I love beer, I really do. So when one of my favourite local breweries—Stewart Brewing—needed some extra hands bottling a large batch of their award-winning Hollyrood* pale ale this weekend, I happily jumped at the opportunity. I mean, one day’s work for a bit of cash and a few bottles of freshly bottled beer? That’s every students’ dream come true!
I admit that I would have happily participated without monetary payment—and maybe even without the free beer, though that’s less likely. Not because I like to work for free, but because I was looking at the day as an opportunity to see the bottling process in action.
When I arrived for my 8-hour shift, I was given a quick tour of the bottling area and the five jobs were explained: Labelling the bottles, writing batch numbers and best-before dates on the labels, washing bottles, filling them, and capping them.
Secretly, I was hoping to be given any job except washing the bottles.
Of course as luck would have it, I was given the bottle washing job. Darn!
But it only took a short while for me to realise that I had the best job in the line up.
You see, washing bottles wasn’t just washing bottles. I was in the middle of the production process and I had to keep moving. I had to put racks of bottles on the washer then move them to the air-dryer for the bottler to take for filling. I also had to keep adding un-labelled bottles to the counter for the labeller and had to keep moving labelled-and-dated bottles along the line before washing them. And I had to seal the cases and move them to a pallet once the capper filled them.
I was constantly moving. Pivoting. Bending. Reaching. Lifting. Walking. It was hard work, and I loved it!
By contrast, the other four jobs were completing single tasks, all done standing (or sitting) in exactly the same place doing exactly the same thing. Over and over and over and over again.
And at 121 cases of 24 bottles, that means over and over and over again more than 2,900 times.
(Just goes to show that not getting what you want can turn out to be the best thing for you!)
By the end of my shift, I was ready to go home and sleep. I was so exhausted that I couldn’t even muster the energy to enjoy one of my free bottles of beer. (Don’t worry, I’ll work my way through them eventually!)
Anyhow, if you’re out buying beer and you see bottles of Hollyrood, check the batch numbers! If it is from batch L40 with a best-before date of July 2015, it may have been bottled on my shift!
As for me, I’d happily help out on the bottling line again. For the money this time, as I’ve already done it for the experience! (Well, for the money and the free beer.)
* For my non-Scottish readers, Hollyrood is a play on the word Holyrood. If you wondered.