This is where I will try to post, as often as I can, on beer topics that are related to my beer, the beer I drink, and my beer education.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Job offers, 2 in 1 day; Woohoo!

I interviewed with The Old Market Pub & Brewery on Monday. Within an hour of being there, he offered me the position and asked me to start the following day. I ended up asking to think about it for a couple of days. It turned out that Pyramid called to offer me a position during my interview.
So, today I called Old Market to decline my first brewing job offer.
There is one catch with Pyramid though. They have a brewer leaving on the 15th of September, but they are only 90% sure that they want to hire someone to replace him. There is a small chance they will decide to not hire someone until next spring. However, if they do hire someone, it will definitely be me.
It was a tough decision.
Pyramid offers: good pay, insurance, excellent benefits, 40+ hrs per week, incremental raises, upward mobility etc. Also, my title would be "Brewer", ability to work in all stages of the brewing process, and the commute is only 6 miles (I could bike there).
Old Market offers: low pay, no insurance or benefits, 10-35 hrs per week, possibility of raises, etc. Also, my title would be "Assistant Brewer", the majority of my time would be spent washing kegs, and the commute is 12.6 miles (I would not want to bike that).

Friday, August 04, 2006

Update on the search for brew jobs

I finally heard back from Bridgeport today, apparently they decided to transfer a person from the bottling department to the brewery. Oh well...
McMenamins actually mailed me a letter to tell me they are not interested in brewery employees that are not current employees at one of their many locations. If that is not a ridiculous policy, then I don't know what is.
I am still waiting to hear from Pyramid, a few weeks ago they said that they think they will be hiring someone in September. However, the Head Brewer is currently not returning my calls, I hesitate to define exactly what that means.
On a good note, I applied for a recently advertised job today. I saw the posting an hour after it was posted, and I had applied for it 15 minutes later. Hopefully that will classify me as "eager".
Oh, I almost forgot, the job was at The Old Market Pub & Brewery in SW Portland. They are going to open a new location on the East Side soon.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Brew class is over

As most of you know, I am officially done with class. My exams went well, though I will not receive my official exam results for a couple more months.
I spent the last two weeks in Portland house hunting and job searching. Most of the brewers I visited seemed to really want to hire me, but had no current openings. Both Bridgeport and Pyramid should have openings within the next 2 or 3 months and they will be contacting me accordingly. I have also recently applied to McMenamin's. Other than that I have been "knocking on doors" looking for brewing jobs at the smaller brewpubs, and I will continue to do that once I get back up to Portland. The nice part about the Portland beer scene, is that the list of breweries is almost never ending.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Almost finished

Today I sat 2 of my exams. I've studied hard and I think they went very well. Though after 6 hours of writing, my hand is rather sore, especially my middle finger. Ah well, three more hours of exam tomorrow morning and it will all be over. Its almost sad. I'd post more about it, but I think my time would be better spent doing some more last minute studying. Maybe tomorrow I will post more. Then again, I may end up a little drunk tomorrow. Perhaps the day after?

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Last day of "class"

I know I said before that it is mostly review from now on out, but now I really mean it this time.
Yesterday was our last day of official class for the program, even though we have basically been reviewing the original material for the last 6 weeks. We will now have 3 weeks of review sessions, then we will take our exam. Since the exam consists of 3 separate essays exams, each devoted to a different section of our course, we will devote one week a piece to each of the three "papers" (raw materials, yeast and fermentation, and packaging and engineering). It should be good, though I could always use more studying, I am already feeling pretty confident.
After class yesterday, my professor bought everyone in my class a beer. We do have beer on tap in the back of the class room, but it currently tasting pretty stale. It was quite nice sitting out on the patio outside Sudwerk's with a liter of IPA after a very long half-day of class.
And I learned a couple of fun facts:
You can fulfill your daily caloric intake by consuming 5.3 to 5.7 liters of beer per day (this is based upon a 2400 calorie per day allowance)
If a man was so inclined to grow breasts, he could do so by increasing his estrogenic intake. To do so with beer, he would have to consume about 10 liters per kilogram that he weighs per day.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Craft Brewers Conference

The CBC went pretty well. It was a very well organized event, and beer was flowing where ever I went. If one was not careful, it would have been easy to drink too much. Overall, I think I sampled about 50 beers that week, though many of those samples were just sips from my classmates beers. One of the samplings was 4 cask ales, all the same batch of beer, but each cask was dry hopped with a different type of hop (2 of them were Simcoe and Cascade, I don't remember the others). To nobody's surprise, the cascade was terrific, but the simcoe was really good too, it had that citrus/grapefruit aroma and tasted terrific. After asking nicely, one of the hop suppliers at the Trade Show gave me a 6 oz sampler of Simcoe pellets. I can't wait to try them in my next batch of IPA.
It was crazy how many brewers brought with them kegs of their newest seasonal. A lot of them were Imperial IPA's, and most of the ABV's on those seasonal were between 6.5 and 9.5%. Very big beers.
The seminars, for the most part, were very informative. But my favorite speech was definitely the keynote address given by Sam Calagione, owner and brewer of Dogfish Head Brewery. If anybody can find it on the web, I would highly recommend reading it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Mostly review from now on out

