Food Quality & Safety recently published an article entitled The Art Behind Quality Craft Beer. This article discusses five important aspects that should be considered when crafting quality beer including keeping it fresh, making the yeast happy, sanitation, education, and equipment. These components are extremely important to ensure the breweries intended flavor profile. As the craft brewing industry continues to skyrocket, it becomes imperative that breweries differentiate themselves in the market.
Keeping It Fresh
Quality is a characteristic that most breweries hope to achieve. One way to ensure that their final product is of quality, breweries must keep it fresh. What does this mean? It means that from start to finish, precautions must be made to make sure the flavor profile is just right.
In the article, they discuss having a reliable distributor that knows how to take care of beer. "Beer is better fresh, almost universally," Jim Kuhr, director of brewery operations says. "As a brewer hands over control of their product when it hits the distribution channel, that’s one of the challenging aspects of trying to deliver that product to your consumer, that flavor you’re looking for. All brewers struggle with that, big and small."
Before this process even begins, another aspect must be considered.
When testing throughout the beer making process, whether it is dissolved oxygen or pH, ensuring fresh equipment such as buffers and solutions should be considered. The accuracy and flavor profile depend on how the beer is brewed, and having inaccurate readings mars the process.
It should also be a point to make sure your electrode is in good working condition. Like a new car off the lot, the value lowers as it's driven and may eventually need some maintenance. The same can be said for an electrode; proper maintenance will extend its longevity and accuracy.
Happy Yeast = Quality Beer
When breweries make beer, they must go through many stages including malting, mashing, lautering, fermenting, conditioning, and filtering. Throughout all of these stages, fermentation is one of the most important aspects as it must be paid close attention to. Ensuring that the yeast is taken care of through this process is an important step. "Some people don’t understand that yeast is a living organism that you need to treat right, just like you need to treat your tomato plant right if you expect it to grow," says brewing quality consultant Alastair Pringle.
A major part toward the end of this process is keeping the oxygen levels down. “Zero would be the goal,” Harpoon’s Schier says. "Any exposure to oxygen after the beer has fermented will shorten its shelf life and remove the gustatory enjoyment of the beer, make it smell sweet and flat and flabby. Brewers work really hard to keep their oxygen exposure down, and a dissolved oxygen meter is an incredibly valuable piece of equipment to help with that."
Unlike other food industry professionals, the craft beer industry does not have to worry about pathogens when brewing because no pathogens can survive in beer with normal alcohol content, bitterness, carbonation, and pH. However, brewers must be constantly monitoring for “spoilage organisms.” When discussing spoilage organisms, brewmaster for F.X. Matt says that this “would make beer not taste good but would not make it harmful. It doesn’t take much of a lapse of process to allow those sorts of bacteria to get a foothold, and then they will quickly have a negative impact on flavor.”
This is why sanitation is crucial from beginning to end. Sanitation must be taken into consideration when testing your brew. Ensuring that your electrode is clean is important in getting an accurate measurement and helps to avoid any negative impacts on the intended flavor.
As this industry continues to rise, so do the educational opportunities for those entering the field. As identified by The Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA), there are currently 32 colleges and universities in the US and Canada that offer certificates or degree programs in brewing.
"We look for people to work in our quality department who have chemistry, microbiology, or food science degrees. To work in the brewery they are better off with a mechanical, electrical, or chemical engineering background. But at a brewery like ours, there are also plenty of ways to get into the industry as a novice trainee,” Schier says.
Science education has become extremely important in this industry, as it becomes of great use when trying to understand what is actually happening in each stage of the brewing process. This way the brewer can be more responsive when things don’t go to plan.
Understanding the equipment you are using is equally as important to having a background in science because without proper knowledge of the equipment being used, brewers can mistake a faulty meter for user error, which could result in slowing down the beer making process.
Hanna Instruments provides users with training and support before and after a purchase has been made. Training can be beneficial to the customer because it decreases user error and helps the brewer fully understand their equipment and what to expect if readings are off. Our technical sales consultants are given over 80 hours of technical training to be more effective to our customers. By understanding and educating our employees, we are better prepared to help find brewers a solution.
In this article, craft brewers begin to talk about how the beer equipment industry is moving towards miniaturization, automation, and making things simpler for brewers and equipment operators.
"For 30 years, every time you went to a meeting somebody had a bigger instrument that was more complicated and more expensive, and that’s really not what the craft industry needs,” says Pringle. “It needs simpler methods, smaller instruments. For instance, we used to measure haze in beer with a meter that cost $18,000. Now you can buy an LED turbidity meter for $600. This is the way the craft industry needs to go. Because these small brewers can’t afford the highly specialized technical people that the large breweries have, but with the newer equipment they can do just about the same.”
Hanna Instruments offers a variety of accurate, affordable meters designed specifically for beer making. For over 30 years the company has prided itself on modern innovations that help simplify the testing process. Our main goal is to make instrumentation that will help our customers get the job done quickly and with ease. Hanna constantly strives to improve our products, service, and support in order to provide our customers with an unsurpassed experience.
Hanna Instruments carries equipment for the brewing industry including:
As a leader in innovation Hanna Instruments developed the HALO Wireless pH Meter, which uses Bluetooth Smart Technology to connect to Apple and Android devices running the Hanna Lab App.
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