I’ve spent the last few weeks dreading this one partly because of procrastination, partly because there was a lot going on, and partly because I knew things were out of my control. Academically it was a busy week with two examinations and a paper. The paper was not very exciting so I had spent a lot of time putting it off. It was finished on time, which was great. The other issue was that I needed to be studying at the same time. I managed to keep my weekend booked solid, so I had a very short amount of time to get everything done.
Thankfully I knew a lot of the information I was tested on without reviewing too strenuously, but the stress of the whole thing meant that no matter how much sleep I got this week I felt exhausted.
I had a migraine the week before, something I haven’t dealt with in a while. On the one hand the pain sucks, on the other hand it’s a strangely liberating state of creativity for me, so I have had a bunch of pretty neat interesting ideas for things I want to be working on.
Meanwhile I spent St. Patrick’s Day viewing the scul movie over at MIT, and it was a lot of fun. Overall I found the whole thing quite exciting. The following day I headed out to Northampton to catch up with old friends and meet a few new folks.
One of the more interesting things that happened earlier this week is that Threespeed pointed me to an article about sustainability and brewing, a topic that ties together two passions in my life. Wired ran an article about sustainable energy in the production of beer, which is something used at both Brooklyn Brewing in New York and New Belgium in Colorado.
The idea of taking a process, no matter how industrial, and making it a more sustainable process is really exciting. The ability to not only reduce carbon emissions, but also manage to re-harness some of the surplus energy or heat that’s created is a great feat. Breweries, as a food related industry, has a lot of opportunities to turn their waste into fodder for farming, which is one piece of a sustainable practice. The question, in my mind, is how to push the package further through things like green roofs, incorporated greenways in and around buildings, and water treatment/cycling. The big idea for me would be this: one crucial issue in beer is water and how clean it is. Most municipal water supplies are heavily chlorinated, but if you had a brewery with a system of water pulled in from cisterns (which can ambiently heat or cool a building) and “cleaned” in a greenway to remove chemicals that you don’t want, the brewing process should heat the water enough that there is no need to chlorinate the water, and the net benefit there is that I’m sure chlorine has a big impact on flavor.
I’m sure my take on this as a possibility will change this spring as I actually brew some beer with a good friend. I’m excited for the whole thing, and am also thinking of more brewery tours with an eye to environmental impacts and possible hidden benefits.