Nick Bigham (1); (1) Rahr & Sons Brewery, Fort Worth, TX, U.S.A.
The Anton Paar CBox is an important instrument in the industry and a tool that has helped implement change at Rahr & Sons Brewery and impacted the quality of its beer. The CBox is useful in many areas of the brewery, as well as many stages of the brewing process. This presentation focuses on how the CBox affected the impact of oxygen on beer in various stages. There are two points in the brewing process where oxygen is the main focus: wort and finished product. The wort is where oxygen is injected so that the yeast are able to strengthen their cell walls during the lag phase of cell replication. Varying levels of oxygen rates were measured using the Anton Paar CBox to determine sufficient levels of oxygen for an ale yeast strain as well as a lager yeast strain. Throughout subsequent brews in the same tank, oxygen was measured from the fermenter to ensure yeast remain in the aerobic phase. Oxygenation all at once or split up between knockout batches was determined from results. Pitching yeast all at once or before each knockout was also determined. Yeast viability was monitored to track yeast health and progress from each experiment. Tasting panels were also utilized to examine batch-to-batch variance under sensory analysis. The second area oxygen is a concern is in the bright tank. The CBox was used to lower oxygen levels in the bright tank during purging of the tanks. Multiple purging techniques were experimented with to find the optimum way of purging a tank with CO2. The Anton Paar CBox was also used to track down the culprit for letting oxygen into the bright beer—the centrifuge. When focusing on packaging in the brewery at Rahr, bottles and cans are the most susceptible to picking up oxygen when being packaged. The CBox has been instrumental in lowering oxygen in the package continually and will continue to be an instrument of use as we package. The oxygen intake from canning and bottling has both been lowered by 10-fold using the CBox. There are still upgrades and plans to take place that will lower TPO even more in both packaging lines, including a jetter on the bottling line and a more advanced canning line. The last use the CBox plays in monitoring oxygen is placing a time frame on packaged product to determine shelf life. The oxygen will be monitored consistently in bottles and cans in multiple conditions. Sensory analysis will also play a part in determining reliable shelf-life times for our packaged product.
Nick Bigham is a graduate with a B.S. degree in biochemistry from Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX. During his last semester at TCU he interned with Rahr & Sons Brewery to work in the lab. After graduation, he was offered a position to start the Quality Control program at Rahr. He accepted the position and after that Rahr sent him to White Labs in San Diego to take the Essential Quality Control Course offered by Siebel. After two weeks of learning the basics on how to run a lab in a brewery he began his career in Fort Worth at Rahr. Nick has grown the Quality Control program to an additional employee, where they cover quality by monitoring the beer through microbiology, sensory, and packaging analysis to name a few areas. Recently, Nick was awarded a scholarship from the MBAA Texas Chapter to attend the Brewery Packaging Technology Course in Madison, WI, for two weeks. He is excited to implement the knowledge gained from this course to impact quality on another level involving all facets of packaging in the brewery. He is driven to learn more and always pursue a higher quality beverage.