Monday, February 26, 2007

My filter hates me

Last Friday, while I was driving all over the place, Willie came in and put the new seal in the filter. (This project has been going on for something like three weeks now.) This morning, I reattached the pump to the filter piping, and voilá! No leaks!

No leaks around the shaft, that is. It seems that the half-round ring that seals up the pump's outlet got lost somewhere along the way. So once again, I called Scott Laboratories to order parts. They said it will be here tomorrow.

I cleaned and sanitized Fermenter #9, got the malt ready, and set up the brewhouse for tomorrow's batch of Harvey's Märzen. It obviously won't be ready for March 1, but it shouldn't be too late. Some of the grain I needed appears to be hidden behind the bags I had to restack when the last shipment came in. Rather than re-re-stack everything, I improvised with the malts that were handy.

I stupidly left a small valve open on F9, and when I turned on the pump to start the sanitizer, I got sprayed with the stuff. Fortunately, it's mostly harmless, unlike the caustic and acid washes that preceded it, but I did get pretty drenched. I'm hiding out in my office until I dry to a less-embarrassing level.

I filled out and mailed all the invoices from last Friday and this morning's Grand Island pickup.

Tomorrow: Clean the draft lines, brew the Märzen, clean and sanitize F6, set up Wednesday's brew.

Friday, February 23, 2007


Here we go, on a big lap around eastern Nebraska!

I loaded ten half-barrels of root beer into the van and left the brewery at 10:00. Four of the kegs got dropped off in Lincoln, and by then it was lunchtime, so I went across the highway to Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill South.

Lazlo’s Brewery & Grill South, Lincoln NE

Then came the hour's drive down I-80 to Council Bluffs IA. I got off the freeway two exits too early and drove a lap around the city before I found my next stop. The other six kegs got off here.

Back to Omaha on I-80 to find a distributor's warehouse where a bunch of my empty kegs were hiding. There I found seventeen half-barrels and seven five-gallon kegs, which pretty much filled up the van, and which they were very happy to be rid of.

I got back to Columbus around 4:30, unloaded the van, and headed home. This adventure will probably become a bi-weekly routine. I'm not sure what I think of that.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Keg day

Thursday is usually the day for cleaning and filling kegs, and today fit the pattern exactly. A couple dozen kegs of various sizes needed washing, and I filled twelve half-barrels and nine five-gallon kegs of root beer, two half-barrels of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen and one of Bugeater Brown.

The keg washer stopped working about ¾ of the way through the job; kegs would wash and rinse, but then the red "Reject" light came on. I finally realized that the sanitizer reservoir had run empty. Refilling it with fresh sanitizer got the machine working again.

Tomorrow, deliver root beer to Lincoln and Council Bluffs, and try to pick up some empty kegs at a warehouse in Omaha.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Brewed Stout

That's it. Brewed seven barrels of 1916 Irish Stout. Went home.

Did you ever have one of those headaches where you were afraid to stand up because you were sure the entire contents of your skull would come pouring out through your eyes?

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What's new? The new site layout, that's what's new!

I've revamped the look of the site! With luck, I haven't broken too many links. If you find any problems, please let me know either via the comments page, or in this forum thread. I'll be hand-checking the links and functions as well as running Xenu's Link Sleuth to find any errors.

Known problems:

Except for the Beer In Airports section, aAll of the functionality seems to be intact.

Let me know what you think!

Stout setup

Last night's presentation to the Platte Valley Cattlemen on "life in a small brewery". It was basically the same spiel I do during a real brewery tour, only without all the tanks. I passed around a few jars of malt and hops for them to taste, and some samples of All American Gold, Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, and Bugeater Brown. They all seemed interested, and maybe even entertained, and they asked quite a few really good questions about the process. Plus they gave me a free steak dinner. Good fun.

Fermenter #4 is cleaned, sanitized, and ready to receive tomorrow's batch of 1916 Irish Stout. The grain is in the hopper and ready to go, and the water should be hot by tomorrow morning. When it's ready, this beer will replace the Princess of Darkness Porter that's on tap now.

The filter saga may be drawing to a close; I have the parts, I have the drawing, and I have a sheet entitled "Installing Seal - Some Things To Know". So maybe I can get that done finally on Thursday (keg cleaning/filling day) or Friday (root beer deliveries to Lincoln and Council Bluffs).

