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The Future of Beer

Inspired by the amazing talks and data shown at Brewing Summit 2018, Cellix has a round-up of the most talked-about topics in the beer and brewing world for the coming year; here are 5 things we learned from Brewing Summit 2018.

We attended with a prototype of our Inish Mini-Bar – a portable device to test bacterial or yeast contamination of draft beer that gives results at the bar-side, in minutes. A simple ‘traffic light’ system tells you whether the beer is clean (green) or has either a low (amber) or high (red) level of microbial growth.

It's perfect for ensuring consistent quality of your brand – ideal for anyone involved in quality control, line cleaning, or brewery testing.

Here are 5 things we learned at #BrewingSummit2018:

1. Trending up: Sour Beers

One thing we noticed this year was the prevalence in talk about sour beer production. Sour beers, such as the Lambic, Gueuze and Flanders styles traditionally popular in Belgium, have an intentionally tart or sour taste and are intentionally brewed with wild yeasts or bacteria that in the contexts of other beers would be considered spoilage organisms.

With the increased interest in these beers, problems arise relating to controlling unwanted organism growth while allowing the variety of strains that give sour beer it's characteristic taste. As more brewers get into sour beers, we look forward to seeing where this takes quality control and microbial detection.

2. Trending up: Barrel aged beers

Barrel aged (BA) beers are a relatively new phenomenon, when compared with the practice of aging spirits in barrels, emerging as a practice in the early 1990s. There's a reason it didn't take off straight away; it's a challenging practice on many levels. It takes time (up to 3 years) for the beer to age, which requires space and good microbial control.

However, with the increase in the market for premium 'luxury' beers, these higher price craft brews could begin to be a part of the normal product line of many more breweries.

There was certainly interest about BA beers at Brewing Summit 2018; we attended an amazing talk by Avi Shayevitz, entitled 'Do oak barrels contribute to variability of the microbiome in barrel-aged beers?', where he highlighted that in an 18 barrel batch, 1-3 will spoil; this is a premium product and that represents significant losses in time and effort.

Avi had some interesting charts breaking down the changes in microbial composition over the course of 2 years aging in oak barrels. We found it super interesting to understand maybe how products change over time.

Barrel aging beer is an investment in terms of time, effort, space, and packaging – the barrels themselves are even expensive as they are bought pre-used, having been used for various uses; may have contained vanilla extract, sea salt, rum, or cognac, among others. For 1-3 barrels in an 18 barrel batch to spoil is a huge loss!

We envision that in future as these beers get more popular brewers will have to find innovative ways to monitor for spoilage and track it's origin if they want to be successful at BA beer.

3. Branching out with yeast strains

Traditionally, most lager is brewed with bottom-fermenting S. cerevisiae yeast strains and ales with top-fermenting strains. It's not unheard of for brewers to branch out, but what they branched out with was relatively limited until recent years.

Lots of talk at Brewing Summit 2018 was based around using unconventional yeast strains for brewing – of particular interest to us here at Cellix was Matthew Winans' talk on 'Brewing Yeast from the Far East, Saccharomyces arboricola and the hybrids', where he discussed using non-conventional strains of yeast.

4. Pain point: S. cerevisiae diastaticus

The yeast variant S. cerevisiae diastaticus overproduces CO2 by its ability to break down maltose from the wort, resulting in exploding bottles/ kegs, economic loss to the brewery and potentially an injury. The importance of being able to detect this at very small quantities came up several times during the conference; we particularly were interested to see Matthew Farber's talk on the development of a selective medium for detection of Saccharomyces cerevisiae var. diastaticus in the brewery.

Moving forward, we'd expect to see more investment of time and research within the industry to solve this problem.

5. Marrying sensory analysis to quality attributes

Another general theme this year was the emerging research within the industry on the relationship between sensory analysis and quality attributes. While knowledge on this topic is limited currently, given other trends in the field (like sour beer), we need an increased understanding of how contamination with microbes affects the taste and experience of drinking beer.

So that's it for our round-up!

All the information in this article comes from what we saw this year at the Master Brewer's and the American Society of Brewing Chemists Brewing Summit 2018 which Cellix traveled to in sunny San Diego.

From Sunday to Wednesday all us attendees were treated to a variety of workshops, discussions, and research showcasing the Inish Mini-Bar.

Questions? Comments? Contact us on our Twitter or LinkedIn.

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