On February 10, 2016, Rocky Mountain District held its winter meeting at Dry Dock Brewing Company’s North location. The meeting started with social hour and self-guided tours around the facility followed by announcements and dinner.
Business announcements began with President Dana Johnson thanking Dry Dock for hosting the meeting. Past-President John Kemp introduced this year’s e-board again as a re-cap from the meeting at Coors in November. He also talked about upcoming events scheduled for this next year: on May 20th Colorado State University will be hosting the RMD Technical Summit and World Beer Congress coming up in August from the 13th to the 17th. The annual out-of-towner was also brought up at this time, taking place on the weekend of July 9th and planned for Salida right now. MillerCoors will be our last quarterly meeting this year and the date is not set as of right now.
Kevin DeLange, one of the owners of Dry Dock, presented first on the importance of developing standard operating procedures (SOPs). Dry Dock produced over 20,000 barrels of beer last year with their expansion into their North Dock facility, which houses a 40 barrel, 4 vessel system. This facility with planned expansions should be able to boost their overall volume to 60,000 barrels in the upcoming years. Kevin opened his presentation talking about the purpose of SOPs and why they are important: they focus on quality, it allows for transparency through departments, helps with efficiency improvements, and is a living document, allowing all employees to be involved with reviewing and modifying them. Kevin then went over their in-house procedures for developing them and the process of reviewing and approving them. He also gave examples of not only departments having them, but specifics as well to elaborate on how detail oriented they need to be, for example not just having a single brewhouse SOP, but one for each step along the way such as lautering, boil, whirlpool, etc.
The second presenter was Dan Driscol of Avery Brewing Company presenting on “Multiple Yeast Strain Management: A Genetic Approach”. Avery uses multiple yeast strains consistently and keeping beer uniformity is a big deal. Dan opened his presentation discussing what quality assurance questions need to be addressed to make this happen, driving home the point of beer consistency via yeast health while maintaining 40+ different brands per year being produced by 6 different yeast strains for the majority of the brands. Dan went on to discuss their quality control program for monitoring bacterial contamination or yeast cross-contamination, with the first step in detection occurring in the lab on agar plating followed by sensory data backing this up. This is important to look at as any beer that is no longer sellable costs money and time at the end of the day. To help aid in preventing this and adding another step of security, Dan reached out and was working with the University of Colorado’s BioFrontiers Campus, the Robin Dowell Lab in particular. This lab is a next generation sequencing lab that is helping to develop various genetic markers per yeast strain to allow for real-time identification via PCR. By doing this, Avery is able to look at any fermentation or yeast source they want and test for specific genes to ensure only the desired flavor compounds are being developed, typically due to a cross-contamination of yeast strains. Dan talked about the downsides to this method and the amount of work necessary for this due to it being yeast strain specific, and consequentially brewery specific, and the cost of the tests. Dan wrapped up his presentation reminding everyone that consistency matters and to invest in getting a better understanding of your beer.
Big thanks to Kevin and Dan for their presentations and information shared with the district.