Sunday, June 1, 2008

More Reviews: Raw Materials & More

The raw materials classes from the first module were pretty solid. The barley class was a great intro to malting technology, a subject that was both completely new and fascinating for me. As I've mentioned in the past, I think that understanding barley and malting is crucial to understanding brewing, so thanks to Burghard Meyer for introducing me to the topic. Burghard was our main instructor and also taught hops, brewing technology, and brewery arithmetics. The latter was pretty, pretty painful and consisted of just copying down error laden practice problems. I found most of the problems poorly worded and it took me quite a while to get used to the German way of arithmetics, which works but is very different from the way that I am used to thinking. Personally, I think VLB should drop this course and add some more quality science hours in its place. If they still have it next year, have fun.

The hops class was also pretty solid and had some good hands-on components, including a special lecture by the renowned Dr. Schildbach and the unofficial practical work in Burghard's hop garden. Nice touch, Burghard. The non-VLB trip to Hopsteiner (thanks Martin!) during our whirlwind Bavaria "pullover" tour, as well as the opportunity to meet arguably the most important man in the business, Mr. Henry Barth (thanks Meg's Dad & thanks Henry!), were also invaluable supplements to my hop experience here in Germany. There are some good people in the hop trade for sure!

In my ideal world, I would have liked to see VLB arrange a trip like ours to Mainburg, but it all worked out for the best in the end. I think one thing that VLB could easily do that would help a ton would be to add some non-holiday Fridays or Mondays off to make independent trips like ours less of a headache to organize. Perhaps they could extend the course a week and add a break in the middle.

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