Monday, February 19, 2007

It's hard to get started on Mondays

Returned a phone call from the guy who's putting on the beer tasting in Milligan NE in June. Dumped some trub out of the Impromptu Pale Ale fermenter. Judah from Nebraskaland Distributing came for his usual Monday morning pickup; he called me upstairs to let me know that he was one keg short, so I went down to the cellar to fill one for him. Spent some time after lunch working on the new site layout.

Tonight I'm giving a presentation to the Platte Valley Cattlemen's Association on "life in a small brewery". I'll head back to the pub around 5:00 to fill up some growlers for sampling.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Taxes, propaganda, design

It's the 16th of the month...time for the bi-weekly TTB Excise Tax Return. That kept me occupied for at least ten minutes.

I cleaned up the mess on the floor next to the Impromptu Pale Ale fermenter.

Willie put new ballasts in the lights in the cellar earlier this week, but there's still a significant photon deficiency in that cooler. (That is, they didn't work.) He worked on it for a while today, and now we're waiting for an electrician.

I'm working on a new layout for "Beer Me!", that you can preview at Be advised that a lot of the links don't work yet, and some links may even refer you back to the current site. But let me know what you think.

The filter parts showed up today, minus the instructions I asked for, and minus a copy of the invoice that will get me reimbursed. A short voice message was left for the vendor.

Alan Eames dead at 59

Alan Eames' book Secret Life of Beer: Legends, Lore, and Little-Known Facts is a very entertaining and informative read, and this was just one of many contributions he made to the understanding of the worldwide concept of "beer".

DUMMERSTON -- Alan D. Eames, 59, of Rice Farm Road, dubbed “the Indiana Jones of Beer” and “The Beer King,” by the world media, died unexpectedly at his home on Saturday, Feb. 10, 2007.

An internationally recognized beer historian, author, consultant, and beer anthropologist, Mr. Eames was held in high regard for his incredible recall of historic facts, and ability to weave them into his lectures and writings.

Mr. Eames was the author of “A Beer Drinker's Companion,” “Blood, Sweat and Beers,” and “The Oldenburg Beer Drinkers Bible.”

Mr. Eames wrote about the role of beer in ancient and traditional societies for a variety of publications, but his most notable work was the now-classic book, “Secret Life of Beer.”

Read the entire obituary here.

Brewers' shares rise on reported talks

Business Week reports that Anheuser-Busch and InBev may be talking about a merger.

Shares in brewers InBev SA and Anheuser-Busch rose Thursday on a Brazilian newspaper report about talks to unite the world's largest beermakers.

Belgium-based InBev declined to comment on the report in Sao Paulo business daily Valor Economico that InBev had held preliminary merger talks with its U.S.-based rival. The newspaper cited an unidentified source which it said was close to leading Brazilian investors.

"We do not comment on market speculation," said Gwendoline Ornigg, InBev's director of corporate external communications.

Anheuser-Busch echoed that, saying it was the company's policy "to not confirm, deny or speculate on reports of potential investments, acquisitions, mergers, new business partnerships or other transactions."

Just what the world needs: an even-bigger industrial beer conglomerate. Read the entire article here.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

A few kegs and some happy yeast

Not much going on today. I filled five or six kegs for the pub, and a couple root beers for a wholesaler, and I checked on yesterday's brew, which as you can see is very happy indeed.

Healthy, active yeast makes a mess on the floor

Tomorrow: taxes, and with luck the filter seals will finally arrive.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A few new links

A few interesting links have stacked up in my mailbox. Rather than stacking up a bunch of new posts, I'll just shoehorn them all in this one:

  • True Brew T.V. premiere is here!
    After traveling thousands of miles, sampling hundreds of craft-brewed beers and interviewing several of the greatest producers of specialty beers in this country, "True Brew T.V." has arrived! Watch and see interviews with industry giants, tips on home brewing, and the pairing of our own specialty dishes with the beer style of the week.

  • Beer Helps Drivers Gain Traction
    Nearby Groveland, MA has begun using a beer by-product mixed with salt to de-ice roads. It quickly turns ice into slush, which can then be easily plowed. Even better, using this product slashes the annual salt budget and is better for the environment. What's especially interesting is that the beer by-product actually causes the salt shed to smell like beer, so don't be surprised if the highway smells like a brewery or road to heaven!

