Monday, March 16, 2009

1st Day at Sixpoint

As I've told friends and stated on this blog, I'm trying to slowly edge my way into professional brewing. I'm going to be blogging on this, and I think it will be interesting to look back on my experiences in a few years and see where it's taken me. In January I lined up an internship with Sixpoint Craft Ales, and although there were some setbacks in the schedule, I'm finally in there and I should be helping out on most Saturdays. As far as my specific goals, I would love to be offered a job there, but even if that doesn't happen, I'm sure learning experience will be crucial, and can only help me get a job at a brewery somewhere else.
On Saturday I went to Sixpoint to help Craig and Evan keg up some Bengali Tiger IPA. They weren't brewing, which meant we would have a fairly easy day and finish up by around 1:00. I arrived at a shockingly early 7:00 a.m. The sun was just rising in the industrial harbor neighborhood of Red Hook. While waiting for Craig and Evan to arrive, I sat outside and finished a delicious bacon egg and cheese bagel. A songbird sang in the morning from the deck, celebrating the incoming warmer weather. A feeling of excitement surged through me, as I contemplated the first truly exciting thing I have done in a while. I felt like I was like stepping into a new chapter of life.
I've known Craig for a little over 2 years now and he has worked his way up to head brewer at Sixpoint. Evan started as an intern and works there part time. Both these guys are outstanding dudes and they are avid homebrewers on the side. We sampled a beer made by Craig and his girlfriend using chilies that she had grown. It was spectacular. I didn't bring any beers this time, but I'm planning on bringing samples of the Deliverance Kentucky Sour, and our IIPA.
Most of the kegs were clean already. Once the keg washer was warmed up, we got set up to wash a few remaining kegs. Evan showed me how to do this, and it's a multi-staged cleaning with about 6 unmarked valves to memorize. As we were doing this, Craig brought the double batch of Bengali Tiger to the proper carbonation and set up the keg filler, which is a homemade sci-fi looking contraption which hangs from the ceiling with 8 fill lines coming down to sanke taps. From this we filled 6 and 1/2 pallets of kegs, and a 7 gallon keg of beer.

What was really interesting for me was that even though kegging is not really a romanticized brewing practise, this is totally new ground for me, using new equipment that I have never used! As a homebrewer, this was incredibly rewarding. Quite frankly my homebrewing system doesn't change much, and there is a certain repetitiveness to that. I'm sure part of it was the good company, but I really had a lot of fun cleaning and filling kegs, getting a little dirty and getting some IPA sprayed on my jeans. And I can say without a doubt, the Bengali was tasting great off the conditioning tank. It was rewarding to drink a beer that I had just helped keg.

At around 11:00 Shane, the owner & brewmaster stopped by just to check in. Then Ray and Mary stopped by for ingredients, so at one point it was kind of like a social hour. After that we finished up moving the pallets of beer out and cleaned up. Next week should be a double brewday. As I understand it, this will be done in 2 shifts of 2 workers, with a little overlap in the middle.

Can't wait to see what the future holds!


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