Sunday, February 20, 2011

So that's what a Chicago Sidewalk looks like...

This past week has offered the other end of the weather spectrum in wonderful Chicago, Illinois. With temperatures more like the balmy south, I got my first glance of Chicago's sidewalks and I will tell you, they are pretty normal.

Mornings have consisted less of "make sure you have all of your winter gear" and more around sleeping! Combined with the discovery of the mobile train/bus tracker for the CTA, I have been leaving the apartment later and arriving at Siebel earlier.

School has been much more intense. The content level has increased dramatically as have the expectations. As crazy as last week was, this week should be equally intense. As many of you know, brewers are only in the business of creating what we call "wort" which is basically extracted sugar water in which we then cool and feed to yeast. We don't make beer, thats the yeast's job. Last week we learned all about making wort. This whole week is about yeast, microbes, more yeast, and finally, some yeast. Time to dust off my microbiology dancing shoes.

Last Tuesday, we piled 45 deep into a coach and drove the four hours to Chilton, WI to visit the nation's second smallest maltster, Briess Malting. I have to tell you, trips like this are worth the tuition price alone. It is one thing to sift through types of malts on the web or in your local homebrew shop, but to get into the malthouse and see how it is done, it gives you another kind of appreciation. We had an awesome guide who was truly passionate about not only what he did, but helping us understand such a key ingredient in our own process. One thing you will hear is that one of the best parts of the craft beer industry is the community. The guys at Briess have embodied that sense of community, granted in the end it was one big sales pitch of sorts (one of the speakers was a Siebel alumni). It works both ways though. We meet the people who make our major raw material and build a relationship which we will weigh when it comes time to signing a contract and they meet the people who they want to sell their product to. I can assure you they don't want to let us down. They realize our passion and our dedication and want to play a part in our dream.

One thing that is becoming massively apparent is the alumni association and networking capabilities at Siebel. There are Siebel grads doing very awesome things all over the world. The network which we are building will be very influential in the future!

On a non-beer related note, after enjoying a relaxing weekend full of mexican food and studying, I watched Inception and was blown away. If you haven't seen it yet you need to. Hans Zimmer does the soundtrack and it certainly brought me back to a really fun time in my life in which Hans certainly played a big influence. That guy is a genius!

I will get an update with some pictures next weekend because I guarantee I will have my head buried in books all week.

I will leave you with the following tips that I have learned in while in Chicago:

- Watch your step on the sidewalk, lots of dog mines.
- Chicago cuties come out when its cold too. Enjoy the scenery.
- Get to the train/bus 5 minutes early cause it sucks to see it drive off.
- If you are hungry, get mexican. It is cheap and delicious.
- When studying, listen to Pandora.
- The commute is a great time to study your notecards.
- This city has great beer. Drink it.

Location:Chicago, IL