The weekly schedule for the next several weeks has finally been worked out. We receive 3 brewing review sessions per week. And these review sessions are going very well. So far the lab is not as useful as expected. Before we were told we would be able to brew a couple times on 3 different systems. Now it seems we will be allowed to brew on one system one time.
However, most likely because of this, our head instructor has set it up so that later next week we will get to brew at a "brew on premises" brewery. It should be a fun time and an excellent learning experience. As a class we get to decide on a standard beer to make (i.e. pale or amber ale), and then we will do several variations to it in separate batches (i.e. dry hopping additions, hop extract additions, use of different barley varieties, dark malt extract additions, lager yeast substitutions to the finished wort). We should be able to make 5 or 6 twelve gallon batches. I'm kind of excited about it.
In lab, the beer we make will be Aggie's special Lager, which is possibly the most boring recipe ever created. I haven't yet seen the specs, but I have been told it is brewed with 100% 2-row pale malt and the Budweiser yeast secret yeast strain (though we will not be told it's name). We should be brewing it next week or the week after. I will wait until then to judge the quality of this "learning experience".
After class today, 8 of us got together to play volleyball, I still have sand in my hair.
2 days ago we played wiffle ball after class, the weather is finally nice and we are taking advantage of it.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Class cut short

Our class was truncated to only one hour today, since the professor had to leave early for a meeting. It was nice to have a short day, allowing our spring break to start a little early.
I will be attending the 2006 Craft Brewers Conference, held in Seattle this year. Lindsay and I will leave early tomorrow morning to make the 14 hour drive to Bellingham, where we will hang out until Tuesday, when my conference will start. I hope to make many as many contacts as possible during this trip. Actually, I have already scheduled an interview with Rock Bottom for Thursday afternoon.
After class, I went to my classmate's house where my all-grain nut brown ale resides, dubbed Squishy #3, to keg it. I racked it to the keg, bled off the oxygen, and pressurized it to 10 PSI. This is not exactly the standard method for carbonating kegs, but since I will be out of town for a week and a half, it should do the trick. Otherwise it will be a learning experience in adjusting the carbonation level. It tastes pretty good, though a bit strong and bitter.
I should probably expand a bit on yesterday's AB tasting session, based on the amount of comments.
The "Spyke" flavors are spicy mango, spicy lime, hot chocolate, and hot melon. The colors appear highly flourescent, reminiscent of putting high-lighter markers inside liquor bottles in the dorms, and the tiny bottles seem all too similar to lava lamps.
The Wild Blue is an 8% ABV lager with a lot of wild blueberries added to give it a dark blue color. Apparently wild blueberries are higher in antioxidants than conventional blueberries. This beer is made normally all the way through filtration, then the blueberry puree is added and it precipitates out pretty well. You'll find a bit of sediment in the bottle but nothing overwhelming. The reason for such a late addition of the fruit is that the pectin content clogs the filter.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Guest Speaker from Anheuser Busch

Today's guest speaker, Nathaniel Davis from AB, gave a great presentation, and he is a 1999 graduate from my program. The presentation was mostly focused on marketing and innovation. AB is working very hard at expanding their market share in the malt beverage industry. Some of the phrases used today were: "Pimp your beer" and "individualize your beer experience" just to give you an idea.
Did you know AB produces over 100 million barrels of beer annually in this country alone?
At the end we were able to sample 5 or 10 of their new products, some of which have not yet reached test locations. Very interesting stuff. I must admit that I have a really hard time supporting one of their specific products. "Spykes", is a malt based beverage, 12% ABV, comes in 4 wildly colorful flavors in 1.7 ounce bottles, and has the appearance of perfume bottles.
The idea is to pour a small amount of the bottle into a light beer, giving it a kick in alcohol and flavor content.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

More yeast and engineering

Yesterday we had our first Lab, and it concerned yeast and fermentation. We were able to analyze 3 types of yeast under the microscope, and we tested them for vitality by staining the samples with Methelyne Blue (the dead ones stain blue). Then we took fresh samples and practiced counting cells (not terribly exciting), to find a percentage of live cells. We also differentiated between ale and lager yeast, by growing them in melibiose solution (only lager yeast can ferment this particular sugar) and at 37 degrees Celsius (only ale yeast can grow at this temperature). On Thursday we will visit the samples to see how our experiment worked.
Today the guest speaker, Tom Shellhammer from OSU, lectured again. Last time he discussed packaging, yet today he giving us a comprehensive review on engineering, since he used to teach our engineering class for about 12 years. He delivers the material very well, especially considering the dryness of the material. At one point when discussing refrigeration, condensation, evaporation, and expansion, he took us downstairs to the brewery to show us how Sudwerk's refrigeration unit works. To be honest, it was the first time we used the brewery downstairs as an educational tool. It was very effective and I hope it gets used that way again.
***Please note sarcasm.