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Starting a Brewery? Home Brewer? Quality Control is a Must.

Aug 03, 2020 10:26AM ● By Amy Todd

Starting a Brewery?  Home Brewer?  Quality Control is a Must. 

Amy Todd, owner of Zymology Labs and Quality Control Expert weighs in on how easy a good quality control plan is to put in place. 

Vermont is synonymous with quality but not every brewery has their own quality control program. Starting a quality control program doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Here are five ways to get you started.

Document control

On brew day, record the mash temperature, pH, gravity readings, when you added what and how much. Record what actually went down on brew day, not what you wanted to happen. Include lot numbers of ingredients and keep track of batch numbers. Troubleshooting will be easier if all this information is organized and easy to read. 

Standard operating procedures, or SOPs are a great way to ensure you and your employees are doing everything the same way.


Cell counting

Adding too much or not enough yeast will stress out your yeast causing off flavors and inconsistent fermentations. Every brewery who re-pitches yeast should have a microscope to look at the viability and number of yeast cells/mL or g available before pitching yeast into a new tank.  You can get everything you need for cell counting for under $500.



Sensory panel

Start by tasting and smelling your beers along with ingredients. Come up with true to brand descriptions for each beer and invest in an off flavor spike kit or a visit to the grocery store. A sensory panel helps with off flavor identification, trouble shooting in the brewhouse, and flavor consistency.

Gravity/pH tracking

Chart your daily gravity and pH measurements to see how closely your fermentation curves match up to different batches of the same beer. This can be the first step in identifying a process that needs improvement.


A lower than normal pH can be a sign of an infection but only if you know where the pH normally finishes.


Further testing

Use an outside lab for the tests you can’t do yourself. Get the ABV, color, IBUs, final and starting gravity tested at least once so you know where your beer actually falls compared to your calculations and gravity readings.


The more data you have, the easier it is to look for trends and proactively stay on top of quality. The more you know about your beer, the easier it is to avoid problems before they even happen and work to make your beer even better.


Check out for more QC tips.



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