What Brewers Can Learn from Microbiology


If you’ve ever tried your hand at brewing your own beer, you know it’s more challenging than simply walking out of a supply store with a brew pot and a thermometer. The entire brewing process involves a great deal of microbiology and the best brewers have more than a basic understanding of the science.

Modern beer consists of four main ingredients: water, starch, hops, and yeast. The quality of each ingredient can have a significant impact on the flavor of the beer, with levels of bacteria found in tap water giving the finished product a sour, acidic, or foul taste – let alone the presence of hazardous bacteria potentially ruining an entire batch for your brewery.

According to a 2003 study, two bacteria are especially harmful for brewing operations: Lactobacillus and Pediococcus. From 1980 to 1990, about 3/4 of the beer spoiled in Germany were caused by the bacteria. Hops have anti-microbial properties, but aren’t immune to Lactobacillus brevis.

Incorporating more hops in the recipe helps combat bacterial growth, but yeast is the key element in creating fermentation. Yeast itself is a microorganism and without it, beer would be nonalcoholic, noncarbonated, and disappointing. Careful brewers take special care to grow and cultivate their yeast strains to produce different results. The better their understanding of how yeast interacts with the rest of the ingredients, temperature, and microorganisms in the water, the more accurate a brewer can be in achieving their intended flavor and finish to a beer.

Ready to get scientific with your brewing? Whether you’re a DIY brewer or expanding your brewery’s capabilities, taking the science of microbiology into account can only improve your process – and your product. S2 Media may be able to help. We offer a wide variety of culture media for yeast analysis and cultivation. Contact us for more information or to place an order.

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