Beer and Mixed Beer Beverages
Microbiological quality control of raw materials and products of the brewing industry. Fast, specific and reliable – no inhibitors, no false-negative / false-positive results.
Beer spoilage microorganisms – risks and consequences
Due to its low pH value, its high CO2 and alcohol content and the bittering agents it contains, beer generally does not provide good living conditions for most bacteria and is therefore usually not susceptible to contaminations. Nevertheless, some beer spoilage bacteria, like Lactobacillus spp., Pediococcus spp., Pectinatus spp. and Megasphaera spp., have adapted in a way that allows them to grow undisturbed even under these conditions. In most cases, these microorganisms do not pose a health hazard to humans, but can cause off-flavors and thus lead to the loss of entire batches and to significant damage to a company‘s image. If contamination is suspected or has already occurred, the entire process chain needs to be investigated as quickly as possible. The analysis process can be extremely time-consuming and can even lead to a production stop for a certain period of time. The economic losses in this case are enormous, which is why reliable and fast microbiological quality control is absolutely vital for the brewing industry.
How can beer spoilage bacteria be detected?
Cultre-based detection of microorganisms via nutrient media is simple and inexpensive, but takes a lot of time. In addition, up to 99% of all bacteria cannot be cultivated.
Molecular biological methods (e.g. PCR) are fast, but the presence of inhibitors in the sample material and the detection of dead cells frequently produce false-negative or false-positive results.
Microbiological quality control with VIT® gene probe technology
With VIT®, beer-spoiling microorganisms can be detected swiftly and specifically, independent of their cultivability. Inhibitors in the sample material do not play any role. The bacteria cells remain intact throughout the analysis, which enables a clear assignment of the signals and a reliable quantification of the cells. Both finished products as well as samples from all stages of the brewing process, including yeast propagation, can be examined. Our decades of experience in detecting bacteria in beer and mixed beer beverages make us the ideal partner in this field. We have developed our test systems in close cooperation with the renowned Chair of Brewing and Beverage Technology (Technical University of Munich, Weihenstephan, Prof. Back). Satisfied customers all over the world trust our technology.
Your benefits at a glance
Specific: exact identification of bacteria independent of their morphology or cultivability
Fast: low detection limit and easy handling
Only living bacteria: dead bacteria are not detected
Robust: no use of interference-sensitive enzymes
Universal: can be applied throughout the entire production chain (raw materials, in-process control and end product control as well as yeast propagation)
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In case of a suspected or manifest contamination of the end product, the enitre process chain has to be examined as quickly as possible. With VIT®, all stages of the brewing process can be investigated quicky and specifically in order to locate the source of the contamination.
A contamination of the yeast or the return yeast can cause an entire batch to be discarded. Thanks to the rapidly available and highly specific VIT® results, the yeast can be released swiftly and become a safety factor instead of a risk in the production process.
End product control
Before a batch is released, the finished product has to be tested for beer spoilage bacteria. With VIT®, this can be done quickly, specifically and easily. The result is a clear release decision.
Quality assurance at the highest level
You have found a microbial contamination in your sample and would like to check what damage potential there is for the production? We offer a comprehensive service portfolio and a broad product range of test kits for fast and specific quality assurance of the entire production chain - from raw material to end product.
With our services you don‘t have to worry about anything. Just send us your samples. Results are available within 1 to 3 working days after sample receipt.
VIT® Test Kits
Easy application and evaluation via fluorescence microscope. Fast, safe and reliable detection. All consumables are included in the test kit. Package size: 25 analyses.
Beer spoilers – sensory faults and identification
What effect does a contamination have on the product? Where is the source of the contamination? Depending on the type of beer spoiler, the answers to these questions may vary and specific alternative scenarios can be considered or excluded.
Lactic acid bacteria
Although there are many different families, genera and species of lactic acid bacteria, only a small fraction of their representatives are regarded as beer spoilers. These include: Lactobacillus brevis, L backi, L. collinoides, L. plantarum, L. rossiae, L. coryniformis, L. buchneri, L. harbinensis, L. paucivorans, L. acetotolerans, L. casei, L. lindneri, Pediococcus claussenii, P. inopinatus and P. damnosus. Contaminations with lactobacilli cause a sour taste of the end product and with pediococci a sweetish caramely-buttery taste. In addition, they lead to cloudiness and/or sedimentation.
A distinction must be made between obligate and potential fermentative yeasts. Obligate fermentative yeasts, also known as spoilage yeasts, including, among others, Saccharomyces cerevisiae , S. bayanus, S. exiguus, Brettanomyces spp., Zygosaccharomyces spp. and Schizosaccharomyces spp., can lead to over-fermentation in the end product. In the worst case, this can cause beverage containers to burst and thus represents a considerable danger for the consumer. In addition, these types of yeast are, in combination with other simultaneously occurring microorganisms such as acetic or lactic acid bacteria, one of the causative agents of film formation on the surface of the beverage.
Megasphaera spp. und Pectinatus spp.
Beer contaminated with Pectinatus spp. or Megasphaera spp. is characterized by an unpleasant, foul smell reminding of hydrogen sulfide. In addition, these organisms lead to a pronounced cloudiness in the end product. Both beer spoilers are strictly anaerobic and typical examples of secondary contaminants. Contamination of the end product can be usually traced back to insufficient cleaning and disinfection in the bottling process.
If contaminations with pathogenic organisms occur, the cause is usually a lack of hygiene at the dispensing system or at the counter and not the production process or the end product. Due to its low pH value, the high CO2 and alcohol content and the bittering agents it contains, pathogenic bacteria rarely survive in beer. The brewing water, however, is subject to the German drinking water regulations (Trinkwasserverordnung) and is tested for bacterial (Escherichia coli, Salmonellen, Legionellen etc.) or chemical contaminants several times a year.
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