Crazy. That’s what I can say about the past two weeks. I got back from Colorado and was a picture of health the next day (as is tradition), and then interviewed for a new position within my company.
I’m now the Craft Beer and Menu Pairing Specialist. That means you’ll be seeing gratuitous photos of deliciousness I consume and pair with even more delicious craft beer, events I’m lucky enough to be able to attend, as well as beer-food recipes I’m hoping to start making once the craziness subsides. I celebrated in the best way I know how – Ladyface Alehouse for mac ‘n cheese with bacon, jalapeno and salt and vinegar chips on top with a Sour Cherrie Brown ale. Topped THAT off with a Picture City Porter, of course.
On top of the new job, I’m also getting a new car (hopefully) if I get approved for financing (oh, I do hope so!)!
Charlie has been with me for over five years!
She kept me safe when two big scary guys tore off her siding with their big, bully car in the middle of LA.I purchased her brand new shoes to make her feel a little more beautiful after the scars… Anyone want to buy her? She’s looking for a loving home within the LA area!
I’m also considering yet ANOTHER shift of homes. Hopefully this will be the last one for quite a while. Four moves in less than ten months is starting to slowly kill me from the inside out.
For now, thank you for having patience and bearing with me as I slowly go insane. The camera is coming back out, the recipes will start to flow and all of my fun times will once again be recorded for all to vicariously consume!
Day three of Wolf Creek Unplugged!
Today was brew day! Typically we have up to two brew days per week, seeing that our fermentor and bright tank space is limited. This week’s single brew was Surfin’ Monks. I was up at 5:45am, inhaled a mug of coffee and headed over to the brewery.
We mashed in with 850lbs of grain.
Delicious malted barley!
It was so windy this morning that we had to wedge the used bags underneath the truck tires, and they still tried to fly away on us.
Breakfast was next. Meghan, the pastry chef at Wolf Creek, has to trim the edges off of her brownies and lemon bars so they are pretty when served, and we get to reap the benefits! I make multiple trips per day to the kitchen to chow down on these. I should probably stop doing that…
We do a step mash where we slowly “step” up the temperature at different intervals then allow it to rest so the starches can convert to sugars.
After the final temperature step is hit, we begin sparging and transferring the beer over to the boil kettle.
Water is sprayed over the grain bed in order to drain all of the sugary wort from the mash tun.
While we wait for the boil kettle to finish filling with said wort, we consume more foods. Chipotle tenders with a side of asparagus! If I add asparagus, then my meal is healthy. That’s just how it works.
We came back from lunch to find a wonderfully drained mash tun and a full kettle, rapidly approaching a rolling boil.
(Relatively) dry grain bed.
At this point, Rick and I open up the mash tun and start scraping out all of the drained mash into big garbage cans so I can hop in there and scrub it out.
It’s around 92 degrees when I get in there, and I’m kneeling on 174 degree steel plates. I lose about ten pounds of sweat every brew day. It’s a very glamorous job as you can see…
After the boil is complete, we whirlpool the wort so all of the hop residue and other junk piles into a cone in the center of the kettle so we can rack off all the good stuff.
Trub! That’s the real name for “hop residue and other junk”. After I drain this, I jump in and scrub it out. Luckily, this one is a nice cool 85 degrees and I’m not kneeling on top of a hot liquor tank, so I don’t have the overwhelming urge to pass out.
Brewing is an incredibly hot job. Seriously, overheating all the time. There’s steam everywhere, all the time! The beer is then run through the heat exchanger to cool it down and oxygenated on the way into the freshly cleaned fermentor. Yeast is pitched, the lid is closed for a few weeks, then suddenly…
It was a lovely 10 hour day and now I’m relaxing with a Stone Ruination IPA and a full mug of Extreme Moose Tracks ice cream. Decompressing commence.
Wolf Creek Unplugged: Transferring. It’s just about as exciting as it sounds, PLUS I get free delicious foods.
Breakfast soup! Every morning, I randomly walk by the kitchen door, hoping they’ve finished making the soup of the day. Around 10am this morning, the Mexican Chicken Soup was done. Yay breakfast!!!
Rick and I had to keg off all of the Surfin’ Monks in order to empty the serving tank so we could transfer Mountain Hawk Red over.
A little pump action… Many a tri-clamp is used. Many a hot water burn is inflicted.
The serving tank was cleaned with caustic, phosphoric, and then a final rinse of 185+ degree water…
Partway through, I was called to the bar to make sure that the Surfin’ Monks we’d just kegged wasn’t “off” in any way. It wasn’t, plus I got a full taster of beer. Bummer. It’s a tough job, but I’VE got to do it.
Since we need twenty minutes for each wash, the bar fridge gets restocked while we wait. That Silk French Vanilla Creamer is mine – for every morning that I need an extra boost, this lovely carton awaits me to greet my taste buds and jolt me back into the present time. Those mornings that I need an extra boost? EVERY MORNING. No exceptions.
More pump action as the acids are flushed. Gas masks (aka brew towels) on!
Lunch? Okey, I guess that’s okey! Tilapia tossed in almond lemon butter, fresh shallots and garlic, with garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus on the side.
