Laboratory Manager Conor McClay discusses Brewlab’s professional analysis services and the value they can deliver to your brewery.
It is essential to know the alcohol content of a finished beverage before it goes to market for both duty purposes to satisfy HMRC requirements and for the consumer’s knowledge. Falling outside the product’s advertised ABV range can have consequences such as legal ramifications and loss of reputation. Partaking in this analysis on a regular basis can provide valuable data to the consistency of the product with any deviating results providing early indications of possible complications such as fermentation problems, or inefficiencies in the mashing process.
This method uses top of the range equipment in line with HMRC requirements to accurately determine the alcohol of the product as well as the original gravity and the present gravity.
Analysing the colour of your product can be a helpful indication of the quality of malt ingredient used and locate any possible issues during the boil. If the spectroscopy results are deviating from the expected data this could indicate a variety of issues taking place during the production such as inconsistencies in the malt components or incorrect ingredient preparation etc. Routine colour analysis can provide valuable data to monitor the consistency and efficiency of your brews.
Analysing and recording your products pH is an important part of brewing quality control as a steady pH is an important indication of brewing consistency. As part of a routine analysis pH results can be a useful tool for determining production consistency and be a useful indicator for the shelf life of the product. If the test is carried out regularly anomalies in the results could be indications of inconsistencies in alkalinity and salt management in the liquor preparation and mashing. They may also indicate contamination with acid producing bacteria which are a cause of batch rejection.
Routine bitterness analysis should be a part of any diligent brewer’s quality control system. The analysis provides valuable information with any deviation from the expected EBU/IBU being a useful indication of errors in the production. The issues that can be picked up from this analysis include changes in the efficiency of extraction in the boil and a change in the hop ingredients making it essential to track to ensure that your final product remains consistent in its quality.
Our Full Chemical analysis package incorporates the ‘Essential’ Chemical analysis for any brewer who is concerned with the quality of their beer. This package includes ABV, Bitterness, Colour and pH. This service will provide you with the relevant data needed to spot any quality issues as they arise ensuring that you always produce the highest quality beer.
Understanding the microbiological hygiene of your brewery is of the upmost importance and is often neglected leading to significant losses such as product disposal. As such, regular analysis should be performed as part of regular QC procedures. This service provides microbiological assessment of any sample taken throughout the brewery allowing you to mitigate any risks from contamination.
Bespoke Compliance Packages
Her or His Majesty’s Revenue and Customs HMRC is the government department responsible for assessing and collecting taxes.
Beer Duty is chargeable on the following types of beer if their strength is more than 1.2% alcohol by volume (ABV):
- any other description of beer
- anything else made or sold described as beer or a beer substitute, including beer mixed with non-alcoholic drinks – for example shandy
Beer is liable for Beer Duty as soon as it is ‘produced’. This is when the earliest of the events below takes place. When the beer is:
- removed from the brewery
- fit for consumption
For duty purposes alcoholic strength is the percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV) in the beer. This should be expressed to one decimal place, for example, 4.19% ABV becomes 4.1% ABV. Ignore figures after the first decimal place.
An independent analyst must test the ABV of each of your products, at least annually, to confirm consistency with calculated results. The results of the independent analyses must be held in your business records.
SIBA, the Society of Independent Brewers, was established in 1980 to represent the interests of the growing number of independent breweries in Britain. SIBA currently represents around 830 independent craft breweries and their vision is ‘to deliver the future of British beer’ as the ‘voice of British independent Brewing’.
As well as representing independent craft brewing members in the press and lobbying government on behalf of brewers, SIBA also run regional and national independent beer awards for cask, keg, bottled and canned beers, host regional meetings for the benefit of members as well as the UK’s biggest beer & brewing trade event.
This package takes on board the requirements specified by SIBA and creates and analysis plan that will ensure your brewery meets the analysis standards expected by SIBA.
