Tuesday, March 13, 2012

All In All, It Was A GRATE Day!

Last week, I was once again given the opportunity to enjoy the metallic coffin that is the Lauter Tun.  You see, once a week or so, the kettles all undergo something that is referred to as CIP (which in my mind still stands for Capital Improvement Program).  This is the process whereby all of the equipment is scrubbed and cleaned within an inch of its life.

Favorite Early Brewer Dan was telling me how difficult the CIPing of the Lauter Tun is, so of course, I wanted a turn to try.

Damn, it feels good to be a brewer
The reason why this is more difficult than normal Lauter Tun cleaning time (Everytime I say that, the lyrics to Peanut Butter Jelly Time get stuck in my head for days) quickly became apparent.  As it turns out, the little pie pieces that I cleaned so compulsively weeks ago actually lift out of the plate in which they are set.  And that plate has grain residue stuck to the bottom that needs to be cleaned.

All of the pie pieces have to be lifted in the proper order, because they are interlocking, and the first piece is screwed into the base plate.  Dan unscrewed the first piece, and then showed me how the other pie grates have to be slid toward you and then balanced against the wall.  This has to be done 10 times AND THE GRATES ARE FREAKING HEAVY. I know this because I dropped one on my leg while I was hosing things down.

This is what the pie pieces in the Lauter Tun look like, just FY-izzle
As indicated, each of these grates has to be hosed down.  Any of the grains that might have become stuck in the little grates on the plates (call me "Dr. Seuss") has to be scrubbed and washed out.   Dan scrubbed the individual pieces. I then hosed the grate down by leaning it toward myself and spraying my jeans with water. 

We had some riveting conversations while cleaning.  As it turns out, I am not the only person who thinks that the acoustics in the Lauter Tun are fabulous. I also found out that Dan also usually has to CIP the Lauter Tun by himself.  

When that was finished, the whole Lauter Tun was filled with boiling hot water.  Once it had been emptied, we cooled it down with the hose (thanks to the steam, my skin has never been better), and jumped back in to replace the pie pieces.  It is a lot harder to put the pieces back than it is to take them out.  It was like playing a deviated form of Tetris. 

I am proud to report that I only smashed my fingers three times between the plates and it was only two days before I could use my hands again. All in all, it was a GRATE day (see what I did there?).

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