The shut down last winter definitely paid off from a quality standpoint. As part of our physical plant improvement project we installed a “newer” generation Meyer bottle filler. This version has several technological updates over our old machine. As a result, we are starting to see huge improvements in packaging quality, which translates into better quality beer for consumers!
You might have noticed that our bottle fill levels are much more even than they were in the past, with many fewer “low-fill” and “high-fill” bottles. Most importantly, the new filler runs consistently, without many starts and stops. That allows our filler operator to “dial in” the parts of the filler that purge the air from the bottle prior to filling and then again just before the crowns are applied. More consistent purging means less air in each bottle, which should lead to crisper, fresher-tasting beer.
As part of our quality control tasting program we force-test beer in a hot (85-90 degrees F.) environment for two and four weeks. This is what we call “hot box” beer. The idea here is that one week in the hot box equals about one month on a warm shelf in the market. We taste these stressed beers compared to beer stored properly, all from the same batch and bottling day. These tastings are set up as a blind differential, where each taster has three samples in front of him or her. They smell and taste each one and try to pick out the different one. In the hot box beers, we typically taste off flavors from oxidation. These can be described as stale, old, wet dog, cardboard, etc. The main culprit of these flavors is too much oxygen in the bottles.
During some of our routine tastings, we have noticed that fewer people are able to taste a difference between hot box samples and properly stored beer. This is a big step forward for the brewery. We are moving in the right direction, keeping oxygen out of bottles and keeping CO2 in! The packagers and engineers have done a fantastic job, as have the rest of our team who all play a part in making quality products!
- Quality Control Manager