About half of what I’d just eaten, packed up and to-go. Every lunch I order holds me over through dinner! Two meals in one – awesome.
We finished transferring beer around 3pm. I headed out into the 90 degree day with raging winds, blasted the air conditioner and then collapsed onto the couch to finish editing pictures, crack open a beer and do a little Cicerone studying. Not the most exciting day in the world, but perfect in preparation for brew day tomorrey!
This week I’ll be recapping every single day as a “Week in the Life of an Assistant Brewer” to give anyone who’s interested a glimpse of what a regular work week looks like for me.
Please keep in mind that my position is as assistant brewer in a brewpub that is preparing to transition from a 10bbl system up to a 30bbl production brewery. My days vary considerably from what a typical assistant brewer’s day looks like.
This morning I rolled out of bed, threw coffee in my to-go mug and got to work around 9:30am (we like to slowly transition from weekend mode to work week mode) to start filling the boil kettle with water and heating it up for keg washing.
My lovely spaceship. I’ll be jumping in there soon enough to scrub off all the hard water scale and hop residue after our next brew day. In case you didn’t know, Valencia water is essentially made of rocks. It’s this hard:
I actually pulled these from the drain a few weeks ago. All that buildup created actual rocks from mineral deposits. Crazy!
While we waited for the water to heat, the other assistant brewer, Rick, and I popped the stem out of one of the kegs to make sure that nothing evil or disgusting was growing inside. I’m thrilled to report that it was absolutely spotless! We had an incredibly impossible time trying to crank the o-ring back in once we replaced the stem, though. The palm of my hand and my fingertips have the bruises to prove it.
I hopped into the kitchen to grab the list of specials – one of my favorite parts of the day! On a typical day, I pace between the brewery and the door to the kitchen, waiting for the “breakfast soup” to be done. Today I actually had time to consume foods for breakfast, so the pacing was kept to a minimum.
Speaking of pacing, I pace in these. As a proud member of the Pink Boots Society, I now wear these with pride. Originally I went out to get the tackiest boots I could find, but now I’m slightly in love with them.
Fire. It’s just what we do. We had to replace some tubing on our keg washer, and of course you can’t do that without a torch… No, I’m certain that this is the legit way.
Rick was stuck with the task of keg washing, as I had an appointment at noon to visit the new brewery location to take some “before” pictures for the new blog I’ll be beginning tonight, documenting the process of opening a production facility. We walked the area, talked about silo and flex auger locations, almost melted in the 95 degree heat, and I snapped away.
We wrapped up the day early around 2pm and I headed home with the air conditioner blasting, my new iPad (on loan from the brewery for social media purposes) buckled securely in the passenger seat. The rest of the day was spent consuming giant mugs full of Moose Tracks ice cream and editing photos for the brewery blog. The only question that remains:
Which wine do I open tonight?
(Wonderful side note: Both of these bottles were given as tips when I worked at Enegren this weekend. No complaints here!)
Today we brewed Golden Eagle blonde ale. I was up around 5:45am, pumped myself full of caffeine and headed out to the brewery.
It was a relatively easy day. We brewed, we cleaned, we kegged, we tasted. Even with the ease of the day, I’m ready to collapse after hefting grain bags and scrubbing out 90 degree tanks. I headed home after to enjoy my new view.
BEAUTIFUL day out! I sincerely mean that. I adore clouds and rain and chill!
Looks like we’ll be getting some more heavy rain tomorrey. That will make keg delivery to Calabasas much more enjoyable, I’m sure. Here’s hoping no kegs attempt to flatten my feet again – I haven’t had a chance to get those steel-toe boots yet…
And now I’m heading BACK to Wolf Creek to treat my new roommates to dinner and give a mini-brewery tour! Tomorrey promises a visit to a local British pub for some UK brews and comfort food!
Happy Thursday/brew day to you all!
I really need to find a place at work to stash my camera. We spent today cleaning out kegs. Cleaning out kegs involves a lot of water. Camera + water does NOT equal happiness; of this I am certain.
Hence all the phone camera shots. We had some time while the boil kettle heated up this morning, so I relaxed with my Tasting Beer book and studied a bit.
After lots of hot water, splashing hoses, squeegeeing and delicious citrus chipotle chicken, I headed home and took my newly tuned up bike for a spin around the national park. This may need to be a daily occurrence. Hiking is out for a little while since that keg dropped on my foot, effectively taking a piece out of my big toe, but biking doesn’t hurt at all! Well, except for my screaming quads as I trek back up the hill on the way home.
Speaking of which:
I’ve fixed up my little room to match my personality. Hello, beautiful growlers! Just a small piece of my ridiculously out of control collection…
I also hung up these beautiful lights that my mumsie purchased for me a few months ago. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
These may be the most beautiful lights I’ve ever seen. Imagine sitting in a cozy room, sipping a nut brown ale, gazing outside as the jasmine trees bloom in the sunset, the toasty aroma of the ale and the sweet floral scent wafting through the air.
Welcome to my life. If only I had that nut brown ale right now. I made myself thirsty.