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Old 04-16-2013, 08:47 PM   #1
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Default Cutsom lab work for brewers

If a smaller lab was willing to open its doors to homebrewers, what type of tests would you like to see available?

SRM
IBU
Diacytal
water profiles
ABV
???

I was talking with a lab tech about this and we were wondering what some of the popular tests would be for beers if hobby brewers really want to see the accuracy of their recipes and procedures.

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Old 04-16-2013, 11:48 PM   #2
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Not just diacetyl- you'll want the whole spectrum of off flavors (chlorphenol, ester, phenol, fusel, DMS, sulfur etc etc etc). Someone mentioned infection identification but that would be difficult to do. Quick PCR tests for common contaminants like lacto, pedio, brett, etc etc would be more doable, but lots of wild yeasts would be tough. Customers would probably have to purchase individual tests, or you could run a battery but it would be more expensive.

Hop growers might want hop analysis. %AA and %BA for a start, but maybe also oil content, humulone/cohumulone/adhumulone and myrcene content as well.

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Old 04-17-2013, 03:11 AM   #3
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I agree with what daksin said.

SRM and ABV are pretty easy to figure out on your own.

I think yeast purity, water profiles, and home growers hop AA would be big along with the off flavor producing elements.
Water profiles are easy for most to get locally, so the price would have to be very competitive.

I've seen kits that have a small tasting sample of diacety, chlorphenol, ester, phenol, fusel and dms in order to know exactly what that flavor is and tastes like.

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Old 04-25-2013, 01:26 AM   #4
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How about microbiological testing? There are selective growth media for the identification of Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, and other beer spoilage organisms as well as wild yeast present in yeast cultures or finished beer.

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Old 04-25-2013, 11:14 PM   #5
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I can understand the use of lab analysis for quality control in a commercial brewery, but I just don't see any reason for a homebrewer to need these. At the homebrew scale, and even as the principal method on the commercial scale, the best test is observing and tasting the beer throughout the process. Those are the skills you need to develop and sending samples to a lab isn't going to help you.

Inexpensive hop analysis is a good idea that I think is already being offered.

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Old 04-26-2013, 04:21 AM   #6
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If it's interesting and cheap, why not? If you're constantly plagued by an off flavor and can't pin it down, it'd be helpful to know. Also, it's interesting to know how your IBU calculations line up with the actual IBUs in the beer.

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Old 04-26-2013, 04:36 AM   #7
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Water profiles.
IBU of finished beer.
Homegrown hop analysis.

I would definitely be interested in water sample testing. My county doesn't test salt levels, I have to assume that the next county over is identical. If the price is right, I'd send my supposed 120 IBU DIPA over to see how far below 100 it really is.

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Old 04-27-2013, 01:05 AM   #8
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Find a place that does liquid chromatography - mass spec...this would give you all the chemical info like IBUs, ABV, diacetyl, phenols, etc. if some reads it for you. I don't know how expensive this would be, or who does it, but I'd shoot for a nearby research college. One shouldn't be too far living in CA.

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Old 04-27-2013, 09:52 PM   #9
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Old 04-29-2013, 04:15 PM   #10
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As a few others have eluded to, the real issue is cost. While it would be cool to see an analysis of our beers, it is not necessary for the home brewer. Unlike the big breweries, we are not trying to pump out tank after tank of identical beers. However, if the cost were low enough, then there would be interest. I don't know what that cost cutoff would need to be, but when you can make a 5 gallon batch for less than $30, you have to take that into account when deciding how much a home brewer wants to spend to see if his/her ABV or IBU calculations are accurate.

Hop AA% would be really interesting, but again, most of us are growing less than a dozen plants. If you have 3 different varieties, you need 3 separate tests. AND, theoretically you need to do this every year.

Update the forum if the lab is interested. This is a great place to get feedback. They could offer a basic test for a couple of bucks and then have extra tests if there is something specific that a brewer wants to test. Same with hop analysis.

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