Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Drankin Foul Beer... For Knowledge!

I attended my first Cap & Hare Homebrew Club meeting as an official member last night. The meeting was held at Rahr Brewery, so it wasn't hard to make it. I worked a little late and just happened to be early. Good folks and great beer... but then there was the foul beer. They purchased a sensory training kit from the Siebel Institute with samples of different infections to add to good beer, so that tastes and smells could be identified. Along with each picture was a description of the infection and explanations of what causes it. Very good stuff to know if you are home brewing or working in a brewery (like me) or just for the knowledge. Most of the beers smelled worse than they actually tasted, but a couple were very bad on both accounts. The great thing about a Cap & Hare meeting is that there is always great home brew to help wash away something like infected beer samples. As I read the descriptions, it was hard to believe I was drinking these on purpose. Glad to have had the opportunity though. For the record, the Indole smelled more like Outdo, if you catch my drift.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Beer Plumbing

The bottling line at Rahr Brewing is new... and I-talian. It came with a manual, also in I-talian. We've just kinda had to figure it out, as many breweries do.

In the breaking-in period, we have had to make some adjustments and modifications. Being the Master Plumber, I get to do a lot of it. Being an I-talian machine, nothing was standard, so I had to improvise. And since it was custom, I signed it with solder.

Beer is sticky and filling bottles with it makes a mess. We needed to rinse them off as they came out of the capper. Easy business... I just tapped into the water feed that runs across the top of the unit, added a valve, then another tee with a couple of drops which I drilled small holes into and PRESTO! Rinsed bottles.

I didn't love it, but it was functional. A few weeks back, we had an intern at the brewery who suggested using shower heads like he had seen at another brewery. GREAT idea! And very easy to put into place, plus giving me the opportunity to make it look prettier. Sometimes, even if it works fine, if it's ugly I hate it. I have to look at it all the time. So.... about $20 in parts and now we have a much better, more sightly bottle rinser. Next up, air knife to dry them.

Bottling line is in full effect now, pumping out up to 1200 cases a day. It's a fantastic thing to watch, just wear ear plugs. And be thirsty!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Ill Communication

Took my kiddo to the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo this weekend. We did the requisite midway rides, a walk through the cattle barn and watched part of a cattle auction. Her favorite part is the agriculture and farming section for children. Always fairly enjoyable, I don't mind it too much. I walked around while she watched what she later called the "most boring 'magic' show ever". I discovered something I later decided was propaganda. It was three simple lists of products made from wheat, corn and rice. The first one I read was wheat. I fully expected to see beer listed as one of the products made from wheat, but it wasn't listed. I chalked it up to the fact that it was an exhibit for children. Then, to my surprise, I read the products made from rice and corn only to find that beer and brewing were both listed. WTF?! The Big 3 are hitting them young, dang it! I'm calling the President. If you drink beer made with corn or rice, YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. That is all...

Monday, January 17, 2011

Waiting on a Troll

Should be in the 817 this week, thanks to my favorite shop Trinity Bicycles. One of two that I have heard about. It's going to be a good one! That's right... I'm talking about the Surly Troll. I'm going to build a commuting machine from this frame, piece by piece as funds allow. The hardest part will be waiting to finish.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Top Secret Brew

With the guidance and assistance of my good buddy Nick from the Cap and Hare Homebrew Club and ingredients from our supply at Rahr, I made a dream come true. We brewed a 10 gallon batch of a beer I've been dreaming about for a long while. More details will come, closer to the time that it's ready to drink, but for now... I will keep it mostly a secret. Let's just say, if you know me, it shouldn't be too hard to figure out. I'm learning more and more about brewing and loving every minute of it. If you are lucky, you'll get to taste it at a Wednesday tour at Rahr. If you are really lucky, it might make it to small production in the near future.