End of Year Reflections – Growth

2020 is almost over and therefore I think an entry on growth is timely. And I’m not talking about our new fermentation vessel, though that will aid the brewery in future growth, no question about it.

It’s been about 9 months since I became Tony’s assistant and the amount I’ve learned is tremendous. In fact, I have a whole sheet in my notebook dedicated to things I’ve learned on the job. Most of the things I’ve learned, like Tony’s mantra of “Don’t fear the foam,” do require some explanation, so instead I’ll reflect on my first (almost) year of being an assistant brewer.

With hardly any experience in brewing, and a limited knowledge of home brewing, it was inevitable that it would take some time to learn every single thing about the job. I’m still learning to pay attention to literally everything I do. How well did I rinse that measuring cup after putting chemicals in it? Which way should I close that valve so nobody gets their knuckles smashed on a clamp? Is that valve cracked enough or does it need to be opened just the tiniest bit more?

Nearly everything we do is time sensitive, so while there’s not a lot of room for hemming and hawing about what seem like such small things, it’s imperative to make decisions before getting started and plan out what’s going to work the best for the situation (and yes, I usually default to Tony’s opinion if I’m seriously unsure). Because all of those small things? Add up to one Big Thing at the end of the day and it’s important to get it right. Knowing which hoses to use while racking or even the placement of the pump – literally every single thing impacts how the job gets done. And I’m getting better at it as the weeks go by.

I wonder what Tony’s gonna do the day I come in to do a job and ask literally zero questions. I wonder if that day will ever actually come (probably not; there’s so many variables and I always want to ensure we’re on the same page)!

The things I’ve learned have impacted my home brewing, too. I’m noticing things that my partner has made a habit of, which may not yield the intended brew (which is fine because whatever, it’s beer and it’s ours and we’ll drink it anyway). Terminology, proper cleaning and sanitation habits, all of it comes home with me. Does it make home brewing a little less exciting? Well, not really. It just means I’m paying much more attention to what’s happening and executing things a little differently. It also means I’m retaining a plethora of information bestowed upon me by Tony, which is excellent and helps build confidence that, when we’re ready, I’ll tackle my very own brew here at the MudHen.

2021 is, like, 11 days away. I think most of us are ready to put 2020 behind us (insert “hindsight is always 20/20” joke here or something). But the knowledge I’ve gained and the job experience will stay with me and build well into the new year. I’m not done growing, just yet, and I have a feeling MudHen isn’t done, either.

So, come support growing small businesses and your local brewer. We still have 4-packs of Rambler to Miami (NEIPA), Yellow Flashing Lights (Imperial Stout), and 1883 IPA (flagship, west-coast style) for sale in the pub. You might just gift someone their new favorite beer.

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