Trials and Tribulations

Posted: 23 January 2012

Trials are a way of life in many industries either as a part of new product development (apparently only 5% of new product development makes it to a final marketed product) or as part of the continuous improvement process (think of how Dyson has changed the vacuum cleaner to a bag less cyclone system with a ball rather than wheels). It is no different in brewing.

Brewing is of course a simple process, sugar from malt combined with yeast produces alcohol, carbon dioxide and more yeast. The art (or more accurately science) of the brewer is to get this process to achieve 3 key things

1: Produce a beer that looks and tastes good

2: Reproduce the same beer consistently as often as it is required

3: Produce new products that appeal, are different to the beer produced in 1 above whilst still being able to achieve criteria 2.

In order to achieve these objectives we have a limited number of parameters that we can adjust – the raw materials (typically the malt, adjuncts and hops), the mashing conditions (temperature, time and pH), the yeast (each strain gives characteristics to the beers brewed with it) or the fermentation conditions (again typically time and temperature)

This then leads neatly back to trials – varying one or more of the parameters above to achieve the desired (or requested) result. The tribulations follow where the product is not what we aimed for or very occasionally where the process goes totally wrong and we have to start again from scratch.

Currently we are trialling several new process variations as well as a number of new product recipes – hopefully we will beat the 5% success rate for new product development but only time will tell – as soon as they are available I will of course let you know.

So here is to successful trials and minimal tribulations



Stewart Tricker - Senior Brewer