Arming Brewers With Tools to Ensure Better Beers
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Whether you are small scale craft brewing enthusiast or a large multinational with your beer in every supermarket, ensuring your product is high quality and consistent is imperative to maintaining ongoing success and reputation. However, half the battle is having the tools to enable you to do this.
For some companies, they may have onsite facilities and staff with the knowledge and skills to perform essential analyses, but others must rely on external labs to provide this information, adding time and cost to the process. Multiple parameters and characteristics must be examined, coordinated and interpreted. Therefore, a tool which could simplify and take the pain out of the process could be a welcome addition to a brewery.
We spoke to Manas Sawant, Sr. Product Manager, UV-Vis Spectroscopy at Thermo Fisher Scientific about BeerCraft, their latest software solution aimed at assisting brewers to achieve quality and consistency in their beers.
Karen Steward (KS): There are many attributes of a beer that could be measured, how did you identify the parameters and characteristics to include in the assay? Is there capacity to expand this in the future?
Manas Sawant (MS): With the BeerCraft Software, brewers, brewing chemists and quality specialists can perform 20 popular methods to reach the desired beer characteristics. These methods cover analysis of various attributes including Tristimulus Color, IBU’s, VDK, Total Polyphenol, FAN amongst many others. Organizations such as The American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC) and European Brewery Convention (EBC) regularly publish methods to ensure quality, consistency and safety of malt-based beverages and their ingredients and as new methods are introduced, the BeerCraft software can be expanded to incorporate such advancements.
KS: What preparation is required of your samples prior to measuring the desired parameter?
MS: Preparation and work-up of the samples depends on the parameters under scrutiny. For instance, measurement of Tristimulus Color requires degassing of the beer sample, whereas the protein methods require a little more complicated colorimetric work-up.
KS: How does BeerCraft compare with previously available analysis resources?
MS: Brewers that take their brew quality seriously may already be performing varying levels of analyses on beer batches. There is a wide range of analytical methods used by breweries, some qualitative and some quantitative. Some breweries have sophisticated laboratories in-house, while others send samples to external analytical testing laboratories. The BeerCraft Software presents breweries the option to now bring routine UV-Vis spectrophotometer-based testing in-house with a comprehensive coverage of methods. With an in-house testing setup, brewers can now get instant insight into various parameters. This instant insight eventually results in consistent quality with efficient operations. The BeerCraft software also includes 20 methods, all configured on the instrument, so there is no need to connect a computer to the instrument anymore. The networking capability allows the instrument to export data to a safe destination for archiving. USB and Wi-Fi printing capability means better lab space management and sharing of resources.
KS: What is the uptake of BeerCraft and how has it been received by the brewing industry? What impact is it having on brewing?
MS: The BeerCraft Software was released at Pittcon in March 2019 and the impact on the industry is yet to be seen. BeerCraft Software is designed to help breweries of all sizes achieve batch-to-batch consistency across all brews.
KS: What size operations is BeerCraft aimed at, is there flexibility to accommodate small “cottage industry” brewers right through to large scale production?
MS: Micro, craft, regional and even large-scale brewers can benefit from an in-house solution like BeerCraft, along with a benchtop UV-Vis Spectrophotometer for routine analyses.
KS: Are there any attributes that have been particularly challenging or that are proving elusive in the current analytical format?
MS: There is a wide range of analytical methods employed by craft brewers; qualitative and quantitative. Qualitative testing allows for human error which can negatively impact batch-to-batch consistency. Quantitative testing can be expensive and delay production with long lead times. With BeerCraft Software 20 popular analytical measurements are included and it doesn’t require a computer allowing breweries to test their batches in real time, make adjustments and continue their operations under their own roof.
Manas Sawant was speaking to Dr Karen Steward Science Writer for Technology Networks.