Lessons Learned: Check your math.

The childhood question has been answered of “when will I ever use math?”. There is a surprising amount of math involved in brewing. From conversion of gallons to barrels, to changing units of measurement for heat, energy, and pressure. All of these involve mathematical equations and require a high level of attention to ensure the correct amounts are calculated.

The Lesson Learned: Math plays an important role in brewing and checking your input numbers ensures the equation you are using provides the correct amounts.

I have always been terrible with math. I compensate this by doing a problem twice and if I get the same answer both times I know I have a better chance of certainty that I did the equation correctly. The syllabus for my Applied Engineering in Brewing class included a two page requirements list for submitting math homework. These requirements included boxing answers, using rulers when making straight lines, and using a French curve to make non-straight lines. Buried in the guidance was a key point for the student to look at their answer and think if that answer makes logical sense. For this weeks assignment this point turned out to be extremely valuable.

This week we had our first homework assignment for the class to show that we understand some basics mathematical equations. One of these problems involved calculating the liters per minute of beer made by Molson Coors when given the annual output of beer by the brewery. After I did the math I came up with 1.62 Liters per minute. While that seemed like a large amount on my homebrew system it seemed rather small for a large brewery to be producing just over a liter and a half every minute. I did the equation again and got the same answer. It was only when I went back to look at the original homework assignment page did I realize that the annual output given was 600,000,000 not 6,000 like I had been using. This amount gave me an liters per second output of 1339.6 L/min.

For those interested in figuring out your volume per second based on annual production the equation is in the picture for the post.

How can I apply this lesson: Checking the source of your information is always important. Not only can this result in wildly different flavors in beer if using the wrong amount of malt or hops but also beyond brewing. I’m sure seeking source information has applications for life outside of brewing, but my classes continue so I’m going to focus on that. Check your math and always look to see if the answer makes logical sense.

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