Archive for August, 2006

A Week At Fordham

Friday, August 25th, 2006

Fordham Logo

This week (August 21st-24th) I got the opportunity to volunteer at Fordham Brewing Company in Dover, DE. I had been in contact with the Head Brewer, Walter Trifari, several times via e-mail inquiring mostly about opportunities with helping him brew and additionaly about just general help around the brewery. He was quick to reply and basically said that they bottle beer every other week usually on Monday’s or Wednesday’s and would I be available. At the time I was not, but I told him during July and August I could come down every Wednesday if he needed help. He never e-mailed me asking for help, so I assumed he didn’t need it. Last week I decided to give hime one last shot since August was almost up and asked if he needed help. Because of the timing of several different things at the brewery he was very much in need of help. So, kind of unbeknownst to me, I just signed up for four days of bottling.

Fordham’s bottling line is semi-automated. The reason I say this is because there has to be people at certain spots to make certain things happen, but generally the machines do most of the work. Here is a brief (and probably) incomplete run down of how the bottling line works. First, someone takes either loose empty beer bottles and puts them onto a conveyor belt or someone takes a case of empty beer bottles and puts them on onto a conveyor belt. If it is a case, there is a machine that extracts the bottles from the case, so the bottle go in one direction while the cardboard box goes in another. Next, the bottles are funneled down a conveyor belt to the true bottling aspect of the machine (actually multiple machines, but whatever). Anyway, the bottles are rinsed and sanitized, then flushed of air and filled with CO2, then filled with beer, then fobbed (basically another way of trying to make sure all the air is out of the bottle), then capped, then rinsed, then onto another conveyor belt. It probablt takes each bottle about five seconds to go through all of that part. The bottles are then shuffled down the conveyor belt to a dryer, then a labeler, and then seperated to be filled into cases. A person then pushes a button to raised the case and lower the bottles so they meet again. The same person then folds up the lid of the case and sends it through a taping machine. After that someone is standing at the end to lift the case off and stack it into pallets. Once the machine is fully running I would guess it takes a bottle about 30 seconds to travel from start to finish.

My job for the week was one of three: bottle loader, button pusher, or pallet stacker. None are glamorous, all are important. The trully difficult job is the person who has to maintain / watch the filler and labeler to make sure things are running smoothly. I kind of viewed the bottle loader position as feeding the mouth on the great bottling beast, and the pallet stacker as sort of the ass extractor, or something. The button pusher (man I make these sound exciting) was maybe the intestine or the colon . . . dunno, whatever. Anyway, it was a long physical week and I’m glad I had the experience and the opportunity to help. Next time though, I think one or two days would be much better. Between driving, tolls, and the repetative physical nature of the job (oh yeah, it was really loud too), I would not want to do that everyday by any means.

Hopefully I have created a relationship with a big brewery in the area and will have more and better opportunities around the bend. To say nothing else, it was an eye-opening experience. Also, they were generous enough to give me about a case of beer a day too, so right now I have some of their Lager, Copperhead and two seasonals, the Maibock and Oktoberfest – lucky me!

Not My Typical Update

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

books picture

This isn’t my typical style of update, but I’m hoping it’ll get the ball rolling again since I havn’t posted in a while. Anyway, my brother at zogworld just hit me up to do a book meme. What the hell that is I’m not really sure, but he’s got links and stuff on his website, so you can check it all out there. Anyway, looks like there are 9 questions and 1 request to be covered, so here we go:

  1. One book that changed your life
  2. One book you have read more than once
  3. One book you would want on a desert island
  4. One book that made you laugh
  5. One book you wish had been written
  6. One book you wish had never had been written
  7. One book that made you cry
  8. One book you are currently reading
  9. One book you have been meaning to read
  10. Now tag five people

So, one theme I consistently see here is “one”, so I am going to try and limit each answer to one book though for several of the questions several answers come to mind.

