Thunder Volcano

Boundless enthusiasm for something stupid

Archive for the ‘Professional Brewering’ Category

Keg Registration

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I spend a nontrivial portion of my time filling kegs at work, so I get to spend a whole bunch of time dealing with kegs that we get back from bars and liquor stores and distributors and whathaveyou.  They often come back to us in some sort of… unpleasant condition, usually embodied by some ungodly shit covering the keg: lettuce (AKA keg salad), chicken bones, silverware, this weird brown crap that may have been gravy at one point, broken glass, mold (usually in the mouth, caused by somebody putting the keg cap back on), and – this is a distressingly common one – what appears to be an entire bottle’s worth of ketchup.
Gross and/or dangerous though it may be, that stuff doesn’t really bother me too much.  It’s annoying, but I can usually just hose it off.  What does bother me, however, are stickers.  Bars and liquor stores (and sometimes distributors) seem to like to put stickers on kegs, despite not actually owning said kegs.  Would you put bumper stickers on a rental car?  (If you mentally answered “yes” to that question, then not only are you probably an asshole, but you might want to do some learnin’ on the concept of “rhetorical questions”)  Maybe these places think that breweries have a machine that will remove stickers and such from the outside of kegs.  We don’t, unless your definition of “machine” somehow manages to include “some schmuck with a scraper” (i.e. me).
Even so, there is a greater evil in the land of keg-getting-back: keg registration.  If anything, keg registration stickers are more of a pain in the ass to remove than stickers from bars (they’re bigger, for one thing), but that’s not the problem.  The problem is that they tend to contain a lot of personal information about the purchaser – name, address, driver’s license #, signature, birthday, etc.  People tend to be really guarded about personal information being shared these days, and yet they unwittingly put their trust in some hairy guy who may or may not be too hungover to see and/or fully scrape off the sticker.  Sometimes people will cross out personal information with markers, but that actually doesn’t fix the problem – marker washes off pretty easily, pen is pretty resilient.  By far the worst offender on this (in my experience, anyway) is Connecticut.  Their stickers just can’t be removed.  I realize that if the adhesive is too weak then it will come off when the keg sweats, but there has got to be a better solution here.
I realize that this is a pretty trivial (and selfishly motivated) reason to rally against keg registration, but it really kind of sucks.  If we need to have keg registration (which is arguable, but not something I want to get into), can we at least have something that doesn’t become a permanent part of the keg?  What if there was a tag with a serial number (and maybe the name of the issuing store) ziptied to the keg?  That couldn’t be much more expensive to implement than those detailed forms with the insane mutant glue, and zipties can be cut relatively easily.  More importantly, it would allow/require the liquor store to keep the purchaser’s personal info in-store, instead of affixing it to the keg.


Written by Baron Volcano

09/18/2010 at 2:24 pm


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When I was trying to become a brewer, I got a couple different versions of basically the same question: what made you want to become a brewer? (this question comes up less now, being largely replaced by an expectant “do you get free beer?”)  I don’t interview well, so my original answer was probably just a bunch of stammering.  But it occurred to me the other day that I have a very concise answer to that question: Waffles.  Waffles are the reason I’m a brewer.

It all started back when I was graduating high school.  A friend and I were planning on taking a trip around Europe shortly after graduation.  I have yet to be able to replicate the elegant simplicity with which we planned that trip – our entire plan was “let’s go to Europe”.  When pressed for details/plans by those with (rightful) concern for our wellbeing, we elaborated by way of naming at random most of the western European countries we could think of, generally along the lines of: England, France, Holland, Germany, and Italy.  We pared down this list to something a little more realistic, but at some point added Belgium because I wanted waffles (when telling this story to a coworker, he made a comment about how our decision to go to Belgium was on a lark.  That’s largely the case, but it ignores one simple fact: I really fucking like waffles).

It was during our time in Belgium that I had my “aha” moment about beer, though I doubt I realized the gravity of the situation at the time.  The first time I drank Westmalle Tripel, I had two simultaneous reactions: “this stuff tastes amazing!” and “I am getting fucked up from drinking this”.

During the intervening years, I devoted my time to trying to drink at least one of every beer ever made.  Then, for my 21st birthday, I received two gifts from my parents: a homebrewing kit, and a desk chair.  Only then was I really able to pursue my two hobbies: sitting and drinking.  I eventually moved past the phase of “it’s much easier to get hammered on fancy beer”, but suffice to say the rest of the story isn’t all that interesting.  Or at least, I’ve been rambling enough that the rest can wait.

Written by Baron Volcano

06/14/2010 at 2:33 am