In previous articles, the Quality Management for Breweries was broken down into three steps:
- Quality Requirements Definition
- Quality Controls
- Quality Assurance and continuous improvement
This article describes in detail the first step, the definition of quality requirements for beer and the brewing process. The beer and the brewing process must comply with requirements in different areas, from product specifications, sensory analysis, food safety, customer satisfaction, costs, profitability, environmental impact, etc. It is necessary to document how quality will be measured within the process and the final product. So we will define quality controls, the method to take the measure, its metrics and acceptable min and max values for each parameter. We will review this in detail in next articles.
The creation of a new recipe needs a deep analysis about the costs and profitability of the product. We won’t review those requirements in this article and we will focus on the requirements of the beer itself and the brewing process. The viability analysis must be performed previously and we assume it has been done and accepted before the brewers has taken the decision to start brewing the new recipe.
The food and safety requirements of the brewery are supposed to be granted via a complete HACCP (Hazard analysis and critical control points). It’s important to ensure the plant is free of contaminations so the definition of a cleaning protocol is imperative. And to verify the efficiency and effectiveness of a cleaning protocol, some microbiological samples must be taken in the equipment (again we will see more in detail in next chapters). Then once the cleaning plan ensures that the plant is free of contaminations we can think about brewing.
According to its definition, the quality requirements of beer refers in general to have an acceptable color, flavor and aroma and to be free of contaminations. But that’s not enough for brewing, it’s important to detail the parameters concisely and how the quality of the beer and brewing process will be measured. Examples of variables such as the beer style, the alcohol, bitterness, colour, mouthfeel, absence of off-flavours or max acceptable values, etc…should be described in appropriate metrics in the recipe. That’s just referring to the beer itself.
It was mentioned before, the beer must be free of contamination and off-flavours or taints. However it’s also important to ensure that the beer is produced consistently in subsequent productions. For this reason we should take control metrics within the brewing process and not just in the final product.
Once the beer specifications are described in the recipe, we should analyze the impact of available ingredients, the technology equipment of the plant and the process followed to brew beer in the brewery. We will define quality requirements to these items:
- Ingredients: quality requirements for water, malt, adjuncts, hops and yeast.
- Brewing Process: quality requirements such us timers, temperatures, pH, gravity, water and electricity consumption, etc.
- Beer: quality requirements such us pH, colour, bitterness, turbidity, alcohol, final gravity, etc.
Obviously, we will define quality controls over each parameter defined previously, the method to take the measure, the metrics for each variable and the min and max acceptable values. The records will be saved for each production to compare between different productions. This plan will allow brewer to adapt the recipe if any of the variables change, take full control of the brewing process, check the quality of the beer before it’s sent to customers, brew same beer consistently and maximize the performance of the brewery adapting the processes if needed.
In next articles we will talk about quality controls more in detail, parameters, metrics and methods.