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Cleaning the mash tun at Titletown Brewing Company

Cleaning the mash tun at Titletown Brewing Company

Normally my posts are more beer-centric.  I like to talk about tasting beer or making beer on the homebrew scale.  Tonight is just a bit different.

See, it’s no major secret to those who know me that I would, given the right circumstances (that will never happen), trade in my 8-5 IT job for a job as a brewer.  It’s a sickness, I know, but I just enjoy making beer and the thought of having the opportunity to make beer that would be enjoyed by more than just a small group of friends…well, that would be an incredible experience.  Perhaps it’s the fact that in the IT world, so much of your work goes unnoticed (until something breaks) or the reality that the things that you create are ethereal and intangible, but creating things with my hands has always been something that I’ve really enjoyed.

I’ve spent this week in Green Bay, WI, meeting with all of my co-workers who are based here, working out the finer details of some fairly major projects and just generally re-acquainting myself with the team.  And, as we all know, traveling always means a trip to a brewery or brewpub and this trip is no different.  I’ve sung the praises of Titletown Brewing Company in the past and I can honestly say that I’m still in love with their beers.  Tonight, however, was a bit more special.

One batch of spent grain

One batch of spent grain

Our boss and a couple co-workers met up at Titletown for a couple beers after work and managed to get a tour of the brewhouse and cellars.  Brent, the owner of Titletown, led the tour and pretty much gave us an all-access, behind the scenes tour of the facility.  While we were walking through the brewhouse, I met Dave, the brewmaster, and we talked a bit about brewing and general beer geek banter ensued.  We all went back to our beers and had dinner and as we were leaving I saw Dave hauling these ginormous buckets back into the building.  I asked him if he was about to start cleaning out his mash tun.  He nodded, so I asked if he wanted any help.  Dave got that “Are you shitting me?” look on his face and said “Sure!”.  I bid my co-workers good night and headed back inside.

Now, keep in mind that on a homebrew scale, at least for me, cleaning out a mash tun means scooping out what started out as 20-30 pounds of grain into a bucket and dumping it in the woods for the deer to eat.  I never bothered to ask Dave what this particular brew’s grain bill was, but let me tell you, scooping out the mash tun after a 15 barrel brewday is work.  I’m sure Dave, the guys I work with and my wife (who I texted in a rather giddy way) all thought I was totally bat-shit crazy, but in all honesty, I was giggling the entire time.  I mean, really, how many homebrewers can say that they’ve actually scooped out, scrubbed down, and hosed out a real production mash tun?  I’m sure not many would want to, but it really does make one appreciate just how much work goes into making beer on a commercial scale, even if it is just on a “brewpub” scale.

The best part of the night was being able to BS with someone who brews day in and day out and has a real love for what he does.  And while I know Dave had to get home and rest up for another brewday, and I’m sure he appreciated not having to shovel out umpteen pounds of wet spent grain, I really enjoyed being able to talk beer with someone else who just enjoys the process and the end result as much as I do.  While I would have loved to sat there and pick his brain all night, reality stated that 8am is going to come mighty early for me tomorrow and the IT world isn’t going to sit idle while I dream of brewing on a production scale.

Brent, thanks for the really neat tour and taking the time to explain the basics of how beer is made.  I know the guys that were with me really enjoyed it and it really made them appreciate more what goes into making the beer and gave them a strong connection to your establishment.  Dave, thanks for letting me lend a hand, even if I’m pretty sure you were convinced I was totally off my rocker.  Knowing how much work goes into every batch gives me an even greater appreciation for what you do so well.

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