Job perks are cool. When a cousin of ours installed some shelving for a certain well known potato chip manufacturer, any boxes of chips that fell while being put onto the new shelves couldn’t be sold. He had boxes and boxes of slightly crushed chips in his apartment. What a cool perk, I thought back then. A few years later, a friend of mine who worked at the beer store was able to bring home a mix-and-match six pack every Friday night, from cases that were damaged (i.e., one of the six bottles broke). I held such a perk in the highest esteem.
At a brewery, these perks come to you in the form of partially full kegs. Usually, they are kegs that we ran out of the batch of beer filling. We can’t sell these to accounts, and there’s no point pouring them down the drain… so we drink them. Sometimes a growler’s contents doesn’t hit the fill line either… staff drinks those too.
Partials are a lot of fun, and there’s an art to picking the best ones. We have a little corner of the cold room set aside for partials, where the caps bear cryptic codes to indicate their contents. Okay, so they’re only cryptic because of Steve’s awful handwriting… otherwise, they tell you which batch they’re from, and sometimes, why they’re in the partial corner.
So, you pick it up and give it a swish. How partial is partial? Usually fuller is better, but we have some pretty steep stairs down to our kegerator… so manageability is also a concern. And fresh is good, but to keep the stock rotated, we try to grab the oldest one there. You know, “Taking one for the team. Hic.”
Anyway, a few weeks ago I put in an urgent call to Steve. A partial that had tasted good the night before now tasted watery, and bitter. Concerned, the good Dr. Steve made a house call to diagnose the problem. Turns out this particular partial had had foaming problems, resulting in low carbonation. Turned up the CO2 (Stat!), and she was all back to normal. “That’s why you carbonate beer,” we learned. When bragging to Dr. Phil Beauchesne later, he agreed with the diagnosis, but gave a cautionary warning. “Don’t leave the CO2 up too high, or you’ll get headaches.” Dr. Tim also stopped by that evening to administer first aid, but a quick sample indicated a full recovery.
Cheers! Jen “Beau” James