Brewery is a segment where various types of beer are produced. This segment of alcoholic beverages, although centuries old has evolved over time and implemented technological advancements. From being a domestic or cottage industry a few thousand years ago, breweries now have vertical modern production facilities. They have refrigeration-enabled machines which run on electricity to maintain cold temperatures and required fermentation of yeast. The equipment here is mainly made of stainless steel with copper cladding. The process of beer making involves testing the beer sample at every step as part of quality control. Brewing comprises six main steps till the beer is bottled and sealed. All this requires a clean sanitized environment as well as equipment to avoid contamination of any sort. This post discusses why brewery cleanliness is important.
Steps Involved in Brewing
Before we get on to the importance of cleanliness and the sanitizing process in brewery industry, knowing the steps in brewing is important. Hygiene and sanitizing at each of these stages is important as bacteria are an important part of the process. So, if there is even slight contamination at any stage, and entire batch can be spoiled, adding to production wastage and expenses. Also, in cases of contamination or unclean facilities, there can be legal implications. Based on the FSMA law, the FDA can come and inspect your facility and ensure the adherence to federal regulations. Brewing a beer comprises six steps:
- Milling: Some source of starch such as rice grains is selected for brewing. The malted grain is crushed and milled to release the starch. This starch is converted into sugar for fermenting later. Before this step, the grain storage areas, operating equipment along with their cooling fans, and so on are sprayed with a sanitizing solution.
- Mashing: The grain is mashed and added to an insulated vessel. It is mixed with hot water for activation of enzymes in the grain and subsequent fermentation. Here temperature regulation is an important aspect. After both milling and mashing, the equipment is cleaned as it may have grain residues or even bacterial contamination. The excess yeast also needs to be removed.
- Lautering: Here the mash is separated from the sugary viscous liquid or paste. A lauter tun is a vessel in which the fermented liquid is filtered from the mash. Hot water may again be added if necessary to release the remaining sugars in the mash. At this stage, a good sanitation system with a good quality chemical solution is sprayed on equipment such as pipes, hoses, fermenters, conveyor lines, and so on.
- Boiling: This filtered fermented liquid is boiled in a kettle for at least two hours. Hops are added to it to get the bitter taste and aroma. It also sterilizes the liquid mixture. This liquid is poured into an agitating chamber. Any residue is filtered out, and the brew is allowed to cool. This is mostly done is robust stainless steel kettles. While stainless steel is resistant to heat, corrosion, and so on, it may leave behind biofilms of bacteria which adhere to the metal surface, and may lead to contamination and subsequent food poisoning. Hence disinfecting with a disinfectant solution these vessels after each use is crucial to kill any pathogens inside.
- Fermentation: Here, yeast is added to the cooled and filtered brew which is poured in a fermenter. The yeast converts the sugar into alcohol, and this takes about two weeks. Lager beer requires six to eight weeks for fermentation.
- Conditioning and Packaging: These are actually two sub steps of the process. The beer here is filtered into a bright or amber colored container through a pump. It is ensured there is no residue left behind and carbon dioxide is added to it. Here, testing for contamination is crucial. It also needs to be tested for complying to the required standards. After thorough testing, it is bottled or canned and sealed on an assembly line. For bottling and packaging, steaming the area can be an effective way of sanitizing, and is widely used. Dry steam is used to remove residues and stains of dirt, oil, and so on. This also saves water consumption.
Why Cleanliness and Sanitizing Process in Brewery Industry Important?
From these process steps, it may be clear that beer making is a time consuming process, wherein, appropriate temperatures need to be maintained in each step to get the required output. Cleaning and sanitation of containers and equipment is important not only to hinder bacterial growth but also maintain consistency in the beer taste. Aside from this, sanitizing the floors, drainage systems, hoses, water storage units, hydrometers, and so on is also equally essential.
Cleaning involves residue removal and filtering the particulate matter. However, this does not kill bacteria, for which sanitizing is essential. While yeast is a crucial part of beer making and fermentation, the excess of it, especially wild yeast, may contaminate the brew and make it unfit for consumption.
Also, there are various types of bacteria which may produce pigments or certain byproducts, and this may impact the fermentation process. Some bacteria may make the beer toxic, leading to food poisoning, while other may simply leave a bad odor and taste. By and large, the bacteria or any other germs must be removed, whether they are harmful or not, and this is why sanitization becomes important as it kills all the germs.
Today various chemical solutions and accessories are used for sanitization in breweries. For instance, sanitizers with a blend of peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide and nitric acid is widely used in breweries. You also have a cleaning wand foaming system through which the floor and equipment can be sanitized and the proportion of the sanitizing chemical can be controlled.
If you are looking for superior quality sanitization solutions for your brewery, ensure you source them from reliable manufacturers and suppliers. Cannon Water Technology is one of the well-known distributors of various types of instruments and chemical solutions required in breweries, industrial water treatments, and so on. The company stocks products from reputed brands.