Christopher Shrack ’16 Chemistry and Wabash Brewing

IMG_2682I was fortunate enough to spend eight weeks of my summer working on the northwest side of Indianapolis at a new nano-brewery called Wabash Brewing. I spent the last two summers exploring research in the organic chemistry lab at Marian University and the biochemistry lab at Wabash College; therefore, I was looking for something fresh to do with chemistry this summer. When I found this internship, I thought it presented a great opportunity to see how chemistry can be utilized in business and to experience the production of craft beer, which I was less familiar than its consumption.

There is a small office in the back of the brewery that the owners had set-aside as a laboratory to run quality control tests on the beer as it progresses through the fermentation process. Along with doing general housekeeping tasks, one of the goals for my internship set by the owners was to get the lab up and to run by the end of the summer.

During the first few weeks, it was nearly impossible to get to the lab instruments since the laboratory itself was doubling as storage space and was overflowing with mail, receipts, and other miscellaneous equipment. Unfortunately, an issue with production appeared around the same time the internship began. As it turned out, the grain necessary for brewing being milled on site before the brewing process began created dust that accumulated in the air ducts and fed a bacterial infection in the brewing yeast. This resulted in many beers turning sour during fermentation, which then had to be discarded. Since the owners worked full-time at other jobs during the week, this left a lot of cleaning for the other intern, Addison Hummel, and me to do in order to get back to the level of production that was expected. Each fermenter vessel was boiled and cleaned thoroughly in between batches, and the grain mill was moved outside to avoid further collection of dust. Additionally, we learned how to clean the vessels in which the beer was carbonated and the kegs the beer was stored in afterward. During this time, I was also able to run the taproom and interact with customers on a regular basis.

The most exciting part for me was learning the process of brewing beer from mashing the grain and adding the hops in during the boiling process to transferring the unfermented product, known as the wort, into a fermenter vessel and pitching the yeast with oxygen. Once the production issue was tackled, we were able to get rid of a lot of clutter in the brewery and the laboratory. The laboratory consists of a gas chromatograph (GC), a tandem gas chromatography mass spectrometer (GC-MS), a compound microscope, and a UV-Vis spectroscopy instrument (UV-VS). We determined that the latter two instruments were functional, but the GC and GC-MS systems needed to be professional repaired. Before the internship concluded, we discussed procedures moving forward for counting yeast cells using the compound microscope and for determining the standard reference method (SRM), or color of the beer, using the portable UV-VS instrument.

I would like to thank the Lilly Endowment for allowing me the opportunity to experience the inner workings of a business that has strong ties with science. I would also like to thank the owners, Matt Kriech, and Damon Carl, for allowing me to be a part of their dream in merging chemistry with the art of craft brewing. It has offered a truly unique perspective, and I’m looking forward to stopping by in the months and years to come for a pint and catching up with everyone I had the pleasure of working with this summer.

Sean McGrath ’16 Drinking Locally

ChevSean Intern Photo

Sean McGrath posing next to some of the Triton brew-masters.

Heading towards my final year as a student at Wabash College, I could not think of another internship I would have preferred to work for than with the Triton Brewing Company. I learned valuable lessons inside and outside of the Microbrewery this summer, and I especially want to thank the Eli Lilly Endowment Fund for me to receive this incredible internship opportunity. The advantage of this internship was on a rotated schedule to be capable of learning every single aspect of their business.

David Waldman, Wabash Alum and founder of Triton, always told me that this internship is unique and special in comparison to other internships provided through Wabash. My first two weeks I learned how to make Triton’s beer by being a part of the “brew crew” where we would be working before the sun rose in the morning to produce some of the best ale in the Indianapolis area. The following two weeks, I spent inside the tasting room being a licensed server for Triton. I found this to be very beneficial for me because I learned so much about the beer, needing to be able to describe the beers to customers; also, because my family owns a bar and restaurant in Chicago, I learned important managerial and served tactics in case I was ever to manage the restaurant. The next two weeks I spent on this internship was with the sales and marketing team and followed along on their daily stops to bars, restaurants and liquor stores in hopes to sell more of our product; as well as check-up on our current products being held at locations. Following two weeks of sales, I spent the next few weeks in the Operations office and learned accounting and organizational skills. Throughout the entire internship, I did many various events that included working beer festivals such as one hosted by the Indy Eleven Soccer Club and the Indiana Microbrewers Fest. I also hosted my sampling event at Kahn’s Liquor store this summer that I felt privileged to be the one representative of the company present.

Being from Chicago, living on my own with limited friends and no family around was a great learning experience. I can honestly say that this summer was important towards my preparation of living on my own permanently once I am finished with school. Along with all of the great experiences I had with Triton this summer, I also found some time to accomplish other things such as completing the LSAT test, meeting new friends, planned weekend trips to Nashville, TN and Chicago, and grew a relationship with my parents and Triton with hopes to have our bar serve Triton beers once they’re approved to self-distribute in Chicago. This summer also brought some hardships including myself and fraternity brother being kicked out of our living area for the last two weeks of our internships. I had nowhere to stay, but fortunately I work with great people here at Triton that set myself up for a place to live for the final weeks of the summer. I am very thankful for David Waldman and the rest of the Triton Brewing Company staff; this experience shows that they cared for me as more than just an employee, they sincerely cared for me inside and outside of the brewery. Although I’m uncertain whether I want to work in the microbrewery business in the future, this internship was still beneficial for me learning how to manage and maintain a small business. Also, learning more about the beer we drink has been so influential, the days of drinking Busch Light are long gone for me …I also feel obligated to teach friends of mine to try craft beer and realize there are a lot better options besides Miller, Budweiser, and Coors to drink. I can proudly say that it has been an honor to be a part of the Triton team and helping them expand their successes to new regions of the Midwest.

Albertson ’15 StilL 630 Delivers for SBIF Intern

Kyle Albertson '15

Kyle Albertson ’15

Kyle Albertson 15 – From the moment I walked into the distillery on May 19th I knew that I was in for a summer of hard work.  I was thrust straight into the process of distilling rye whiskey and since then I have not looked back.  My internship consisted of two parts; a production aspect and also a sales/marketing aspect.  The production aspect of distilling whiskey is very time consuming; from mashing the grain to fermentation to then actually distilling the mash it takes a solid week of work.  However, there is a lot of down time in between those processes and therefore, many of my days consisted of hand filtering, bottling and labeling the whiskey to be sold into bars, restaurants and stores around the St. Louis area.  Along with that I would go on sales calls in the afternoons during the week.  Sales calls were a 4 to 5 hour process everyday. I would go to check on existing accounts as well as look into getting into many new establishments as well.  While there was tons of hard and tedious work involved there also came a lot of fun too.  Most weekends were times to get out to local places and do tastings to try and further market our product while enjoying ourselves at the same time.  Fun and hard work made these few weeks some of the best and most valuable weeks I have ever experienced.

Kyle Albertson SBIF Blog 2014 StilL 630After having gone through all but a week of this internship I really feel that I am ready to start thinking about starting something like this on my own – once I am graduated, of course.  This internship was able to give me a full prospective of the ins and outs of owning my own small business.  Luckily, because I was the second employee I was able to fully participate in every aspect and it was truly a great experience.

I would sincerely like to thank David Weglarz ’03 (Owner and Master Distiller of StilL 630), Scott Crawford, Wabash Career Services, and the Small Business Internship Fund for allowing this internship to become a reality for me.  I really encourage anyone looking to hone their skills in any aspect of a small business to apply! There definitely isn’t another internship out there like this one.