  • Michelob goes back to all malt
    In a television commercial airing this week, a craftsman rolls liquid glass into the teardrop shape of a Michelob bottle, to a swing soundtrack: "I can feel a change a'comin' ."‰."‰. a change will do you good." With that in mind, Anheuser-Busch Cos. is pushing its Michelob beer family back to its roots. The St. Louis brewer will make Michelob, Michelob Light and Michelob AmberBock with 100 percent malt — one of the signatures of fast-growing craft beers.

  • Feds Continue to Assert World Jurisdiction
    Federal officials are contemplating "punitive action" against Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka. Seems Matsuzaka endorsed a brand of beer and, in a television commercial, actually took a sip of said beer. That's a violation of (stupid) U.S. alcohol regulations. Here's the problem: It was a Japanese beer. And the TV commercial aired only in Japan.

  • Sam Adams unveils ultimate beer glass
    Boston Beer Co. unveiled a special glass today so customers can savor its Samuel Adams brand beer. Wine lovers have long used crystal stemware to help experience the exquisite nose of a French merlot or a frisky Australian vin ordinaire, and now the Boston brewer thinks beer connoisseurs have achieved a similar level of discernment when it comes to appreciating state-of-the-art advances in lager delivery-systems. According to the company, the new Samuel Adams Boston Lager Pint Glass is the first glass specifically designed to showcase beer as brewers intended.

Impromptu Pale Ale

Today's brew went very well, taking just three hours and 36 minutes from mash-in to fermenter-full. I did have to restack some malt to get at the Pale Ale Malt, but that wasn't too bad. One minor screw-up: I misread the clock during the boil and put the second hop addition in about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. My calculations indicate that said mistake added about 9 IBU to an already-bitter beer. I doubt anybody will notice.

During the cleanup, I had a chance to replace the tri-clamp gaskets on the transfer rig in the fermenter room. That wraps up that phase of the project, except for the three tanks that are still full of beer.

The transfer rig mixes wort, oxygen, and yeast on the way to the fermenters

Bartender Chris Vrba gave me a copy of last Sunday's "Living" section from the Omaha World-Herald. John Keenan's article about the recent Max & Joe's Belgian Beer Fest appeared in that issue, and he was kind enough to include a couple of my quotes.

Tomorrow, filling kegs.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Got some exercise

The day got off to an ominous start: I discovered my boots drenched in cat pee — after I put them on — and then got my car stuck in the snow in the alley as I was leaving the house.

I cleaned the fermenter that will be holding tomorrow's Impromptu Pale Ale brew. While that was running, I returned a couple of phone calls and asked the maintenance guys to plug in the truck's heater so it would start this afternoon.

After lunch, I drove out to Duncan to get the new malt delivery. I nearly got the truck stuck in a snowdrift backing into the dock. These pallets are cheap garbage; they're designed to be handled with a forklift, not a pallet jack. Since you can't drive a forklift onto a Mini Mack, and since there's no logistical way for me to maneuver a forklift through the brewery building anyway, the pallets are damned inconvenient. But Dan and I got the three pallets onto the truck, and I headed back to Columbus.

The City of Columbus has an annoying habit of leaving a pile of snow down the middle of the street. This was the second place I nearly got the truck stuck, while backing into the brewery's loading dock.

The pallet jack at the brewery wouldn't fit under the first pallet, and after a few minutes of wrestling with it, I decided it would just be easier to find a properly-constructed pallet and transfer the forty 50-pound bags onto it.

Professionally-stacked bags on a useless pallet

Brewer-stacked bags on a properly-engineered pallet

The malt comes off the truck, into the freight elevator, up to the second floor, down one hallway, around a corner, down another hallway, and through the double doors into the malt room.

The other two pallets fit (barely) on the jack, but I wouldn't have been able to get them off the truck with out the help from Rick from the kitchen. But in the end, all three pallets ended up in their proper place upstairs.

Here's enough malt for ten or twelve batches. The arrow indicates where the malt for tomorrow's brew is situated.

Monday, February 12, 2007

MySQL -> Forums @ BeerMe!

