Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fasten Your Seatbelts.

I'll cut right to the chase: I lost my job at Søgaards Bryghus as of Friday. My boss apparently wasn't happy with my performance and decided to stick with the new German hire as his head brewer. So now I'm back on the hunt for work.

My first reaction was, to be sure, one of rage and betrayal. I sacrificed my entire life in the US, including chewing up a significant chunk of my savings and giving up my dog, to take this opportunity. In return, I worked for 16-hour days with very little recognition or respect within the company, and effectively got tossed out like a used tissue. Now I'm back where I was a year ago, in an even more uncertain situation, far away from home.

There's definitely a silver lining, though: I have many friends here in Denmark who are helping me out in every way they can, and I now have a solid chunk of brewing experience I can put on my resume. Moreover, I can search for a job with a better company, as my time at Søgaards became extremely stressful and exhausting in a hurry.

I don't know exactly where I will go next. I would like to stay in Denmark for the time being, so I intend to search for work here, but I will also be searching for work in the US and elsewhere in the world. Like I said when I started on this path, I'll go where the work takes me. I will be compensated by Søgaards for a short while, I should be able to apply for unemployment here, and my work visa is valid until mid-2012 – I can stay here relatively comfortably for a while. Meanwhile, I'm going to bust my ass looking for brewery work everywhere I can, and have my contract with Søgaards checked out to ensure that everything is on the level.

I want to say thanks to everybody who's stood behind me in this endeavor, and to all the friends I've made in Denmark who've enjoyed my beer and supported me. This isn't the end of the adventure – it's only the beginning.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Born to be Wild

After several weeks of working with Markus Ott and Bjarne Olsen, I can safely say that we have a solid team of brewers at Søgaards Bryghus. Our production schedule is tighter and more effective than ever, and quality has improved as well. We work well as a team, and can handle just about anything that the brewery throws at us. Moreover, Markus and Bjarne are easygoing, intelligent people, and enjoyable to work with. After some of the struggles of the previous months, I appreciate working with them and look forward to some great brews in the future. We already have some interesting brainstorms in the pipe!

Markus Ott (left) and Bjarne Olsen  chatting over a beer.
Speaking of which, Aleburgh Wild Hop Ale will soon be ready to serve. "Aleburgh" is one of the original names for the city of Aalborg from several hundred years ago, presumed to mean "city by the stream" due to its proximity to the fjord. While Denmark does not cultivate hops, many plants grow wild throughout the country, and my friend Rasmus (from the local homebrewing society) and I picked hops from several of the large plants in Aalborg to brew something unique. Aleburgh Wild Hop Ale is a 5% pale ale, light in color and body with moderate bitterness and a unique flavor from the wild hops. These hops impart a flavor similar to German noble hops, but with more robust grassy and earthy notes. Also on the agenda are beers for the Christmas season. Batches of Søgaards Julebuk and Beer Here Jule IPA bubble away happily in their tanks right now.

Rasmus clipping a nice bunch of hops near the stadium.
With the brewery properly staffed and functioning well, I've been able to relax more and even take some holiday time. My mother came to visit recently, and really enjoyed her time in Aalborg. After her visit here, she and I took a short trip through Berlin and Munich, including a stop at Oktoberfest for a Maß of Augustiner Edelstoff and a delicious snack of Steckerlnfisch. My dad and his wife came to visit a week later, and I of course introduced my dad to some of the excellent cask beer at the Wharf. It was great to see some of my family again, and I look forward to spending more time with them when I visit Chicago for Christmas.

Ein Prosit! My mom and I at Oktoberfest.
I'm really starting to feel at home here, both at the brewery and here in Denmark in general. Now that work is more relaxed, I can see more of the country and work on creating more great beers. Until next time!