A Day in the Life of a Brewer- Ben Morris
Monday morning, 8:00 AM. As the city rushes, pushes, and moves swiftly towards the daily 9 to 5 grind, our brewer Ben Morris is already getting started with the daily brewing operations at Bandit. “I usually get in at 7:30 AM. Brew days are best started early in case a pump decides to break or a mash gets stuck,” Ben tells us. With our brewpub opening at 5 pm daily during the week, our brewers need to be done and cleaned up well in advance, so early mornings are necessary for our team.
The first order of the day is usually mashing in. This process (getting the grains into the mash tun and getting them converted) can last around an hour, so it’s always a priority to get it started as soon as possible. It is during this initial process that copious amounts of coffee, tea, and the odd breakfast pastry are enjoyed by our brewing team. It is during this “downtime” of sorts that we do our daily inventory; checking our kegs and bottles and keeping track of what we’re running low on. The planning for the day is also usually done during this period, as brewers assess what needs to be transferred, what tanks and kegs need to be cleaned, what will be bottled for the day, etc. This step proves to be crucial to our brewing days as some days require a constant dance of hoses around the brewery as beers are transferred to the bright tank and fermenters are cleaned so that the beer can be moved over. If everyone knows what’s coming up that day, then things can run pretty smoothly. Our team is now large enough that we try to double duty on brewing and bottling/packaging in order to keep both our taps and our bottle shop well stocked.
A brewing day at Bandit is usually a fun time, with brewers blasting all kinds of music, from Maritimes folk songs to ATCQ. Still, this is not a job that comes without its challenges and annoying elements (what job doesn’t? If you know of one please feel free to email us asap!), so we had to ask Ben what parts of the job are the least fun: “It’s usually the scheduling, keeping track of demand, ordering ingredients; all those minute but necessary aspects of brewing that can sometimes get on your nerves,” he tells us. Other elements of brewing that can take up a good chunk of time from the daily schedule usually involve maintenance. As Ben says, “Boats and breweries require constant upkeep!” With the type of equipment and machinery that are necessary to brewing, you have to keep checking and prioritizing things such as line cleaning, checking pumps, replacing gaskets, and keeping an eye on CO2 lines and glycol lines. “Other than that, brewing is usually a really fun time for us beerheads,” adds Ben.
Brewing at Bandit comes with the challenge that there is no barrier between our brewhouse and the brewpub area, but it does add to the pressure of having to be finished and cleaned up well before our 5 PM opening time, but it also comes with great rewards. “If I have to work late in the lab or decide to hang out in the evening for a pint, it's amazing to see the tables fill up to drink our beer under the string lights, or, the patio lights in the summer,” Ben tells us. “It's a different side of the business that I don't see as much due to being in during the day, but gives me great satisfaction,” he adds.
When asked what his main tip for new brewers is, Ben is quick to answer: ”Moisturizer! With all the dryness that comes from sanitizers, caustic soda, and general use, it’s necessary to keep those hands hydrated!”