Thanks to Stan Hieronymus and Patrick McAleavy at Real Beer for setting me up with MySQL access! The first order of business for this new technology will be to set up user forums; Beer Me! has always been sorely lacking in the interactivity department. I'm open to suggestions on what sort of categories to offer, how to organize the forums, etc. Watch this space for news.

[Edit 2007-02-12 20:22: Well, that was quick! The forum is set up and available as The 'Beer Me!' Forum. Links from the main site to the forum will be posted by tomorrow. Dig in!

Crescent Moon Alehouse Extreme Beer Fest

Crescent Moon Alehouse, along with its colocated siblings Huber Haus, Max & Joe's, and Beertopia, comprise Nebraska's premier source for quality beer. They proved themselves once again this Saturday, hosting their Extreme Beer Fest, featuring 35 of the world's best strong beers:

Crescent Moon Alehouse, Omaha

Plus Beertopia got more than a dozen new beers in this week, so Paris and I stocked up our cellar.

Beertopia, Omaha

Root beer, &c.

A few quick notes today, and no pictures because I left my camera at home.

  • Made 28 barrels of root beer

  • Replace all of the tri-clamp gaskets on the fermenters, except the three tanks that are full of beer, and the transfer hose apparatus

  • Shifted some pallets of growlers in the basement

  • Changed some light bulbs in the fermenter room

  • Wrote up a couple of invoices

Tomorrow, I'll go out to Duncan to pick up the three pallets of malt that arrived today, and I'll clean and sanitize a fermenter so I can brew some Impromptu Pale Ale on Wednesday. That's assuming the truck will start; tomorrow's forecast calls for a high of only 11°F.

Friday, February 9, 2007


I'm looking forward to a relatively quiet day today. I returned a couple of phone calls this morning, one from the Platte Valley Cattlemen's Association asking if I could do a presentation at their monthly dinner a week from Monday, and one from the organizer of a new beer festival in Milligan, Nebraska to be held in March.

Willie, our maintenance expert, said he'd give me a hand with putting the filter pump back together later this morning.

When I looked at the new batch of Bugeater Brown Ale this morning, it looked like it hadn't started bubbling yet. But when I investigated a strange hissing sound in the fermenter room, I noticed the pressure gauge on that tank reading 17psi! The hissing noise was gas escaping from the pressure relief valve on top of the fermenter; it's the sound of narrowly-avoided disaster.

Willie and I attacked the filter pump together. Despite our efforts, it's still leaking, which means I need to order a new seal and try again. It should be here early next week.

Willie also took apart one of the non-functioning fluorescent light fixtures in the cellar to see if he could find a new ballast somewhere. It'll be nice to be able to see in there again.

So, next week:

  • Try fixing the pump again

  • Brew seven barrels of Impromptu Pale Ale

  • Clean the draft lines

  • Make 28 barrels of Root Beer

  • Fill keg orders

  • Clean kegs

  • Prepare a presentation for the Cattlemen's Association

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Bugeater Brown Ale

The brew went well today. In fact, I'd call today the Most Successful Day This Week. Local homebrewer Tom Froehner came by to lend a hand; in fact, I made him do most of the work.

Tom stands by his mash mixer

Tom does the hard work

The only thing that went "wrong", if you can actually call it that, is that I overshot my original extract by quite a wide margin. The target was 10.2°Plato, but I ended up with 13.5°P. This isn't the first time this has happened in recent brews...looks like I need to adjust my recipe calculations a bit.

At the end of the day, we had brewed seven barrels of Bugeater Brown Ale and cleaned everything up in about 6½ hours. A good day.

Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Kegging, Cleaning, and Keg Cleaning

I clean the kettle and heat exchanger after every brew, of course, but once a month I like to give it a good going-over. The kettle collects a layer of beerstone after a few brews, and the only way to get it clean is to climb in and scrub it with an acid solution.


...and after.

After I climbed out of the kettle — no mean feat for someone my size — I mixed up some caustic and hooked up a loop involving the kettle, a pump, the heat exchanger, and some hose. I let the caustic circulate for an hour.

While that was running, I attacked the pile of dirty kegs in the cellar. Cleaning kegs properly is very essential and very tedious work, but it's really not too difficult. The keg-washing machine has two small tanks, one for caustic and one for sanitizer (an iodophor solution), and a pump to circulate each.

