Inaugural Basics of Beer Quality Workshop Provided Hands-on Education

The Brewers Association (BA) held the first Basics of Beer Quality Workshop at Allagash Brewing Company on September 8. The workshop was led by BA Quality Instructor Mary Pellettieri. Mary has extensive experience in brewing quality and authored Quality Management: Essential Planning for Breweries, an indispensable resource for craft brewers.

This hands-on workshop was designed for brewers that have little or no laboratory experience. All but two attendees were employed by breweries that produced less than 5,000 barrels per year, and the majority produced less than 1,000 barrels per year. Attendance was limited to 36 attendees to provide ample opportunity for practicing the featured laboratory techniques and methods.

The workshop featured a morning lecture that focused on common beer-spoiling organisms and methods used for their detection. Mary also outlined how to effectively count yeast and assess yeast viability using methylene blue and a hemocytometer. Building on the lecture, three stations were setup to demonstrate the following methods:

  • Serial dilutions of yeast slurry, cell staining with methylene blue and hemocytometer cell counts
  • Aseptic sampling and sterile plating using differential media
  • Gram-staining and catalase tests for identifying beer-spoiling bacteria.

The afternoon lecture focused on defining basic terms used to evaluate physical properties of beer, as well as methods to evaluate diacetyl concentration, dissolved oxygen, sanitation, carbonation and packaged beer stability. The afternoon demonstrations included:

  • Using a Zahm & Nagel Series 7000 Air Tester to evaluate packaged CO2 and O2
  • Wet mounting beer samples to analyze beer sediments with a microscope
  • Measuring wort density via hydrometer, densitometer and refractometry

In addition to the lecture and hands-on demonstrations, attendees were provided with a workbook that included illustrations of techniques and methods covered during the workshop. Thanks to the American Society of Brewing Chemists, the workbook also included excerpts from their Methods of Analysis for aseptic sampling, examining and staining yeast, cell counting, detecting microorganisms, gram-staining, and photos for identifying microorganisms on differential media and using a microscope.

The second Basics of Beer Quality Workshop is scheduled for November 10, 2017, at Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s North Carolina brewery. The BA plans to continue this program in 2018, so keep your eyes open for announcements about upcoming workshops on BrewersAssociation.org and the BA Forum.