jealous, but there is a .02% chance that you will ever get to try it) at the Ernest & Scott grand opening in Wilmington.

This is a Firkin.
Anyway, once you have a firkin, you have to keep waking up the yeast (they are lazy little bastards).  That is where firkin rolling comes in.  When I was solicited for help, I was imagining something along the lines of log rolling.  It was more like a game of kick the can/Brittney hitting people with heavy casks.   We literally spent 30 minutes just rolling kegs around the brewery; it was like being Sisyphus.

When we had finished that, Chris the Brewer, informed me that he had recently been clocked at 3:13 for cleaning the Lauter Tun.  Of course I told him that I could do better. A strange, cultish set of rules has begun to form as a result of the Lauter Tun competition.  Time starts the moment you jump down the hole and ends the moment that your whole body is completely out.  You have the choice of two implements now:  squeegee or shovel.  And there has to be less than a silver dollar worth of grain left in the tank for your time to be official.

This picture cannot show you that I was singing "Lauter Tun Time" to the tune of "Hammer Time." But you can use your imagination.  Why yes! I do sound like Cher when I sing.
So there I was in the Lauter Tun again, facing the task at hand with great trepidation. You see, Chris had just informed me that the rakes were no longer functioning properly and I was now standing shin deep in grain (it was like being in a rice paddy...probably).  IT IS NOT EASY TO SHOVEL WET GRAIN THAT IS UP TO YOUR KNEES!  Especially when the most physical activity you undertake every day is reaching for the Triscuits on your desk.  I can't lie, it definitely took me over 20 minutes to get the Lauter Tun clean.  Then, as it turned out, the boots I had borrowed for the task had really deep treads.  And those treads had grain stuck in them.  Consequently, every time I stepped onto the piece of pie that I had cleaned, I dragged grain with me.  I would have felt very defeated if I had not been wearing my Batman t-shirt.

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