written by a guest blogger: Jason King, Head Brewer at Hamburg Brewing Company
If this was a normal year, I would have loved to write about enjoying a great Buffalocal beer – probably the new Hamburg Louie IPA – while watching the Buffalo Bisons on a beautiful late-Spring evening. Since that’s not currently an option, I thought I would address the question that we’ve received the most at the brewery since the start of the quarantine. When I drop beer off to my family, friends and neighbors from a safe social distance, they all ask me the same question: “How is the coronavirus affecting the brewery?” My answer is surprising to most of them, as we haven’t had to change very much. Even before the pandemic, we (and I can safely say all breweries) spend probably close to 90% of our time in the brewery cleaning and sanitizing.
The difference between cleaning and sanitizing is crucial from the start of the brewing process to the day it is packaged.
Cleaning is designed to remove all visible dirt, soil, chemical residues and allergens from our equipment, utensils and work surfaces in the brewery. For example, after a fermentor is emptied of beer, we will use cleaning products to remove any signs of hop debris, kreusen (yeast and proteins that adhere to the fermentor during fermentation) and trub (sediment at the bottom of the fermentor) from the tank. Although the tank is perceived to be ready for new wort, what the naked eye doesn’t see is the possible bacteria left behind that would ultimately infect and ruin the next brew.
To make a tank ready for a fresh batch of wort or to make a brite tank ready for finished beer, we must sanitize. After cleaning, sanitizing reduces the number of microorganisms present to a safe level. Unclean surfaces will reduce the effectiveness of sanitizing. All surfaces that come into contact with wort/beer must be cleaned and sanitized every time. To achieve sanitation in our brewing vessels, we utilize a variety of sanitizing methods, including oxidizing sanitizers and heat.
In addition to our established standard operating procedures, we further implemented the Department of Health’s guidance to maintain social distancing measures to the best extent possible, and we are always utilizing gloves and masks. The combination of our cleaning and sanitization efforts will protect not only our employees, but our customers as well.
After writing that, I’m ready for a beer. Stay safe, stay healthy and don’t forget to support your Buffalocal breweries and local restaurants in these ever-changing times.