The Bruery Sours

The Bruery On Infection & Stepping Up Their Game In 2014

The Bruery has released a VERY open statement about the problems they faced in 2013 and how they plan to remediate them moving into the 2014 calendar year.

First off, let me start by saying how great of a job I think the Bruery does letting their customers know of issues as they arise.  I feel some breweries do not do enough or say enough when customers raise concerns or have issues with problematic beers.

The Bruery had issues or concerns with 5 of the approximately 45 bottled beers releases this year:

  • Ebony & Oak – infected; issued a recall & refund.
  • White Chocolate  – the ph was stable but has slowly began to drop showing some souring; a store credit for anyone who did not like it.
  • Cacaonut – lacto found in the beer from coconut, store credit issued.
  • Praecocia – a high attenuative yeast found probably from the apricots causing over-carbonation; stored credit issued if not 100% satisfied.
  • Barrel Aged Autumn Maple – recently discovered souring microorganisms, drink soon; if soured store credit will be issued.

Many brewers have made it very clear they have no intentions in making sour beer.  It’s very hard to control the yeast and bacteria used in sour production.  The Bruery mainly uses Brettanomyces, but they also dabble in using strains of lactobacillus and pediococcus.  In small amounts, some of these yeasts and bacteria are invisible to the naked eye.  They need to be used with great care in any environment they are introduced.  Having to deal with this problem themselves, The Bruery is introducing new quality assurance and control measures moving into 2014.

What The Bruery is doing to setup their game moving forward:

“We are extremely motivated to get these issues resolved and put procedures in place so they don’t happen again, and we’d like an opportunity to tell you about the steps we’re taking.”

  • Testing the microbiological stability of every single clean barrel before the beer is blended together in the brite beer tank
  • Invested in a barrel steamer. This helps seal the barrels, and kills just about anything on the inside surface of the barrel.
  • To avoid issues with post-fermentation addition of ingredients, they are looking into a few different solutions:
    1. Treating these ingredients with ozone gas before adding to the barrel is one potential solution
    2. Soaking in distilled spirit is another solution, although we need to do it in a way where we aren’t adding a significant amount of alcohol to our beer.
    3. The wine industry uses potassium metabisulfite (sulfites) to stabilize wine microbiologically.
    4. A very last resort is pasteurization.
  • In the case of adding fruit puree to clean beer, we are going to be adding it in the whirlpool rather than directly to the fermenter.
  • Lastly, the Bruery will be completely separating our sour beer production from our clean beer production.

By the end of 2014, we’ll be brewing wort and sending it over to our sour & funky barrel house, fermenting it there, and packaging there. Only clean beer will be packaged at the brewery on a new bottling line, and our existing bottling line will be moving over to the sour & funky barrel house. This will allow greater experimentation and focus on our sour & funky beer production and our clean beer production.”

“To understand why we’re so excited about this, we should fill you in on what we currently do. We brew a batch of beer at the brewery, move wort to our sour & funky barrel house (which also currently houses clean barrel aged beers), ferment and age it there, and then bring it back to the brewery where we package it on a dedicated sour bottling line. While we keep almost everything separate, we do share the same brite tank between sour and clean beer (and clean it really really well), yet it still concerns us that there’s a potential for cross contamination.”

“Though we are disappointed to see any beer come out differently than we were expecting, we believe this communication is an important step to take in order to continue being a craft brewery that our fans and friends can continue to support and trust. Certainly, we’d love to have a flawless record of beer releases, but with our continual experimentation and love for unfiltered, unpasteurized, living beer we’re constantly adding new and unusual things into the brewing process and we don’t plan on stopping!”

“We appreciate your support and sincerely apologize that the aforementioned beers did not meet your (and our!) expectations. We thank you for helping us grow and look forward to continuous improvement (and more beer experimentation!) in 2014.

The Bruery is constantly pushing the envelope to develop the best barrel aged program around.  The dedication to their craft is evident in the openness with their customers and the new quality control measures that have or are being put in place.

I have personally worked in very large fortune 500 companies and developing these types of policies and procedures are necessary for consistent quality and growth.  They will become the foundation of success for The Bruery moving forward.

I’m excited to see what is in store for us consumers and what The Bruery can accomplish as we push into 2014!

For more information please visit The Bruery’s blog:

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  1. AgentONeal

    I knew the White Chocolate was off! I mean, I hadn’t had it before but I never thought it’d be sour like mine was. I brought it with me to Yorkshire, England and had it in a tent with some duck. I think we were both kind of weirded out by the taste but didn’t say anything to be polite (And because it cost me a fortune). Eh, I’ve loved everything else but I hope to try White Chocolate in its purest form at some point…

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