Beer-Brewing Equipment for Independent On-Site Quality Control

In the wake of the substantial challenge presented by the growing community of craft brewers to major producers such as AB InBev, the demand for beer-brewing equipment and related ingredients has been experiencing a marked upturn. The campaign for the revival of what is widely known as real ale began in the UK, and its influence has been spreading steadily in many other countries. Today, around 70 microbreweries are now competing with, among other household names, the iconic Castle Lager perfected by Charles Glass.

The taste of any given brew derives from the nature of its ingredients, the method of its preparation, and any treatment that may subsequently be applied to it. The end result is a huge range of flavours that ensures consumers should be able to find more than a few varieties that will appeal to their palate. While it may not be necessary to be a giant corporation in order to compete in this market, sound quality control of the beer-brewing process and the necessary equipment to undertake it, are definite prerequisites. In addition to ensuring that the unique taste of each beverage remains consistent, there are many other qualities that also need to be closely controlled when producing this age-old product of the hop for public consumption.

Among the more obvious of these is the alcohol content which, by law, must be displayed on the label as a percentage of alcohol by volume (ABV). Equally important, and directly related to the taste, is bitterness. Expressed in International Bitterness Units (IBU), it is actually a measure of the concentration of iso-alpha acids present, rather than a human perception. No longer determined by lengthy titrimetric procedures, modern beer-brewing equipment includes instruments and reagents to perform this, and many other tests, in a fraction of the time required by traditional laboratory methods.

Other parameters that need to be measured are the levels of lactic acids, acetic acid, vicinal diketones (VDK), free amino nitrogen, total sulphur dioxide, and fermentable sugars, as well as the physical qualities, colour, and pH. Once again, to perform these analyses in the past would have required multiple methods and the full resources of a quality control laboratory. By contrast, all of these parameters may now be determined by means of rapid colorimetric reactions whose intensity can be quantified with the aid of a photometer.

From the producer’s viewpoint, this type of beer-brewing equipment offers a means with which to eliminate any need to maintain an on-site laboratory or, alternatively, the cost and delays involved when outsourcing the QC function to a third party. Instead, the analytical kits offered by the Italian manufacturer, CDR, under its world-renowned Foodlab label, are designed to provide food and beverage producers with an independent quality control system that requires no special expertise or premises.

The CDR BeerLab kits consist of pre-measured, high-quality reagents in vials, pipettes with which to measure the test samples accurately, and a photometric analyser with a built-in incubator for temperature control of the various reactions. With an integrated help function to guide the user and a graphic printer to record the results, this is the only beer-brewing equipment necessary for reliable, independent, on-site quality control.

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