SALSA (Safe and Local Supplier Approval) plus Beer accreditation has been developed in association with Cask Marque, to offer brewers a standard tailored to their industry and size of operation and to allow approved members to approach new trade partners with the reinforced confidence that their product is of a high-quality and free from contaminants. The audits are undertaken by specially trained auditors with experience in the industry and thus it is essential that all requirements are met before the audit.
Brewlab SALSA package covers all the analysis your brewery will need to satisfy that section of the SALSA audit.
Our custom analysis packages are specific to your brewery helping ensure you brew consistently high quality products. The laboratory team use information about your brewery that will cover all your brewing analysis requirements all the way from basic chemical understanding through to advanced genomic microbiological control.
Once we have the required information about your brewing equipment, products and brewing schedule, we create a tailormade due diligence plan. This is aimed at giving you confidence in the microbiological status of your plant and final products, as well as allowing you to assess brewing consistency in terms of the ABV, pH, colour and bitterness. The parameters define the flavours of the final products, so by comparing results for the same beers over time you can access how true to type they are.
The plan ensures compliance with industry codes of practice such as SIBA, covers HM revenue and customs requirements, and can be shown to prospective trade clients to demonstrate quality control and brewery standards. Information correct as of December 2018.
Our Due Diligence packages qualify for a discount from our normal list prices.
Taste profile is a form of organoleptic analysis that provides a comprehensive breakdown of the flavours and faults our professionally trained and respected tasters can pick up. The results are displayed in a clear and easy to understand manner using a spider graph; rating the strength of the flavours and faults picked up. A brief description of the beer is also provided on the document put together by the head taster; this can be used to help provide accurate descriptions of your beer to the market as well as ensuring that the product is correct to desired specification.
This service assesses the shelf-life characteristics of your beer to defined parameters, such as microbial activity, flavour and colour stability. This can be carried out of all packaged beer.
Liquor is a brewing term for water used in brewing.
Supply liquor is obtained from local boreholes or direct from water company supplies. Brewing liquor that is used in the process may be adjusted in-house once the base chemistry is analysed and understood.
A gluten intolerance or sensitivity is the body’s inability to digest or break down the gluten protein found in wheat and certain other grains. If you have a gluten intolerance, it’s important to avoid foods that contain gluten.
Dried, germinated barley, what is referred to as barley malt, is a major ingredient in any kind of normal beer. As beer is brewed, the malt goes through various stages, being mashed, boiled and fermented. At each stage, the gluten content of the malt drops, so the final bottled result has much lower levels than the raw malt.
The gluten levels in a product can be labelled as follows.
<20 are classed as gluten free, <100 are classed as low in gluten.
The nutrition facts label is required on most packaged food in many countries. Most countries also release overall nutrition guides for general educational purposes. Nutrition facts labels are only one of many types of food label required by regulation or applied by manufacturers.
Nitrosamine compounds arise from the nitrosating of amide or amine groups during malt production or by bacteria during fermentation. Levels in malt are today very low at less than 0.5mg per Kg due to careful management during kilning of malt. Levels due to bacterial action depend on the cleanliness of vessels and yeast used in fermentation.
Heavy metal contaminants are one prevalent type of water pollutant. They are persistent in the environment once discharged and removal from source waters is necessary to ensure a clean drinking water supply.
The problem of heavy metal pollution arises from several sources. Heavy metals such as uranium can naturally exist in ground water. Lead can be present as a result of lead solder in copper piping. Mercury and cadmium can be a result of power plant emissions.
Additionally, a variety of industrial processes can produce problematic heavy metal concentrations in discharged water from factories that are harmful to humans and can contaminate agricultural land.
This contamination results in fermentation of dextrin sugars and gushing of bottles, casks and kegs due to excess carbonation. It often takes weeks to show and is a hazard as beers have often been released to trade before it is evident. Contamination is most evident in live cask and bottled conditioned beers but may be present in filtered beers if hygiene is compromised during filling. Our test uses advanced DNA PCR methods to detect low levels of contamination and can be rapid to give you direct feedback on products and reassurance on your brewing environment.