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Why we require HACCP in Brewery Production?

Julie Baggett

Master Brewers Certification (UC Davis class of 1996), BS Biology Minor Chemistry (UWG 1993)

Julie Baggett is an experienced brew consultant with a demonstrated history of working in the food & beverages industry. Skilled in Cleaning & Sanitation, Sensory Evaluation, Beverage Industry, and Alcoholic Beverages. She is a strong consulting professional with a Certification focused on Master Brewers from University of California, Davis. Brewing in India for over 5 years now and looking forward too many more, Julie adds “Indians are entrepreneurial in nature and much more successful than Americans, I think.”

In this issue of BW, she contributed pearls of wisdom on proper HACCP in a brewery.

What is HACCP?

Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) is an internationally recognized system for reducing the risk of safety hazards in food. HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level.

HACCP in a Brewery

Proper HACCP starts before the brewing day. The first thing that must be sorted is making sure one is getting the proper crush in one’s mill. The easiest way is to shut the rollers all the way and gradually increase the gap. Please note that cheaper mill rollers may not be parallel and need to be adjusted at each end to achieve parallel configuration. If one gets flour and the whole kernel in one crush, that indicates non-parallel rollers. Take a #14 mesh size sieve and run your crush through. 70% by weight should be retained on top of the sieve. Vacuum mill area after every use.

At this point, check the TDS for the hot liquor and cold liquor tanks. A good TDS for brewing water is less than 50ppm. If higher than this, the RO membrane could need back-flushing, and/or the ion exchange cylinders regenerated. Since most Indian water is quite hard, 500+, in a pinch, one can take water and bring to boil, transferring to hot liquor to cool overnight and remove temporary hardness as precipitate the next day.

We would want to check pH of the mash which should be between 5.0-5.7, 5.2 to 5.5 being optimal. For every -0.1pH acid adjustment, add 1.0% by weight of sauermalz, not to exceed 10%. As we mash in our grist and convert the starches into sugar, we want to check the conversion at the end of the saccharification step with iodine tincture. Residual starch is black in colour.

During lautering, we want to first check and the last running’s with a manual, temperature adjusted refractometer. First running’s, of course, will depend on the recipe. Last running’s should be cut off below 3˚ Plato to prevent excess leaching of astringent husk tannins into the wort.

A good vigorous boil should evaporate 10%/hour by volume. I recommend at least 75 minutes to drive off DMS precursors and maximize hop utilization. One should check at end of the boil for
an original gravity of the wort.

Once fermentation begins, the pH and gravity will drop rapidly. Ales will generally drop to pH 4.0-4.5. Lagers will be 4.4-4.7. If the pH drops below 3.5, start tasting for off flavours and check under the microscope for beer spoilers. Once the hydrometer reading stays the same for 2 consecutive days, an ale can be crash cooled, but a lager may need a diacetyl rest at 18˚ C for up to a week.

Sanitation Audit

There should be sticky traps for insect /rodent pests in malt storage and mill areas. These areas should be kept free of dust. Check these areas with a UV light weekly for activity. Store bulk goods like rice and oats away from the malt as these have a much higher rate of insect infestation. One can also just keep rice and oats in smaller bags so there is no open product. Check inside vessels for soil formation around the steam/glycol jackets and manway shadows. Check BHSE vessels for a distinct smell (generally left behind if not cleaned properly) before mashing in. One may have to run some hot water through the spray ball to flush it away, especially if you skip a brewing day. A brewery is only as clean as its filthiest drain. If the drains are filthy and/or stinky, pay special attention to the flooring. Check for biofilm formation under all tanks. Look for black mold around glycol chilled tanks, pipes, beer pumps, gas and beer dispense equipment. Taste the beer daily both from draft lines and straight from serving tanks. Clean draft lines weekly with peracetic acid, every 2 weeks with caustic, monthly with phosphoric acid being especially careful not to leave any chemical residues and checking with pH papers.

Cleaning and Sanitation Chemicals

When one has received a new batch of chemicals, it is imperative to have a current, accurate MSDS on every chemical used in the brewing environment. Some chemical companies will google up a random MSDS and pass it off as their own. Don’t let this happen to you! Do your homework. A sodium hydroxide solution at no more than 50% vol due to limited solubility in water. I do not recommend the use of caustic flakes as they absorb moisture, becoming difficult to handle and generate caustic dust. A strong acid can be anywhere between 30-95% and can be very hazardous indeed to handle. One cannot mix chemicals accurately without knowing their concentrations! MSDS is also important to have if any staff have accidental exposures to help doctors treat them.

The following safety gear’s are mandatory:

  • Heavy nitrile gloves provide chemical and some heat resistance
  • Safety goggles, vinyl or nitrile apron, slip-proof and steel-toed boots (these should be worn whenever handling concentrates or changing fittings during CIP)
  • Eyewash and shower station
  • A particulate mask or dampened cloth tied around the nose and mouth during milling and grist handling operations to minimize dust inhalation

HACCP is a systematic preventive approach to food safety  from biological, chemical, and physical hazards in production processes that can cause the finished product to be unsafe and designs measurements to reduce these risks to a safe level.

Our Chemical Options

  • Sodium Hydroxide: This product can remove machining grease from new equipment and brown organic soils from dirty tanks and draft lines. It should be used at least 80 deg C. at a 5% vol solution for a half hour circulation. When one is rinsing caustic off at the end of the cycle, use phenolphthalein drops or pH paper to ensure a thorough rinse. A BHSE should see at least one caustic cycle per week. One can take post cycle caustic and a brush to clean the floors
  • Hydrogen Peroxide: This product enhances oxidation during the caustic cycle without the corrosive effect of chlorine. It also breaks down quickly, allowing the caustic solution to be reused. At least a 30% concentrate is necessary for proper oxidation. Add a 0.5L per 1HL of well mixed caustic solution
  • Phosphoric acid: This product removes white inorganic soils from tanks and draft lines. It can be used at 2% vol at ambient temps for a 30 min. cycle. A BHSE should have an acid cycle at least once a month. If hard water is a problem, the acid cycle should be more frequent and stronger in concentration
  • Nitric acid: This product passivates the stainless steel, to minimize corrosion and soil adhesion. An ambient 5% solution can be run for an hour per tank. Do this with new equipment and repeat once or twice  a year
  • Peracetic Acid: This is the only legitimate no-rinse sanitizer. If using 5% concentrate, use a 0.1% working solution. Run at ambient temp for 15 min in tanks and hoses
  • 70% isopropanol or ethanol: Place in a spray bottle for spraying sample valves and fittings right before connecting
  • Quaternary Ammonia: Used as a fittings bucket soak. 180ml/10L water, change out every other day. Quat ammonia may also be applied in a foam gun to floors and drains at the end of every brewing day for black mold and biofilm control
  • Bleach: Use as a drain and scrub at least weekly

Do not allow bleach to mix with quat ammonia. Listen to your tanks during CIP to make sure you are getting maximum mechanical energy during your cycle. Make sure that all residual chemicals are rinsed away with pH paper.