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Production Process Insights

Australian brewery ensures ingredient quality with automatic sampling

Posted by AJ Naber on 1/26/16 7:30 AM
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Brewery benefits from automatic beverage sampling

As Homer Simpson once so eloquently said, “Here’s to alcohol: The cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” The processing of raw ingredients into a final product can cause problems for breweries big or small. Ingredient management, and in particular verifying consistency and quality, doesn’t have to be a problem if you choose the right automated sampling solution.

Challenge

Before beginning the brewing process, a Western Australian brewery needed to sample its malt raw ingredients for consistency, quality and sugar content. This was a solid and powder materials sampling application.

Beer in general is made from just four main ingredients, which are varied to create the unique flavor of each beer. The ingredients are:

  • Water - Finished beer is more than 90 percent water. The quality and characteristics of the water used for brewing, with its dissolved minerals such as calcium and magnesium, affects the taste of the finished beer.
  • Starch Source - Malt is a grain product that contributes flavor and color to nearly all types of beer. Barley is the most commonly used grain for malting and beer making, but some malts are made from wheat, rye and dinkel (spelt wheat). Grain is malted by first allowing it to germinate, which converts the grain’s starch into sugar. It is this sugar – maltose – that is needed by the fermentation process. (the yeast converts the sugars into carbon dioxide and alcohol). After germination, the grain is dried, which kills the grain but maintains its natural sugars. The temperature at which the grain is dried determines the color and flavor of the sugar, or finished malt. A low temperature results in a pale or blonde malt, while a high temperature results in a dark or caramel malt.
  • Hops – The primary commercial use of hops is to flavor beer. The hops flower is a plum-sized cone that has a cluster of tiny, sticky, yellow globlets, called lupulins. The lupulins store acids and oils that give beer its floral, citrus and herbal aromas. Hops also contribute a bitterness that balances the sweetness of the malt.
  • Yeast – A single-cell organism, yeast ferments beer by converting sugars into alcohol and carbon dioxide. Two types of yeast are used for beer: ale yeast and lager yeast.


The brewery wanted to replace its existing local-made sampler – a poor solution that didn’t work well – with a Sentry® automated sampling solution. Automated sampling allows a composite sample to be easily and safely obtained with no need for direct human interface or interference. This ensures the sample integrity and increases efficiency over manual sampling, as production continues during sampling with no downtime. Because no operator is exposed to pressure, temperature or the media being sampled, sample automation is safer for operators. And, because no operator can potentially contaminate the process, sample automation is safer for the end consumer as well

The brewer currently was sampling from a screw conveyor with free-flowing, free-falling malt in a location with temperatures of 20-40ᵒC (68-104ᵒF). The sample lines to the ground required a 10-meter (33-feet) drop, and the sample size required was 4 liters (1 gallon). The existing sampling location was not optimal as the screw conveyor location made it difficult to obtain a representative sample and there was a chance the angle would cause the sampler to leak.

Solution

Our design engineers proposed relocating the sampler to the falling chute at the end of the screw conveyor for a better application solution, which was not offered as an alternative by others they consulted with. The brewer decided to locate the sampler at the chute, and after review, considered both the Sentry RX and Sentry D2 automatic strip samplers.

The Sentry D2 sampler takes an automatic strip sample when a solenoid-operated actuator rotates a slotted sample tube through the product flow. Simultaneously, a motor-driven auger draws the sample to the discharge point. This sampler would be located across the chute, with the sampler tube staying in the line.

The Sentry RX sampler takes an automatic strip sample when a solenoid-operated air cylinder extends a sampling tube into the process line. While in line, the tube continually takes a sample and simultaneously discharges it to the collection point. This sampler would be located in the chute.

Because the brewers preferred that the sampler probe be retracted when the sampler was not in use, they chose the Sentry RX sampler.

Automatic representative sampling of all types of foods and beverages is needed to ensure quality and safety. Implemented by customers across the globe, Sentry sampling solutions are ideal for any solid, powder, liquid and slurry food, beverage or pet food application. Our easy-to-clean designs feature FDA-approved seals, and several Sentry ISOLOK® samplers are conformant to 3-A Sanitary Standards (third-party verified), as well as USDA, Canadian Grain, FGIS and NOPA standards.

Learn more about our food and beverage sampling solutions. 

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Topics: Food & Beverage

Written by AJ Naber

AJ likes all kinds of foods and beverages. Not only interested in consuming them, he also offers expertise in engineering and installation of process systems for the dairy, food, beverage and brewing industries.

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