This post I'll recap my last week in Chicago and traveling to Munich.
I spend the first two days on a team of 3 for "business of brewing" simulation. We were Matt, Adam and Jay, so we called ourselves "JAM beers." This was intended to teach us the interactions of marketing, finance and inventory/wip. The format was sort of a workbook and board game to have a visualization and keep track of where all the money was sitting (investors, banks, wip, suppliers, etc). We had a lot of fun with it, but it what was pretty hard learning all the accounting lingo and several steps were counter-intuitively backwards and we kept putting money in the wrong columns. There were 6 rounds of investing in new lines and producing goods. We got 3rd place overall but were loads of money in debt. We were on the road to making money, we think if the game would have went 10 rounds we would have been in first place and could have sold for millions. LOL.
The next two days I was put on a different team of 5 and we were given our own "case study." Our case was a fictitious brewery in Germany that was in dire need of modernization and we wanted to invest in new kettle and energy saving technologies that would have good return on our purchase. To try to complicate our problem we were brewing Pilsner beers which in Germany means we cannot use technologies that would darken the beer color even though they might be more efficient. Lots of research and then we put together a presentation to give to the rest of the class on our recommendations. In short, we kept our kettle but upgraded the heating mechanisms and then put an energy capture system to preheat the next batch of wort going into the kettle. We ended up saving 43% of the energy compared to the old system. Money apparently was no factor.
Friday was presentations and then we were done for the week. Everybody was hoping to go first to get it over with, and when Keith handed us the speaking order we celebrated beforehand. We were first...yeah! Most of the presentations were really good, some more entertaining than others but a good exercise. (reminded me of my Kaizen days at Pella....I even introduced a decision matrix to the team to narrow down to our top choice)
After the presentations I went to Goose Island for my 15th beer, which means I got to pick out a free growler and have it filled. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to consume it, so I sent it home with my wife, she will find some good stomachs to share it with.
On Thursday after we finished the presentation I caught the matinee for "Paul" starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost (yes and Seth Rogen, but I was there for the British humor). The movie was your typical adolescent humor movie with moronic goons and everyday heros and a romantic relationship thrown in, because you have to when that's the movie formula. I didn't like the movie much, I guessed the plot, the surprise about an hour early and some of the supporting actors really sucked. Despite these things, I did laugh out loud a few times and I liked seeing Simon and Nick acting together again, that was worth it. I really don't want to own it, and that says a lot if you've seen my Simon Pegg collection. Sorry, for the sidebar....back to talking beer school.
I spent several nights with my buddy Dave from Boise. He and I were good acquaintances from day one (he is a Packers fan), but progressively he became my best friend at Siebel. We both figured that we wanted to try a lot of good food before we left town and what better way than with good company. So, we visited a Polish restaurant, the Hopleaf (again, and it was even better the 2nd time) as well as Rock Bottom and Haymarket Brewpub (again). His daughter flew out to meet him and she joined us twice as well. Dave is post-poning the European part of his tour until next fall, so we parted ways on Friday. (see pic walking home of Chicago River). They were going to embark on a Wisconsin beer tour quick before taking the Amtrak home. So I gave him my favorite hot spots in New Glarus, Madison and Milwaukee for reference.
My wife headed out to get my stuff in Chicago early on Saturday and I decided to meet her (via Metra) on the west side of the burbs near Naperville and we met for lunch at the Two Brothers Tasting Room (next to Goose Island, Two Brothers is the biggest in IL and is 14 years old this month) I had a few of their beers ahead of time and was repeatedly impressed, even more so after visiting the brewery (see pic of actual oak fermentors). I was really impressed by their Imperial Stout and their Toasted Coconut Golden Ale called Pahoehoe. If I ever come out with a beer that has toasted coconut in it, remember that I came up with the idea independently, and on the same day. ;)
I had the apartment mostly packed up except for the clothes that would be going in the luggage that my wife was bringing, so after lunch and beer tour/tastings we went back and packed it up into the Escape. We had 4 pieces of clothes left to pack when my landlord came in to get the keys and settle up. Afterwards we headed to Polish village and stopped by the little sausage shop, bakery and grocery. What fun! Nobody spoke English and the little old buschas kept talking cute gibberish to our daughters. Want herring? We have 12 flavors to choose from. Pre-made periogis in the frozen section? Why yes, only $2.95 for a dozen and many different fillings to choose from. Then we walked across the street to eat at Paul Zakopane Harnas. I felt bad because it was a Saturday night and there was only one couple of elderly Polish ladies in there. The menu was huge and cheap, if only I knew the proportions were as big as they were, I would have ordered a single potato pancake instead. We ordered two meals, an appetizer and two small side dishes for the girls, but it came with a bread basket and soup and salad and dessert. I think we barely ate half the food on the table and took the rest home. Would recommend the experience to anybody, but please consider sharing an entree.....no matter how hungry you are.
Erin and the girls dropped me off at O'Hare and my flight left Chicago at 9:50PM. Eight and a half hours later we were in rainy Munich and it was 1:30PM on Sunday. I only got 3 hours sleep on the plane, many didn't sleep at all, so we were tired. I forced myself to stay up until midnight to try to get on a normal sleep schedule and burst through the jet lag. I'm staying at Jaeger's Hostel (pics of my room and the lobby/bar) one block away from Hauptbaunhof (equivalent to Grand Central Station) so that is convenient. The hostel is a lot nicer than I was expecting as seen by the photo of my bathroom (I opted for a single the first week and several of us may room together next week). They have a small bar in the lobby with cheap beer and a vending machine with beer in it as well. It is perfectly accepted to walk down the street with a glass bottle of beer in hand so long as you aren't drunk or loud. Several of us walked 3 blocks down to Augusteiner's Brauhaus for food and beer, it seemed cheaper than Chicago, but I'm not very good at converting from Euro to Dollars in my head. I'm just going to think in Euro and forget the dollar for the next month.....much easier.
Monday was my first day at Doemens Institute of Brewing (part of our World Brewing Academy), but you'll have to wait until next week's blog for pictures and stories.