Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Pink Boots at Rohrbach

"Life is a pure flame, and we live by an invisible sun within us." ~Thomas Browne

July 30-31: Drove from Buffalo to Rochester, New York. The van was working hard, so it felt like the drive was all up hill. The landscape looked drier with shorter crops and less corn. Rohrbach's Brewmaster, Jim McDermott and his family were headed to the AAA minor league Redwings game, but I passed in favor of a quiet night in the camper.

I parked in Rohrbach's gravel lot and read the Great Lakes Brewing News cover to cover, as well as Animorphs #19. Yes, I read books written for teenagers, and I love them. Jim arranged dinner for me in the pub so I was well taken care of.

The next day Jim started work at 7:00 am and I joined him shortly after that. We spent about an hour brainstorming Rohrbach's impending move. Now, I've spec'ed and opened four brewpub breweries from scratch, and I've modified an old Rock Bottom into a Steelhead brewery, but I've never had to move a bunch of 20-barrel tanks to another location when 75% of your production is kegs and the other 25% is sold at the brewpub which will be served by the 7-barrel system that will be installed once the 20-barrel is moved. Yikes!

I made a few suggestions based on how agressively the Rohrbach owners apparently want the business to grow, like labwork and a grain-handling system including a silo. I have my articles on these two subjects on my computer, so I printed out copies for Jim. I will be posting these articles on my website, http://www.terifahrendorf.com/, after I update them. I was able to make a few other suggestions that I thought would standardize production, free-up the brewer from babysitting the brew, or reduce labor. Jim liked my ideas, but it all depends on the owners and their budget.

Then we mashed in. Rohrbach has a 20-barrel Criveller system similar to Flying Bison's, but it doesn't have mash/lauter rakes, so Jim mashes into the kettle and later transfers it to the lauter tun. I recommended he bolt a cutting board to his garden hoe, as pulling 20-barrels of mash with a small hoe (no rakes!) takes a lot of time. See info on mash hoes here.

Daniel Agne helped with the hand-bucketed mash-in, and then Bruce Lish arrived to work on the brew. In addition to kegging 75% of their production, Rohrbach also cleans and refills their growlers, which keeps the brewers busy when they're not already busy!

After lunch it was nearly time for me to drive to Cooperstown, which is about 4-5 hours drive. Thank you to Account Manager Larry Schultz for gifting me a Rohrbach t-shirt.

P.S. Thank you to Rohrbach brewery for letting me use their business computer to update this blog.

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