A Month of Big Changes

July 18, 2011

The past month has been a whirlwind for me in many ways. Toward the end of my job search, as I was close to accepting the only offer I had at the time, I attended a Master Brewers Association of America meeting at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, NY. Bruce, the head brewer at the brewery I interned at, needed a ride to the meeting, so I gave him a lift. I had driven us all out to another of these meetings before while I was interning and found it interesting to talk to the other brewers there, and it gave me something to do on a Wednesday.

While at the meeting Phil, the master brewer of Ommegang, mentioned that they were jumping from 17 brews per week to 20 the following week, and had plans to hit 25 or 26 per week by Summer’s end. He said they were interviewing people to bring in at least one more brewer so they wouldn’t have to rely on a mish-mash of overtime schedules for people (some working 12 hour shifts), so I gave him the ole resume and headed home. Suffice to say that all worked out pretty well, considering I’m now in the beginning of my third week on the job at Ommegang.

This whole thing forced a very quick move out of my apartment in Fairport, which was honestly a monumentally hellish week for me.  Between finding out that all the U-Haul trucks in Rochester were rented out for the weekend I needed, and not being able to find an apartment in Cooperstown quickly, my dad and I spent a wonderful 12 hour Saturday moving all my crap into a pair of storage units in Victor, near my old apartment. Currently, I’m staying in an apartment in the village that Ommegang maintains for guests as I keep looking for a permanent place. Unfortunately, a small vacation town at the peak of vacation season doesn’t really have much available, so this is turning into the most irritating and futile moving experience ever.

Unfortunately, the apartment I’m currently in has no internet, so I only get to access it through my phone and at a local pizza shop if I want to use the laptop. That’s why the blog posts have been non-existent since the move.

So far, the job has been awesome and tough. I’m in the middle of a three month training cycle where I start by learning the brewhouse operations, then move to all of the cellar work (which is two months of that training). The brewhouse, being a bigger system than I’m used to working on, and having more vessels, has been a challenge. It’s a 70 hectolitre system with a mash mixer, and lauter tun, a combination kettle/whirlpool tank, and the hot and cold liquor tanks. Tons and tons of pipes and valves. It’s been interesting moving to a system where we pump the finished mash into the lauter tun, lauter back into the mash mixer (using it as a wort receiver) until the boiled wort from the kettle has been transferred to the fermentor, then changing the lauter pathway over to the kettle. And because it’s a 24 hour per day operation (Monday-Friday), special attention needs to be paid to timing everything properly.

I’ll have to do another post later this week on some of my experiences so far, but for now I’m almost done with my pizza and need to head home to watch the Mets game.



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