How Do Tech Advances Help Your Lab Team?

Problems arise in your brewery all the time. In a discussion with Nick Bigham, who is the Lab Manager for Rahr & Sons Brewing in Fort Worth, finding real-time solutions is the key.

Bigham gave a few examples of how he and his lab help the brewery squash down issues with the increases in the brewery’s technology

One issue that arose recently for the team was seeing a seam getting loose on the canning line through the brewery’s seam detection software and needing to adjust the canning lines so they didn’t have leaky cans in the market.

“A lot of people — as do we — have learned the hard way and have had leaky cans in the market,” he said. “And that’s why we have invested in this equipment and there’s been other equipment that we’ve invested in.

“We haven’t had problems and we will continue not having problems because we have invested that money and time in that.”

The brewery gets real-time evaluations from their Anton Paar C-box. If they get a spike in oxygen levels during canning and see a big spike in tests of cans, they can stop the line, make an adjustment and then continue the test until they’re back in the specs for shelf stability.

“It happens now and again,” Bigham said. “It’s still a shelf life of three months or whatever we set our shelf life for. But it’s more to do with the perception and making it the best possible.

MadTree Brewing’s Trent Leslie noted that a brewery’s lab doesn’t have to be extravagant. even un-dedicated space is beneficial if you look at Charlie Bamforth’s “Standards of Brewing,” book he says.

“The cost of quality in a brewery is typically 5-25 percent of the cost of sales,” he noted. “These costs are incurred with or without the presence of a lab because a cut in the quality program results in more lost product, recalls, and damage to reputation. A lab — which can literally be the size of a closet or no defined space at all — is meant to prevent these losses, thereby saving the brewery money.”

Read more about Rahr & Sons and how Nick Bigham has set up his lab in the May/June issue of Brewer Magazine.

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