PORTLAND, Ore. — This week I learn how to brew beer at Hopworks Urban Brewery. Now this is going to be fun!
Christian Ettinger is my beer professor for the day and the first lesson is to learn the ingredients that make a fine beer. Hops, barley and grains are laid out on a platter for me to touch and taste. While I am warned about the bitter taste of hops, I decide to learn my own lesson and quickly need a glass of water.
The brewing process begins with the raw ingredients mixing with water in a large stainless steel vat. After trying my hand at hand mixing with a canoe-like paddle, I am quickly demoted to washing kegs and other large vats in the brewery.
Automation is a big part of packaging, from filling cans to sealing the tops to attaching labels. At the end of the process, I get treated to a taste, which is an important part of quality control. The beer is sampled at the possible freshest moment before being assembled in packs for shipping.
Hopworks is one of the breweries participating in this Saturday's Zwickelmania in Portland. The event is basically a brewery open house and more than 70 Portland area breweries are opening their doors for behind-the-scenes tours and free tastings.
And then next weekend Zwickelmania goes statewide and more than 50 breweries from the Oregon Coast to Central Oregon will do the same.
I thoroughly enjoyed my day as a brewer and I have a new appreciation for the taste of beer.