Dave Hershey

Engineering Beer

07.18.2012 by Dave Hershey

A few weeks ago, Murph wrote about how engineering has influenced his cooking.  Like Murph, many of us leverage our engineering skills and curiosity in our personal lives – in some cases, we even win awards!

Brewing beer is an interest for many of us at Key Tech.  For the scientific mind, brewing is a fascinating activity – chemistry, biology, physics, and engineering are equally important to crafting the perfect pint.  During a typical brew day we have to check the water chemistry and adjust accordingly, maintain the appropriate mash temperature to extract the desired sugars (a few degrees makes a huge difference!), increase the wort temperature at a controlled rate, and then drop the boiling wort to 55°-75° F as quickly as possible. Throughout the day, we take meticulous notes so we can improve the process and recipe for the next iteration. Between brews, we brainstorm and  implement equipment improvements.

Some would say that a large supply of hand-crafted beer would be rewarding enough, but we weren’t satisfied.  We decided to take it to the next level and entered the 2011 Maryland Microbrewery Festival’s homebrew competition.  Despite a few process and carbonation issues, we submitted 2 beers for judging – a Belgian-style Dubbel and a Traditional Bock.  The Dubbel placed 2nd in the Ale category and the Traditional Bock won Best of Show!

Our Best of Show recipe  - dubbed Wünder Bock - was brewed by Dog Brewing Company (a few pictures of brew day below) to be served at all Buffalo Wild Wings locations in Maryland and sold at liquor stores near Baltimore.  We also qualified to compete in the Pro-Am competition at the 2012 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) in Denver, CO.

We plan to submit 3 or 4 entries to the homebrew competition at the 2012 Maryland Microbrewery Festival and hope to repeat as Best of Show winners.  Look for us there and at the 2012 GABF in Denver.  If all goes well, you’ll find our beer on tap and in liquor stores again!

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