Beverage Machinery Service Puppy-B keg washer/filler

The procedure is quite simple, once the machine is set up: hook up the keg, lift it upside down onto the platform*, and push the green button. About 150 seconds later, the keg is clean and sanitized, and the machine is ready for the next one.

*This can be quite a trick if the half-barrel happens to be full. An empty half-barrel weighs about 30 pounds. A full half-barrel weighs about 160 pounds.

Dirty keg ready to be cleaned

Dirty keg in the process of being cleaned

This machine is also supposed to be able to fill kegs, but I haven't figured out how to make that work yet. Besides, it can't fill kegs while it's cleaning kegs anyway. So I filled this week's beer order for the pub while the kegs were washing.
One half-barrel each of Fire in the Hole! Rauchbier, Cow Palace Scotch Ale, All-American Gold, Princess of Darkness Porter, and Impromptu Pale Ale, and two of Tin Lizzie Hefeweizen, one of which is for our wholesaler in Grand Island. I also kegged all of the Toil & Trubbel Dubbel, seven half-barrels, and set them aside. And I kegged what root beer was left in one of those tanks, most of which will also go to Grand Island on Monday, and I ran the last of the root beer from upstairs into that tank.

All told, I cleaned 23 half-barrels and 18 five-gallon kegs. Somewhere during all that, the hour expired for the brewhouse cleaning loop. I went upstairs and rinsed all the caustic out of the loop, then mixed up some acid and started it circulating again. The plan was to let that run for an hour as well, but with all the keg filling and washing I lost track of the time, and the acid actually ran until I was finished with the kegs, some 2¼ hours later.

I rinsed out the acid and mixed up some iodophor, and let that circulate while I took my boots off. The heat exchanger and transfer hoses remain full of the sanitizer until it's time to use them again; the rest of the sanitizer gets drained from the kettle, having served its purpose admirably.

A few weeks ago, we attended a tasting of Belgian beers at Max & Joe's, a new fine beer bar sandwiched between the magnificent establishments Crescent Moon and Beertopia. John Keenan of the Omaha World-Herald was in attendance, and he's been working on an article about Belgian beers for his paper. I found a message from John on my answering machine asking for a few final details for his article, which I provided as best I could, and I look forward to reading it on Sunday.

Tomorrow, I think I'll brew a batch of Bugeater Brown Ale, using yeast harvested from the new batch of All-American Gold. Local homebrewer Tom Froehner said he'd like to see the process on a commercial scale, so he's going to come give me a hand.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Gutting the filter

I think I've finally got all the parts I need to finish the keg jumpers. But today's project is to replace the main pump seals in the filter, and if that goes well, to filter the new batch of All-American Gold.

The filter, whole.

It's not going well. I detached the pump from the filter (realizing in the process that being an Italian-made machine, all of the bolts are metric-sized, so I had to go back to the hardware store for some metric box wrenches) and wrestled the housing off. The next step was to remove the impeller to get at the seal, but the impeller wouldn't budge. I tried everything I could think of, including looking in the instruction manual, but the manual only had drawings of a completely different pump. So around 11:00 I called Scott Laboratories to see if there was some trick to it. I left a message for somebody in the service department. When they call back, I'll see if they can fax me some drawings for this pump.

With their advice ("get something to use for leverage and pry it off, being careful not to bend it") I had the pump disassembled by noon.

Pump guts

I took out the old seals and put in the new ones, then reassembled the pump and reattached it to the filter.

Old seals vs. new seals

A leak test seemed to be a good idea, so I hooked up a hose and started filling the filter. Water spewed generously from around my newly-installed seals. By 1:00, I had it taken apart again. Each seal can only go in two ways, sort of a "heads-tails" thing, and there are two of them, which means there are only four different configurations. The mechanically-inclined reader may note that if I had paid attention to how the original parts were installed in the first place, I wouldn't be in this situation now. Anyway, I flipped one of the parts around and put the whole works back together.

The second leak test went as well as the first. I took it all apart again. This time, more parts came out than I put in. This is generally not a good sign. After looking at the bits and pieces, I figured I'd be better off calling Willie, our maintenance man, who has some experience with rebuilding pumps. Worst case is that I'll have to buy another set of pump seals (about $70) and start over.

