Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Project B3 (BlackBerry Beer) 2009

Some of you may have heard of my last beer-related project, BlackBerryBeer 2008. Due to unfortunate logistical problems (aka my laziness), the project failed. Year changing to 2009, making project name obsolete, did not help either. In fact, the project failed bad enough so that it is one of very very few projects I don't even list on my Monster resume.

Project B3 2008 Post-Mortem

As any good followers of the Cult of Process, we (the "project team") decided to have a retrospective on what went wrong with the project.

Post-mortem findings include following insights:

  • It is necessary to pick the blackberries before snow falls: failure to do so will make succesful completion impractical, perhaps even impossible. (sidenote: this was the fatal blow to B3 2008! Triple Boo for snow!)
  • Figuring out details like who to use for actual manufacturing (and at what cost) is important. Turns out these things don't just magically sort themselves out (Double Boo for things that don't take care of themselves)
  • Concrete plan is needed for storing resulting half a cask of custom-crafted beer -- our fridge can not contain more than maybe a dozen sixpacks, which is less than half a cask. It was pointed out that it is possible to alleviate this problem a little by drinking more beers faster; and that fortunately our home has multiple bathrooms to help with resulting logistics problem of excreting excess urinary liquids
  • Blackbery bushes have nasty thorns; and resulting bruises heal slowly (Boo for thorny plants!)

B3 2008 is Dead, Long Live BlackBerryBeer 2009 Project!

On positive note, it was also determined that these problems will be overcome with this next-generation project. After all, the stakeholders are now exceedingly thirsty; the blackberry season is not yet over in the grand state of Washington; and all the itchy blackberry wounds have been fully healed by now (in fact, some new ones have been gained to further the goal picking the dang berries; further strengthening our resolve for succesful outcome!)

Project Goals

One good thing about having a failed project is that usually you can reuse much of planning material; generally goals are reusable, sometimes even secondary artifacts like resourcing and scheduling.
This is the case here: goals have not changed a bit. We still want to:

  • Produce a batch of unique beer using some local ingredients (this is where Blackberries come into picture: after all, the only other plentiful local resource -- rain -- is not a particularly recognizable ingredient in the end)
  • Without having to handle the brewing part (as students we did this part -- it's fun, but only first couple of times; and we are well beyond that!)

We are confident that these goals will be met by the project; similar to how we were confident last year (turns out that optimism is, too, recycable! Hooray for optimism!)

The Plan

(note: plan hand-translated from our PM's MS Project Diagram)

  1. Pick the berries (use of child labor approved, maybe even encouraged -- kids don't fear thorns that blackberry bushes use for their protection; and are slightly easier to control than the other commonly encountered creature [Ursus Americanus] with known good blackberry picking skills)
  2. Find a micro-brewery that can brew small batches (half a cask?) for reasonable prices
  3. Procure other ingredients if need be
  4. Bring the stuff to the brewmeister
  5. Wait for craftsmen to brew the magic
  6. Bring The Beer Home!
  7. Drink! Smile! Have Fun!

Apologies for not having a flashy Flash version of the plan. If you want to see a flashier plan, try drinking enough vodka to make the list above spin and bounce on your computer screen (hint: wear 3D glasses for extra fun!)

Current State of the Project: Green (with Slight Chance of Yellow?)

So: although total collected blackberry harvest is still somewhat below required level (dang -- we also need to figure out what that level is!), we are confident that the end result will be enjoyable to drink, and going to be such enjoyed during year of 2009.

One more positive lack of development: we still haven't run across a single bottle of blackberry beer (although there are some Wild Internet Rumors that hint at possibility of future sightings). This is different from many other flavors of fruit beer: our project team has already field-tested multiple brands of blueberry beer, at least one tasty brand of strawberry beer (hi there Strawberry Blonde! Call me!); and of course the always-good Pyramid Apricot Ale.

What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Ok ok ok. That's a so-called rhetorical question. You can stop listing suggestions now ("I find your lack of faith disturbing!").

Post Scriptum

Once a decent batch of B3 is ready (in 2 months? Just in time for Thanksgiving!), volunteer beer drinkers may be needed. Our project team is thirsty, but even our bladders have limits. More info will be forthcoming if and when reinforcements are needed.

Stay Thirsty! And download responsibly!

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