Yesterday I attended the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) Rocky Mountain District Technical Summit where 12 speakers shared lots of pertinent info for brewers. Here are my three takeaways from the event:
- The most over-looked piece of equipment in the brewery also happens to be one of the most important: the glycol system. The glycol system allows for temperature control during fermentation, aging and in the brite tank but many brewers do not give their glycol unit much thought. That is until it breaks down, typically on the hottest or coldest day of the year. Then brewers have to scramble to get it up and running again as fast as possible. Both Dan Stromberg of GF Piping and Damon Reed of Pro Refrigeration gave excellent presentations about the do’s and don’ts of glycol systems and both shared compelling pictures of units that went terribly wrong due primarily to neglect.
- The importance of having a sensory lab in the brewery as a means to improve quality. Many of the small breweries I visit do not have a sensory lab where beer to be packaged is evaluated by trained and qualified “taste testers.” Jordan Kelly and Katie Nasiatka of Odell Brewing Company gave an excellent presentation on how small brewers can train and qualify employees to be involved with sensory and set up a sensory lab in their own brewery.
- Speaking of sensory, Christopher Schooley of Troubadour Maltings gave a very interesting talk on malt’s impact on the “energetic boom” – self-expression that’s created when craft brewers combine special raw materials (like boutique malt and fruity hops) and specialized tools, with knowledge and experience to create flavorful and unique beers. Chris’ background is in specialty coffee and he’s applying his coffee knowledge to help brewers make great beer from malt that Troubadour produces and sells in Colorado and across the country.
See which other events I’m attending this year on our brewing & distilling events page.
Dana Johnson, Technical Director, Craft Brewing, Birko, can be reached at DJohnson@birkocorp.com or (303) 289-1090.