Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This just in: I'm working for Alameda!

I've got some awesome news. I was recently contacted be Carston Haney, the brewmaster at Alameda Brewhouse, about working part-time in the brewery. This is really, really cool! First off I really like Carston and Eric, the 2 brewers. Second off, it's a first of sorts for me. Not my first paid work for a brewery (I've been paid to help with bottling runs at Upright and Cascade Brewing), but my first "permanent" position in a brewery. I'll be starting off at the bottom, washing a ton of kegs and doing beer transfers, CIP's, and kegging and that sort of thing. All stuff I could use the practice on, except keg washing, but I really don't mind keg washing at all. If you don't like cleaning, don't become a brewer because it's at least 75% of the job, unless you are one of those high-end suit brewers like Garret Oliver (wink).

I had to go through OLCC training, since their brewhouse sits behind the bar. I did the online course, and boy that stuff will scare the bejezus out of you! I had dreams about drunk drivers and state troopers for a couple of nights and when Clarissa went out to a "girl's night" last Wednesday I was like "call me if you can't drive home!!!" Anyway, the online class is super easy, I got a 100% on the test.

Alameda maxes out their 5 bbl system at the brewpub, so they are currently brewing at Roots in addition to meet the demand. It's not a contract brew. Carston brews the Alameda beers on Roots' 10 bbl system.

My first day on the job was spent washing a mountain of kegs at Roots. I think it was 9-10 pallets worth, and the keg washing machine is not super fast. It's a home-made job where you line up the kegs in a daisy chain for the washing cycles. It took me about 15 minutes to do 4 kegs, and I could have done them faster, but I wanted to be thorough
and make sure they were super clean.

Here are some more pics of the keg washer. It's not romantic, but hey, that's what goes into making beer. I didn't screw anything up but there was one minor almost-incident during the day. There is a long exit hose that we snake down the gutter drain to drain out leftover beer, yeast and caustic. We usually keep a keg over the end of the hose because the spray gets a little violent as the last of the liquid and air is pushed out the hose. Well on the last batch of kegs
when I was washing the keg we keep over the hose, I accidentally got the air pressure up to 50-60 psi while pushing out the caustic. I heard a loud noise, and looked over to see a geyser of hot caustic and yeast blowing out of the drain about 8 feet in the air in all directions. Imagine the blowhole of a whale as it surfaces if you are having a hard time picturing this. Well, everything was fine and it didn't make too bad of a mess, but luckily no one was standing over it!

I guess the obvious question to those of you who have been keeping up with my progress into the brewing profession is "What about Breakside?" I'm still planning on working for Breakside too, but we have not received our TTB approval so we cannot legally brew beer yet.
I've been homebrewing too. Just brewed up the 3rd batch of Meetification pale ale last week, and I'm hoping to brew an alt beer tomorrow with the yeast-cake of Cali ale yeast. I'm going to use a proven alt recipe from Brewing Classic Styles, but ferment with Cali at 60-62, and see how that works out.


rik said...

Congrats on the new job, I'm jealous.


rbrt said...


JC Tetreault said...

moving along quite nicely...congrats!

mario said...

Congrats Sean... your on your way!

forrest said...

that's fantastic! it's a bit of a commute by bike. is there good bus service up there?

i'll be sending back the salt book in a couple weeks, and also a cut of my Portland per diem!