What on Earth is Kieselgur?

As a person keen on rocks it was a surprise to me that they use certain types of rock in the process of making beer.

It may seem odd for someone that doesn’t drink whisky or beer to be writing about these in my blogs but there you go! I don’t like the taste of either and I much prefer cider and wine although I’m trying to give up. This weekend will be an exception though as we slide into that heavenly state between sheer terror – trying to meet our deadlines – and the inevitable sickness that will follow. I reckon we have about 3 days before it all goes pear shaped.

My daughter arrives this afternoon from Christchurch and I have barely even seen her since she came back from Australia. It is quite hard when you’re a mum. For years you have been there and then, when they leave home, you spend some time figuring out the rest of your life.

Well I did that and now it is really hard on my family. I have a long distance relationship with my partner who is lucky to even get a Skype call from me once a week. I feel like I have abandoned everyone and everything else.

It has certainly been a wild ride this semester. The brain doesn’t work quite as well as it used to. And it is noticeable. When it creeps up on you it is almost imperceptible (boiled frog syndrome). But, when it happens over a shorter period of time it is downright scary.

I have two pictures in my head much as you would if you had a snapshot of your children ten years apart. Except that these snapshots are inside my head looking at each other and comparing notes. The me, that was then, is laughing. Smug in brightness of youth, the young me knows nothing of the time ahead, the trials and tribulations that lie in wait. The old me (the one now), looks back and wonder what happened. When was the change? The percentage of material that goes in one ear and out the other without stopping for a brief pause on the way through,is mind boggling. Literally.

Having a sieve for a brain has its downsides. Especially on a course like this. I have to work long hours into the wee hours, or longer, almost every day just to keep up. I have learned heaps but the question is will I retain it? I think about my younger me, still laughing, still oblivious. If only there was some way to reach back through the years and tell her…

In the meantime, there is another great thing that has come from this madness, besides the great people here, and the fun projects we have had the pleasure of trying. I have almost kicked the habit. Honestly, I don’t have time. And I need every one of those brain cells. I try to keep them like prisoners inside my skull but they are always looking for a sneaky way out.

So this weekend, with my daughter and my partner coming down, I’ll indulge to celebrate the end of a hard semester. But during the week? No more.

I’ll leave all that stuff to my partner, who is fond of both whisky, and beer, and still has enough brain cells for the both of us.

So what about this rock?

It is diatomaceous earth also known as diatomite or kieselgur. I have known it from my geology classes but I didn’t have a clue that it was involved in filtering beer. Diatoms are single celled algae that incorporate silica into their shells. When they die their bodies form the soft white rock.

It’s also used in flea powder, as a desiccant and bug killer. Maybe that’s another good reason not to drink beer.


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