There are currently over 3,400 total craft breweries here in the United States. As of December 31, 2014, the Brewers Association states that there are an additional 2051 breweries in planning. Breweries are opening at a rate of one new opening every 16 hours. These are some astonishing numbers that may not be all that great for this rapidly growing industry.
The one element of these openings and that of operating breweries that is routinely overlooked is the quality assurance and quality control aspects of brewing. Just because one is producing craft beer doesn’t necessarily mean that its of high quality and consistency. Even some of the most award winning craft brewers will still suffer from releasing beers with off flavors such as diacetyl or Dimethyl Sulfide (DMS) in its beer. Building and operating a QA/QC Lab is a costly expense that doesn’t always fit within an owners business plan.
This is where the recently established BrewLab can fit into the picture. Sensing this need for QA/QC in the brewing industry Dana Garves founded BrewLab. With a background in chemistry and a professional craft brewing history of building the QA/QC Lab at one of the nations fastest growing breweries, Ninkasi Brewing, Garves began operations at BrewLab in Eugene, OR this past October.
BrewLab is a laboratory that supplies an affordable, fast and local lab service to all of the fermentation industry. The testing done at BrewLab includes ABV, IBU, Color and pH. To get even more in depth, BrewLab will conduct a Brewer’s Statistics that deliver the density, real extract, apparent extract, Plato, ADF, RDF, and caloric content.
This is some analysis that all breweries not matter what size should be considering. Best of all, BrewLab will conduct this for both professional industry and homebrewers all at a reasonable price.
We recently conducted an interview with BrewLab founder Dana Garves about here background, what BrewLab can offer and what her goals for her startup business are.
How did you decide to open BrewLab?
While working at Ninkasi’s laboratory I would constantly be approached by homebrewers and small breweries for analyzing their beers. My moment of clarity was when someone brought me a growler from the Midwest saying something along the lines of “Can you get ABV on this? It’s my mother’s cousin’s boyfriend’s homebrew.” Brewers of all sizes would go through extreme favors and pull strings just to get analysis. That’s absurd. We have the technology to do this and do it for a reasonable price. Other US facilities that offer the same testing do so for $175/test, require two 22oz bottles (to be shipped – $$), and you don’t get results back until 5-7 business days later SNAIL MAILED. BrewLab is badly needed in this community. Its $20 or less per test, 4oz samples, and digital results are completed within 48 hours.
What is your educational background?
I received my degree in Chemistry from the University of Oregon with an emphasis on environmental chemistry.
How did this lead you into craft brewing?
After college I got a gig at a small water testing facility, and then like most of us, I sort of fell into the brewing industry. Ninkasi was looking for a local chemist and I was the gal. I built Ninkasi’s laboratory (once in 2011 and once in 2014) and created their now booming sensory program. (And sent their yeast into space!)
Prior to launching BrewLab, what was your occupation?
I was the Laboratory Technician at Ninkasi Brewing Company for 4 amazing years.
How long has BrewLab been in business?
I took the leap into my own business in October 2014.
What are your goals for BrewLab?
Right now I just want homebrewers and industry brewers to know that affordable quality control is available and easy. So many brewers say, “My brewery doesn’t need it.” Or “I’m too small for QA/QC.” That’s just not true. If your brews are being sold you need to (at the very very least) have accurate ABV testing. People are drinking your beer and TRUSTING your label. Be true to your customers, keep them safe, and get analysis. Not to mention TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) requires that all ABV labels are accurate to 0.3% (breweries can accrue heavy fines otherwise). BrewLab analysis offers accuracy up to 0.02%. BrewLab is scheduled to be TTB certified in July 2015.
BrewLab currently offers ABV, IBU, Color, Tristimulus, pH, Real Extract, Apparent Extract, RDF (real degree of fermentation), ADF (apparent degree of fermentation), density, Plato, and Calories/12oz. Furthermore, I offer 4 fun beer sensory classes.
In the future I hope to offer microbial testing, yeast library management, CO2, dissolved oxygen, and total packaged oxygen.
And in my wildest dreams I hope to have a booth at large conferences (CBC, GABF, WBC, MBAA, etc) where brewers can bring me their brew and I would test it in front of them, 15mins or less. But I’m a ways off from that!
What is the longest distance of a brewery from Eugene that BrewLab has conducted an analysis for?
Indiana! (Though after CBC I’m expecting samples from different countries: Norway, New Zealand, and Australia!)
Besides the brewing industry what other industries are you conducting analysis for?
All things fermented including wine, cider, and mead. Also BrewLab just had its first sample submission from a small kombucha company in Bend, OR.
How can a craft brewery reach out to you to get a beer analyzed?
Ordering analysis is really simple. Visit oregonbrewlab.com. You can pick up sample cups ($0.99/ea) OR simply send 4oz to 1854 Kent Lane Eugene Oregon 97404. BrewLab prides itself on being extremely flexible and accommodating to anyone who cares about quality control – so you can talk to the chemist directly by emailing questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We appreciate the time and assistance that Garves has provided. Her expertise is sure to help out both the new and the established brewery produce a more consistent and flavorful product. BrewLab will definitely increase QA/QC awareness to more home and professional brewers!
Please check out the BrewLab website or friend them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter.