Well this last week in the brewhouse has me testing my cold-weather coping skills. Due to the age and construction of our brewhouse (and original tasting room), whatever the temperature is outside is pretty much the temperature inside, with a little buffering. It has been quite a while, though, since I've been able to see my breath on the brew platform. Nonetheless, it is still "butt-cold"! It is fairly invigorating when I'm actually brewing a batch because the boiler, steam kettles AND physical activity of brewing get you warm and keep you warm. We use dozens of small rubber washers and stainless steel fittings to facilitate our brewhouse tasks. We keep all these little parts in five-gallon buckets that are filled with a sanitizing solution. This keeps all the parts that touch the beer clean and sanitized. However, this also leads to one of the most agonizing parts of the brewery worker's day at GBC: reaching into the frigid buckets to retrieve parts! The water/sanitizer mix, I swear, must be just above freezing! You can keep your espressos, double-lattes, give me a near-frozen bucket of sanitizer to stick my hands and arms into for a effective morning wake-up!
Working in this brewhouse throughout the seasons is quite a schizophrenic existence. In the summertime, the summer heat is intensified by the same characters who make the wintertime tolerable; the steam boiler and steam kettle! I know, I know "Poor, poor me (and Jim)." I still love what I do. Even with the extreme temperature conditions, I am hard-pressed to think of another career where I could be so happy. Having said that, now you know why I have that distant, dopey look when I walk into the warm, cozy atmosphere of the tasting room. It's like jumping into a warm shower after a January dip in the lake!
In the interest of domestic harmony......GO GIANTS!!!