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Quality assurance and quality control (QA/QC) is both a system and a state of mind. In Quality Labs for Small Brewers, author Merritt Waldron walks you step-by-step through the process of establishing and writing a quality program for your brewery. Your quality policy should align with your company values and inculcate a quality-first culture throughout your brewery. Building an effective quality program will empower staff to directly influence the consistent production of safe, quality beer from grain to glass. A good quality program has many moving parts but it is underpinned by good manufacturing practice (GMP) and food safety requirements. GMP covers every aspect of a brewery's operation, not just how personnel comport themselves, but how goods in are handled and stored, how beer is held in the warehouse, and how equipment, plant, and the grounds are maintained. Learn how to set standards and critical control points, and how to effectively monitor your process so that any deviation is quickly addressed. Discover how policies, procedures, and specifications can help ensure quality throughout every process. Involve your staff in establishing standard operating procedures, corrective actions, and improvements. Learn how to effectively delegate responsibility and also ensure that management is armed with the information they need to ultimately make what may be some tough decisions. If the worst happens, understand that being able to make a tough call and having a robust recall procedure in place means you can move quickly to rectify matters, which helps your brewery retain the confidence of your customers and distributors. Brewers will see results through the application of GMP and food safety prerequisite programs. Your quality manual laying out standard operating procedures, product specifications, and corrective action plans will give your staff the confidence to implement your quality program. With these programs in place, the author then takes you through each area of your brewery operation and breaks down how key parameters are measured and analyzed at critical control points. Sampling plans are outlined for monitoring density, temperature, pH, yeast viability and growth, alcohol, carbonation, dissolved oxygen, titratable acidity, fill height, and packaging integrity. Explore setting up an effective sensory panel, even a small one, that will help ensure each beer remains true-to-brand. Waldron outlines building your brewery laboratory and looks at how to implement an in-house microbiology program. Throughout this, the focus is on scaling your efforts to the size of your operation and always being ready to expand your quality program as your brewery grows. The author makes it clear that no brewery is too small to implement QA/QC and discusses pragmatic solutions to building out your capabilities. Beyond taking meaningful, accurate measurements, the author also explores how to analyze data. Learn some basics of statistics and data organization and how to apply these techniques to continuously monitor processes and spot when corrective action is needed. These routines will help pinpoint any risks or areas of improvement and ensure that only quality beer reaches the customer, time after time.
Combining his passion for science and craft beer, Merritt Waldron grew the quality program at Rising Tide Brewing Company in Portland, Maine from 900 to over 5,000 barrels. An avid homebrewer for 15 years, Merritt holds a degree in physics from the University of Southern Maine. He is highly active in the brewing community and speaks about quality at the Craft Brewers Conference, MBAA district meetings, and the New England Craft Brew Summit. Merritt is currently Quality Director at Baxter Brewing Co. and resides with his wife in Portland, Maine.