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The benefits of a QC/QA system

More and more small and mid-sized brewers are making changes to monitor and improve the products and processes in their breweries. They are realizing that there are substantial benefits to developing a quality control and assurance (QC/QA) system for any size brewery, including:

* Better stability and shelf life of packaged beer.

* More consistent results from batch to batch.

* Reduced likelihood of beer loss due to yeast failure or spoilage organisms.

* Improved fermentation speed and flavor production.

* Greater profitability through loss reduction.

Those brewers who have no experience in creating a QC/QA system may think that it would be overly costly or complex to put such a system in place.

"Not necessarily," said Lyn Kruger, President of the Siebel Institute of Technology and senior instructor of the Siebel Institute Brewing Microbiology course (Oct. 15 - 25, 2002). "The cost of creating a quality control program can be recovered in the value of a single batch of beer. If you calculate the cost of a good course in brewing microbiology, plus building a modest lab with basic equipment, it is substantially lower than the retail value of a single discarded 10-bbl batch of infected beer."

Donít you have to be a biochemist to create a good brewing lab? "Oh, not at all," Kruger said. "The average person completing our two-week course is able to work in a standard brewery lab right away, and even build their own small-brewery QC/QA lab. It really is surprisingly simple to do."

When asked, Where should a small brewery start in building a quality system? "First," she replied, "you must understand sensory evaluation, including smell, taste, and appearance. After that, you will need to know which organisms can affect beer, where you will find them and how to detect and identify them. You will also need to know the basic principles of cleaning and sanitizing. Finally, you will need to know some yeast management techniques. That is practically all you need to know for basic QC/QA."

"Even if you donít want to do the work yourself, you should consider using a well-established brewing laboratory for testing your beer," Kruger said. "It can really allow you to produce better, more consistent beer with each batch, and the cost is actually quite affordable. And who doesnít want to make better beer?"

You can find out more about the Siebel Institute of Technology at www.siebelinstitute.com or by calling (773) 279-0966 in Chicago.