While we all like to quote historical anecdotes about beer being safer to drink than water, there are critical factors in brewing as well. I have joked about the big lager breweries who seem obsessed about the technical side of beer, but, on the other hand, if you don’t have the necessary knowledge and focus on quality, you’ll soon be out of business.
The Austrian Health and Food Agency AGES took a closer look at some of the brewpubs in three regions, Upper Austria, Tyrol and Salzburg, and the results are not very encouraging.
Twelve of the 25 samples were had microbiological defects. Two of these samples were also criticized for not having original gravity as claimed.
The twelve samples had various problems: beer-spoiling bacteria, lactic acid bacteria or unwanted yeast. Two samples from Upper Austria contained- rather unusual – Escherichia coli, probably due to an unsanitary tap or leaking equipment.
AGES points out three critical factors for brewpubs:
- Poorly cleaned pipes and tanks, increased risk of infection with internal components (such as flow meters and valves) .
- The yeast used, which may be purchased or from the brewery’s own production.
- The dispensing system; compensation valves are complicated constructions and they are heavy and cumbersome to clean. Poorly cleaned beer lines will over time form a biofilm, which is not easily removed.
I dare say that these problems are not limited to Austria…