So obviously the All-American Gold didn't get filtered today. But I did move seven barrels of root beer into the cellar, and I finally got the keg jumpers finished.

Tomorrow, run a CIP cycle through the brewhouse, fill and clean kegs, and keg off the Toil & Trubbel Dubbel and clean that tank.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Finishing last week's jobs

Ace Hardware said the tubing I ordered last week was probably on this morning's truck, but it hadn't been unloaded yet. I picked up some hose clamps anyway so I could at least get some more of the keg jumpers replaced, a job that I started last week.

The jumpers are the lines running from the kegs to the wall. The lines above those run to the bar.

I got exactly one of them done before I realized that the hose clamps I bought were one size too small. So this bagful will go back to Ace when I go pick up the tubing later.

I finally cleaned the draft lines this morning. I normally do it every two weeks, but I was hoping to coordinate the cleaning with the installation of the new jumpers this time. You've read how well that's been going.

The first step was to disassemble and clean all of the faucets. Lots of guck, mainly yeast and mold, can build up inside these things and get flushed out into the beer.

Faucet parts

Once the faucets are cleaned, reassembled, and put back in place, the lines can be cleaned. This involves filling them with a cleaning solution (usually caustic), letting them soak for fifteen or twenty minutes, rinsing them with water, then running beer through them. This pot handles the cleaning and rinsing. It's not the most effective line-cleaning method, but I don't have the budget for a proper pump right now.

Line-cleaning "pot" attached to two draft lines

Remarkably itchy caustic burns

I wheeled a five-gallon keg of Orange Cream Soda over to Crackers to Caviar, the only place in town that sells our products.

This afternoon, I'll finish replacing the tri-clamp gaskets in the brewhouse; there were four I couldn't get at last week, but I've got better tools now. Then I'll rearrange the pallets in the malt room to make space for the 6000 pounds I'm expecting from Briess any day now.

The malt room

So it's time to make a plan for the rest of this week:

  • This afternoon: go back to Ace and get the rest of the jumper parts.

  • Tuesday: Replace the filter main pump seals. If that goes well, then filter the new batch of All-American Gold. Scrub the beerstone out of the kettle.

  • Wednesday: Run a caustic/acid/sanitizer cycle through the kettle and heat exchanger, and acid through the mash tun. Clean kegs. Fill keg orders. Run seven barrels of Root Beer from upstairs into the empty tank in the cellar.

  • Thursday: Finish replacing the keg jumpers. Keg off all of the Toil & Trubbel Dubbel and clean that tank.

  • Friday: Do all the stuff that will undoubtedly get postponed from earlier in the week.

Friday, February 2, 2007

Comedy of errors, and a taxing day

Well, maybe not really a "comedy", but plenty of errors.

My first clue that the day wouldn't go well was while I was performing my monthly head-shaving this morning. My clippers died one-third of the way through the job. To put it mildly, this caused something of a delay in getting to the brewery and starting the day's projects.

Once I became presentable again, I headed over to Ace Hardware to pick up the tubing that I ordered on Monday, along with some bits and pieces for some other projects. Only one roll of tubing out of the two I had ordered actually arrived, but I figured that would at least get me started on today's main job: replacing the jumpers between the kegs and the wall brackets in the cellar. These are the lines that supply CO2 to and remove beer from the kegs. The existing ones were old and moldy and variously-sized, so replacing them will help the consistency of the beers poured at the bar.

Apart from the screwdriver, utility knife, and hose clamp edges gouging great bloody holes in my hands, which a few drops of Super Glue sealed nicely, the job went pretty well for the first four lines. That's when I realized that I had forgotten to buy any hose clamps. So the other eight lines will have to wait until Monday, when I'll get the second roll of tubing anyway.

There were some keg orders to fill, and the pub needed a few, so I filled those after lunch.

I've been running behind on my paperwork; the three invoices for this week's wholesale deliveries, plus January's taxes. Over the years, I've developed some software that help me with the taxes, but they're still a pain in the backside. Every two weeks, we submit Form 5000.24 Excise Tax Return to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. That's how the federal government collects their $7.00 on every barrel of beer we sell.

