Quality Procedures in the Brewery

Quality Procedures in the Brewery

How is quality managed in your brewery? Is it managed correctly and efficiently?

Most breweries have a quality control plan, probably the reactive part of a total quality management plan, so without quality assurance, the proactive part of the quality. If you read the checklist below there might be some items that are not being handled or just partially in your brewery.

Let’s review some quality procedures in the brewery. This list does not intend to be a quality assurance plan but it reflects some points that are frequently ignored when managing the quality:

  • Cleaning and safety plan
    • Instructions, products, frequency and tools
    • Effectiveness control procedures: microbiological tests bi-weekly or monthly to ensure the cleaning protocol is effective. It usually requires taking samples of clean water into plates after cleaning in several critical points of the equipment.
  • Operation and maintenance manual:
    • Name of each operation
    • Instructions
    • Tools
    • Persons in charge of each operation
    • Documents where information and incidences are saved
  • Specifications of raw materials for each recipe AND batch
    • Water: chemical composition
    • Malt: technical specifications provided by the supplier
    • Hops: technical specifications provided by the supplier
    • Yeast:
      • Technical specifications provided by the supplier
      • Pitching rate for fermentation and bottling (refermentation)
      • Counting
      • Viability
      • Expiration date
    • Adjuncts: unmalted grains, spices, …
  • Recipe
    • Process diagram
    • Timeline for each step: milling, mashing, lauter, boiling, etc.
    • Timeline for additions (grains, hop, yeast,…)
    • Timeline for quality controls
    • Notes for keeping records of all incidences during each process.
  • Basic quality controls are:
    • Temperature
    • Timers
    • pH
    • Room Temperatures
  • Microbiological plan
    • Cleaning effectiveness
    • Beer
    • Equipment
      • Preventive: bi-weekly or monthly before after cleaning
      • Corrective, on different steps of the brewing process in case some plates show growth in final beer.
  • Control Diagrams – Statitsical analysis
    • Graphics of parameters measured in the brewing process to be able to compare between batches and evaluate if a parameter is inside the acceptable range or it’s out of control, on which case a corrective action must be taken.
  • Quality Assurance Plan
    • Follow up quality controls and results and evaluate if quality objectives are met. If not, decide if a change in the method, metrics or tools is needed.
    • Continuous improvement methodologies to ensure the processes are monitored proactively and changes are a consequence of follow up actions and not corrective operations only.

As you can see these are just some examples of procedures that should be defined and documented in your brewery. Depending of the size of the brewery the procedures will be more extensive. Anyhow, a quality assurance plan can be adapted to small craft breweries with same goals, preserve quality of the beer.

If some of the procedures above are not registered in your brewery then you will be potentially exposed to a contamination, non-consistent brewing process or simple low efficiency and performance and less profitability consequently.

It’s possible to manage the quality in your brewery proactively without a huge investment. A poor quality will impact directly in your brand image and in case of contaminations it will be difficult to recover the confident of the customers.

So how much is the cost of the quality? We should say, what’s the value of good quality versus cost of poor quality for your brewery?