News from the Lab: Quality control
By Neva Parker
Have you ever thought about introducing a quality
control laboratory program in your brewery? Ever thought it was just too
costly and too complicated?
Think again, my friend. Implementing a basic QC
program during your normal brewing operations is actually very simple
and cost effective in the long run. Depending on your brewery’s needs,
there are a wide range of tools out there that can offer you the most
basic to the most in-depth analysis that you can find.
On the microbiology side, one of the most important
(and simple) tests you can perform is a cell count and viability check.
This greatly improves the efficiency of your brewhouse by knowing
correct amounts of yeast to pitch. It will also allow you more
consistent fermentations from batch to batch. At the next level is
testing your yeast, wort, or beer for brewery contaminants. This can be
done at the brewery through media kits or out-sourced to a laboratory
that specializes in brewery microorganisms. Many brewers send samples to
us for this type of testing on a monthly or quarterly basis as a means
to monitor their production and sanitation practices. If a problem
arises in a batch, they can be sure to identify it and eradicate it
Other more in-depth tests on your yeast include:
petite mutant, attenuation/flocculation analysis, microorganism
identification, and vitality. Beer and wort analysis is another category
of testing that can be integral to the brewery. Your beer can be
analyzed for real extract, apparent extract, carbohydrates, calories,
protein content, apparent attenuation, pH, color, and IBU. We can also
perform valuable tests using gas chromatography. We can test for such
factors as alcohol by volume and total VDK or diacetyl.
These tests are an important way to evaluate your
products and can be used to cross-check your own analysis, procedures,
Finally, look for our Valentine’s Day special. We all
know brewers love their beers more than anything else. So have your beer
tested during our first QC day on Feb. 14. Your beer, and your
customers, will love you for it. More details will follow in CBQ and at
is lab manager for White Labs.