TTB Excise Tax Return Form 5000.24

We also submit Form 5130.9 Brewer's Report of Operations every month. It's a summary of the beer that we brewed, filtered, packaged, removed, returned, and destroyed during the reporting period. The feds actually want us to submit this form on a quarterly basis, but Nebraska's absurdly antiquated liquor laws require us to send a copy along with our monthly state returns.

TTB Brewer's Report of Operations Form 5130.9

Speaking of Nebraska's absurdly antiquated liquor laws, we file tax returns with the state every month. One submission is Form 35-7137 Sales to Nebraska Wholesalers, which lists the invoice number, wholesaler name, and number of gallons (separated by package size) for every transaction we had with an in-state wholesaler. This is a completely extraneous piece of paper, since it's got nothing to do with how much tax we pay.

Facsimile of Nebraska Form 37-7137 Sales to Nebraska Wholesalers

The real money is served up on Form 35-7127 Nebraska Craft Brewery Monthly Tax Return. Nebraska demands 30.69¢ per gallon — that's more than $9.51 per barrel — on every drop of beer that goes through the filter. Never mind the unavoidable spillage during kegging, or the beer that's left in the bottom of the tank that won't fill another keg, or beer that's returned from the trade, or beer that's destroyed due to spoilage. If it ends up in the bright beer tanks, it's taxed. And compare that tax rate — 30.69¢ per gallon — to the rate we paid in Wisconsin: $1.00 per barrel, less than 3¼¢ per gallon, and that only applied to beer that was actually sold, with credits for returned and destroyed beer. Nebraska has quietly worked its way up the list of states whose citizens endure the highest tax burden, and their liquor policies are no exception.

Facsimile of Nebraska Form 35-7127 Nebraska Craft Brewer Monthly Tax Return

My "other job" at Gottberg is Network Administrator, and I had to straighten out some misbehaving routers this afternoon. After all that, I decided it was time to call it a week; I called Paris at home and asked her if she wanted to join me for a beer, and she did.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

More kegs, and delays

I was at the brewery by 8:30 this morning, filling the remaining root beer kegs for the Norfolk order. At 10:30, I drove out to the Tasty-Toppings plant in Duncan to borrow the truck, only to find that it wouldn't start in this 17°F weather. So I plugged in the heater and went back to the brewery to wait for it to warm up.

In the meantime, I called the salesman in Norfolk to tell him I'd be bringing the kegs up this afternoon. He mentioned that I had brought a couple of kegs last time that were filled with the wrong beer, and asked if I could replace them. So back into the cellar I go, to fill a couple of 1/6-barrels of All-American Gold.

Noon: Head back to Duncan to get the truck.


13:00: Get back to the brewery and start loading up kegs.


13:40: Hit the road to Norfolk.

15:40: Arrive at the brewery and unload the empties.

The empties

15:50: Head back to Duncan to return the truck.

16:10: Go home. The paperwork can wait until tomorrow.

Milk beer called 'Bilk' to go on sale in Hokkaido

I think the use of the word "succeeded" is a bit of a stretch.

NAKASHIBETSU, Hokkaido -- A brewery here has succeeded in producing a low-malt beer with milk, after the drink was suggested as a product that would help use up surplus milk.

The drink, called "Bilk" will go on sale on Feb. 1. It reportedly has a fruity flavor that its brewers hope will be popular among women.

Mainichi Daily News has the whole story.

Thanks to Melia for the link!

Ethiopia The price of beer has considerably increased

EthioBlog reports that the price of beer in Ethiopia is skyrocketing. A 30-liter keg of beer from dominant producer BGI Ethiopia that formerly sold for US$13.75 is now exorbitantly priced at $15.25, and a case of their bottled beer is now worth US$6.78, up about 75 cents.

Read the entire article at EthioBlog.

A: Draft Picks

Days That End in Y notes that Jeopardy! recently had a category of beer questions. Mike posts the answers and questions, so I won't spoil the fun. I'm embarrassed to say that I missed the $1000 answer, incorrectly guessing "Orval".

121 jobs that don't suck

I always tell people that "there are worse jobs than mine", so when I saw a link to Job Profiles' 121 jobs that don't suck, I had to take a look to see just where mine fit in. Sure enough, it's #1 on the list.

Read the full list here: 121 jobs that don't suck