Starting a brewery requires targeted investment, implementing a quality control plan, and knowing the basics. There are 5 basic elements to a brewery that produces quality beer.
1. Good Manufacturing Practice
is a combination of best practices for risk management, training, traceability and facility maintenance. While the exact requirements will vary from brewery to brewery, these practices are fundamental to producing quality beer and creating a safe and clean workspace.
A typical brewery needs to cover steps to meet all government regulatory requirements, such as food handling and equipment safety practices. Appropriate health and hygiene requirements should also be included, as well as the cleaning and maintenance of the brewery team and brewery equipment and tools (eg cleaning procedures for each brewery equipment). In addition, it should cover chemical use and storage, product date coding and proper pest control.
Even a small brewery will have multiple team members performing similar procedures. Breweries should have everyone follow the same correct steps to operate brewery equipment for brewing beer. In addition, ongoing internal audits of operational steps are required to ensure the rigour of these processes. This is a very important thing because it drives the consistency of the beer.
It can even come into play before the brewery is opened, everyone needs to follow proper design and construction protocols. For example avoid porous or fibrous materials (bare drywall, wood, etc.). Breweries need to use fabrics in washdown areas where cleanliness and bacteria are a concern.
2. Yeast Cell Counting and Viability Testing
Yeast is usually a living organism in beer and needs to be used and monitored carefully. When the amount of yeast is insufficient, the fermentation process may slow down or even fail to complete the fermentation. In addition, it can cause diacetyl in the finished beer, leaving an off-flavor similar to butterscotch or butter popcorn. Fermenting too quickly wastes a lot of precious yeast and creates other problems.
Stressed yeast due to low cell counts or improper storage of yeast can cause beer with undesirable characteristics such as green apple or rotten egg. To prevent yeast stress, every brewery should perform a yeast cell count and viability test.
Regular testing of yeast requires the use of widely available laboratory equipment, including microscopes and hemocytometers. You can find complete cell counting procedures on the websites of many yeast suppliers and other industry resources. Many brewers consider themselves “” and work to keep the most important biological factor in fermentation healthy, as well as the key to beer flavor and consistency – yeast.
3. Simple microbial detection
Brewer’s yeast is an important biological component, but other microorganisms are often undesirable because they can have an immeasurable impact on the final beer. Bacteria such as Lactobacillus and Pediococcus as well as wild yeasts such as Brettanomyces can easily contaminate the brewing environment. These devices, found on people, raw materials, air, or poorly cleaned equipment, can cause beer to spoil, produce off-flavors, unnecessarily cloudy and over-carbonated. Many times, these effects are only discovered after the product is packaged, distributed or sold to customers, detrimental to the brewery’s reputation.
Those breweries that follow closely can provide good brewery hygiene and prevent beer spoilage caused by harmful microorganisms. However, the presence of harmful microorganisms can only be determined by proper testing. The tube is recommended to detect those beer spoilage bacteria in finished beer. Brewers can use an outside lab for testing, or send samples to a brewery capable of testing.
None of these are terribly expensive or time-consuming practices, especially when considering the potential loss of revenue due to reputational risk from damaged beer or product recalls. Better microbiological testing during the brewing process, if possible, has been a way to help prevent potential problems. For many large breweries, this may be as low-tech as the “wort stability test”.
4. Prevent oxidation
People need oxygen to live, but beer does not. Oxidized beer can have a paper or cardboard taste and can mask the aroma and flavor that the brewer expects. Dissolved oxygen (parts per billion) in the finished beer reduces the shelf life of the beer to just a few weeks. Measurement is important and needs to be measured after filling. Because the longer you wait before measuring, the lower this resin will be. Oxidation of beer can occur in a number of ways, but the most common are improper cleaning, use of oxygen-enriched water, improper equipment operation and maintenance, or improper packaging.
Breweries that consistently follow standard maintenance and packaging generally avoid oxidizing beer, but here are some specific practices to keep in mind:
Cleaning and maintenance. Improperly cleaned and maintained pumps, valves and gaskets can cause air to enter beer equipment or packaged beer.
Well packaged. Make sure the beer is properly filled and capped to avoid excess air entering the beer while packing. But having the right amount of air and yeast in the pack is good for the purity of the beer flavor.
Breweries can bring huge benefits to troubleshooting by using devices that measure both upstream and downstream of potential oxygen entry points. Tools such as seals, pumps, etc. are helpful in helping breweries detect potential risks in beer and take steps to eliminate them.
5. Beer Sensory Analysis
Beer is not packaged without tasting in a full brewery. This is because of a rigorous sensory analysis program in place in a complete brewery. This is the most important beer quality check. Does the beer taste good? Would you like to drink again? Are your customers satisfied with the beer flavor?
Sensory analysis procedures can be simple and fun. There needs to be a selected and trained member of staff (who may not be brewers) in the brewery to pick out off-flavors and understand the appropriate stylistic characteristics of the brewery. These members are called the Sensory Analysis Team. They will taste the beer in progress before planning to pack. After the beer flavor is qualified, the beer will be packaged.
In addition, packaging and quality teams should also select some of the packaged beers to store for later tasting. This helps the team get a good idea of the shelf life of each style and provides insights into how flavor profiles change over time. You may even find that some reliable tasters spend very little time on the production floor, but are more aware of certain off-flavors than the most experienced winemakers.
Using a targeted, data-driven approach to quality assurance, breweries can save significant time and money and avoid potential future batch issues. Leadership team members must strictly adhere to each of the 5 essential elements and make improvements to the essential elements. We believe that your brewery can be a success!
If you’re ready to start a craft brewery, contact us. Our engineers will provide you with a list of craft brewery equipment and associated prices. Of course, we can also provide you with professional turnkey brewery solutions, allowing you more time to focus on brewing great craft beer. Very much looking forward to working with you, my friend!