  1. One book that changed your life: Well, that is a large cup o tea right there, that is. Anyway, … I’d probably have to go with Ishmael: An Adventure of the Mind and Spirit by Daniel Quinn. The reason I say this, was it was at a very influential time in my life. First, I had just quit my job and would not work again for a year. Second, I was very disappointed with the direction in which my life was heading and was trying to “self educate” to help give my life new direction. Third, I was preparing for my Outward Bound trip, which is an experience that totally rearranged a lot of stuff for me for a while, mostly positively. And fourth, this was the book that made me realize that I liked reading. Throughout my life I had always been “forced” to read books. I was told what to read, and when it had to be done by, and then I’d either be tested on it or have to write a paper on it. I read very little books for pleasure until after I was 21. Not all will agree, but I also liked Daniel Quinn’s writing style and since then have purchased and read all of his other works, including some hard to find ones.
  2. One book you have read more than once: Easy, The Bones on Black Spruce Mountain by David Budbill. I have seriously read this book 10+ times. I would say this book falls into a ‘favorites’ category for me easily. It is a book written for young readers, I probably read it for the first time in about 5th grade. It most likely took me quite a while to read at that age, not really being into reading, but now when I read it, it takes me an afternoon. This is just one of those books, I bet you have one too.
  3. One book you would want on a desert island: No idea. Maybe, Survive on a Desert Island by Claire Llewellyn. Really the only thing that would make sense would be a survival book or something along those lines. I mean, I would probably use the book to start a fire with before I would allow myself to get all wrapped up wondering about the wonders of life. Water, shelter, food, and rest all come before books. Oh, well.
  4. One book that made you laugh: Book that made me laugh? I’ll go with Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein. I probably started reading this book about whenever I started to read and have always read it. The poems are smart and funny the pictures are the same. I have recited many a poem from this book for school, and still have some memorized today. Listening to Shel read it on audio book is classic too.
  5. One book you wish had been written: What an awkward question (< what an awkward word to spell). The “book” that is actually being written now, the “book” of my life. But, if it had been written, I could read it and skip ahead sometimes when I got confused and see what the outcome would be.
  6. One book you wish had never had been written: I can not think of any book which I would wish it not to be written. But how about this, can you imagine the impact (or lack there of) if a certain book had never been written: The Bible. Now that would be something.
  7. One book that made you cry: Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life’s Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. I don’t remember why, besides the story obviously, but this book tore me up. Tears running down my face tore me up. Could get out of bed and be productive tore me up. I think I literally stayed under the covers in bed one day while house sitting a friends house and read this book and cried. It was bizarre, it was release, it was a good book.
  8. One book you are currently reading: Designing Great Beers: The Ultimate Guide to Brewing Classic Beer Styles by Ray Daniels. This book was recomended to me by another brewer friend. So far it reads like a lot of books about brewing, technical and repetative, but always informative. To actually really retain the information, you have to read it in chunks. then once all the chuncks have been read, this will be a great reference book for trying to brew to a particular style and how to adjust things properly.
  9. One book you have been meaning to read: Diary: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk. I actually just ordered a signed 1st edition, 1st printing, now out of print hard cover of this book yesterday. Can’t wait to carefully read it. I really like Chuck’s writings, if you haven’t read any of his stuff you totally should, he’s more than just Fight Club.
  10. Now tag five people: 1 – Erik Mitchell, 2 – B.T., 3 – Richand and/or Ann, 4 – Garrett, and 5 – Jack Curtain (hey, why not!)

Hops 2006

Monday, August 7th, 2006

Hops 2006

I picked the first crop of my hops today. This year hasn’t seemed to be as good for the hops as last year for example. I think it may be the extreme heat, dunno. But it’s already August and this is my first crop. Anyway, it was over 4oz. dry which is good. Not sure on the true weight since my scale bottoms out at 4oz. and it was beyond that. Yeah I could have weighed it as two smaller sets, but I was feeling lazy. I know I’ll weigh them proper before I use them so it’s cool. More hops I say!