January 24, 2007

Blood, Sweat & Beers

Yesterday was a big day for the gang here at Razor. Angela, Andrew, Stephen and I headed over to the Pump House Brewery for a little field trip. It was bottling day, so we decided to become even more intimate with the brand, it would be fun to experience the whole thing - hands on.

8 hours, and over 20,000 bottles of beer later, we were indeed, very intimate! Here's a brief tour of our day (honestly, they had us so busy, and on such a tight schedule... we didn't have much time to even snap these pictures!)

First thousands of bottles are fed into the washer where they are all stripped, cleaned, disinfected and sterilized.
From there, they come out and head to the filler where they are filled, capped, then off to the giant pasteurizer, where they slowly run under streams of water at differing temperatures. It takes well over a half an hour for each bottle to make the slow journey from one end to the other.

Bottles heading in to be pasteurized.
Bottles heading out the other end.


Andrew was on bottle duty at the exit side of the giant pasteurizer. Some of the bottles fall over or break in this process, so Andrew's job was to stand up the good ones, pull out the broken ones, and discard any bottles that for whatever reason are insufficiently filled.

Now it's off to the labeler, where the carefully crafted and expertly designed labels are applied. This is where I came in. I was Inspector 12, and my task was to do 21 point inspections on every bottle as it passed by at over 1.5 bottles a second. There were several bottle scanners as well, but my very important and vital role was to offer the last line of defense against improperly labeled, filled and capped bottles. The bad ones are pulled off, then either fixed or discarded. The fixed ones were carefully replaced onto the line... but be careful! If you tip one over, this creates a domino effect of tipped bottles all the way down the line. This happened to me twice - and is not good.
Think any duds are getting by? Not on my watch!

Careful scrutiny and focused attention to detail. That's how I roll.

From the inspection station, they rolled on down to the packaging machine.
Notice... all bottles are properly labeled.

Bottles are sorted into bunches of 6, and then dropped into the boxes from above.

Angela was the boxer and was responsible for assembling the empty 6 pack boxes and feeding them onto the line, where two at a time, they would be filled with the newly brewed and bottled beer.The pressure often got to Stephen.

Stephen's arduous task was to pull boxes off the line after they have been glued and sealed. This is where the blood comes in. Stephen got a nice paper cut (or better yet - a cardboard cut) from one of the boxes from one of the first boxes out. Thankfully, no blood or finger parts made it into any of the boxes. He wasn't sure what was more painful; that or putting his hand in scalding hot box glue. From here, he pilled them onto pallets. Each pallet contains 240 six packs. In the course of the day, we filled over 14 pallets. That's over 3,360 six packs!
Angela and Stephen standing over the conquered cases.

Fresh Beer - ready to ship!

Here's a brief video recap: