Bottling at Port City: Making 6-packs Happen
When my alarm went off at 5:30am last Friday morning, you would think I would have groaned at the idea of going out in the 15-degree weather to do anything at all. You see, I'm not a morning person. (Just ask my business partner how useful I am before lunchtime...) But Friday was different. On Friday I had the pleasure of spending my day bottling beer at Port City.
I guess more accurately, I had the pleasure of loading and unloading bottles at Port City. As you can probably guess, the bottling line is a huge piece of machinery that does most of the work for you - but that awesome feat of mechanics still needs someone to feed it empty bottles at the front end, and to unload full bottles at the back end.
When I got to Port City at 7am, I was greeted by brewers Adam Reza and Rob Henry. WAIT, did you say brewers?! As in, professional brewers who spend their days brewing the delicious suds that are Port City beer?! Yes. Yes I did. I was quickly introduced to Head Brewer Jonathan Reeves, and sent to the end of the bottling line where Rob and I would be boxing up the Port City Porter that came off the line.
Boxing the bottles was more intense than you would imagine, with the speed that bottles sometimes come off the line. This was also the last line of defense on the finished product, so we had to make sure the bottles were properly filled, properly capped, and properly labeled before dropping them into cases that we then taped, stamped with the date, and loaded onto a pallet. It was about four minutes into this process that I was both glad I go to the gym (lifting a full case of beer over my head and stacking it neatly onto a giant pile of beer is something I am proud to say I can do), and also sad I hadn't brought headphones (so unprepared).
Overall the day was awesome. Several hours of bottling was followed by lunch with the brewing team, (including the other Port City brewers, Allison Lange and Josh Center, as well as the other bottlers for the day, Pete and Sam,) and then a complete scrub down of the brewery. Getting to see a big production brewery in action was a truly awesome experience for a homebrewer such as myself. So was getting to taste a bottle of porter fresh off the line - even if it was well before noon!
On Friday we bottled up 8 pallets of Port City Porter. I'm not positive on the math, but I think that works out to close to 700 cases, or over 16,000 bottles. And when I find one of those bottles stamped "2/13/15" you better believe I will raise it proudly between bruised knuckles and conclude that a beer never tasted so sweet.