I made it to Chicago, passed the Concise Course in Brewing Technology at the Siebel Institute of Technology, and am now back to reality – and my blog!
The course was a blur (and not only because of the beer that was consumed) – I attended classes at Siebel Institute for two weeks, Monday to Friday, 9-5, with a different topic every hour or so. We covered a crazy amount of information starting at the basics with Brewery Safety and went through every step of production including water, malting, mashing, lautering, fermentation, filtration, valves, pipes… everything. Many things I had never even heard of until this course but luckily everyone was really nice and helped answer any questions I had. The course was often times overwhelming, but was highly informative, and we were still able to find time to have a beer at the end of the day – either at the class bar (self-serve) or at a local microbrewery.
The course had a wide range of students, with people coming from Mexico, and South Korea. There was one other Canadian in the course, representing Beau’s All Natural Brewing in Ontario. Of the 40 students in the course, there were three women including myself, which was not a shock to me, it was almost more of a shock that there were three of us! (We didn’t mind being the only girls when it came to bathroom breaks.. it was entertaining watching the men do the pee dance in a long bathroom line-up). The majority of the class was comprised of people working in craft breweries or home-brewers, and a large portion of people looking to make a career change. There were a few people that were from large breweries such as Miller Coors but we were all there for the same reason – BEER.
The class topics were generally covered for an hour each, maybe two hours, depending on the topic, and taught by a variety of instructors. We had instructors that worked for Budweiser and other large breweries, and instructors that currently work at craft breweries such as Firestone. The course was an incredible learning experience, when I wasn’t learning in the classroom, I was learning from my classmates who had great insights and experiences that they were always willing to share.
The course was made even better by having the city of Chicago to explore. I enjoyed every moment in the city, and would travel there again in a heartbeat.
I was able to stay on East Grand Avenue, which is only a short walk to Michigan Avenue, otherwise known as the Magnificent Mile, or the shopper’s dream, and my bank accounts nightmare… My hotel was also only a minute walk to the subway which was very convenient to get to Siebel. I ate far too much, especially Italian food – Check out La Scarola if you have a chance, and drank even more beer. Following the end of my course I was able to do more sightseeing including a river and lake boat tour (highly recommend it), and Millenium Park (had to see “The Bean”).
I even had the chance to drive to Green Bay to see the Bear and Packers play.. a highlight of the trip for sure.
The city is made for a directionally – challenged person like myself – many things are within walking distance, cabs are plentiful and reasonably priced, and the “El” or subway, is a breeze and extremely convenient.
Stay tuned for more updates on our brewery! Construction is underway!!