Brew School: Changing the Way I Drink

Posted on July 11th, 2010

Friend of Beeriety Justin Lloyd recently began working at Chelsea Brewring Company in Manhattan as a cellar man. Below is the latest in his series of articles about what it’s like to work in the brewing industry.

The last month at Chelsea Brewing Company has been like a crash course in everything from brewing technique to boiler maintenance. Unlike most jobs, being an employee in the brewery forces one to become proficient in many things that at first may seem completely unrelated to beer. However, after a few weeks it now seems obvious to me how essential things like properly functioning heat and consistent pH levels in water are to the job.

Everyday I spend on the job just adds to the knowledge being crammed into my head. It is an amazing feeling, albeit a completely dorky one, to finally grasp why carbon dioxide dissolves at certain pressures or exactly how a temperature difference of 5-degrees affects the mouth feel of a stout. The two brewers are dropping this knowledge on me all the time and little by little I’m starting to fully understand what exactly goes into the beverage I enjoy so much.

Three months ago I would have been content to sip on a pint after a hard day of work and just relax. While I still love my end of the day tipple, I often find my mind wandering to the inner workings of my glass. No longer is a Pilsner just a Pilsner, not by a long shot. Nowadays each sip of that golden liquid is accompanied by thoughts of whether or not the brewery undertakes the traditional German techniques of decoction brewing. Offerings from small, American microbreweries now find me preoccupied with thoughts of filtering versus temperature shocking for clarification. Ever since I learned about the important role enzymes play in all-grain mashing, I can’t get the phrases beta-amylase and alpha-amylase out of my head.

At first all of this thinking seemed excessive, but now that I’m started to understand and see these principles and techniques in action, my enjoyment of beer has gone through the roof. The more I learn about the stuff the more I want to taste and try, study and understand. While I was giving a brewery tour last weekend a couple came up to me afterwards and asked me if I ever get tired of beer. I could only chuckle and shake my head no as I sipped from my glass of Ale. How can I get tired of it when there is so much more to learn?

  • Captjohn

    I met Justin at the Chelsea Brewing Company 3 weeks ago! What an asset to them. Keen to do anything, including talking to random tourists who were asking questions our bartender could not answer. This kid will go far!