By Brandon Hernández
As we’ve touched on in the past, keeping track of raw material inventory is crucial to maximizing any manufacturing business’ efficiency and profit [see article Understanding Brewery Profitability].
When considering this, most brewers’ default to mental images of stacked boxes of hops in their cold box or an ever-changing, Tetris-stacked array of grain sacks over by their mill. Monitoring the intake and utilization of these everyday items is both important and straightforward, especially when you have a powerful tool at your disposal like Beer30. But we don’t stop there.
We have spent a great deal of time thinking about beer’s most vital and variable base ingredient: yeast. Beer30’s ability to not only assist brewers in tracking their yeast inventory, performance and viability, but do so in a customizable manner that suits their individual preferences and operations, really sets it apart. Here’s how…
Tracking the cost of goods on hand for finite, one-and-out resources like hops, malt and adjuncts is relatively simple. You purchase these goods then base adjustments on use until your inventory is depleted.
Things get more complicated when tracking the true cost of Yeast. How should you calculate the cost of a biological resource that can be used over multiple generations across multiple beers?
Do you write off the cost for a yeast lot on day one? Do you amortize and apply the total cost of a lot across all of the batches of beer it is applied to? Do you hold off until you reach the end of a yeast lot’s productive lifespan?
Well, in Beer30, you have the option to pick your own path and do any of the above!
It’s important to us that Beer30 be an effective asset for any type of brewing operation, from an all-draft nanobrewery to a link in a brewpub chain to a large production facility supporting distribution of packaged beers to multiple states. That means providing flexibility where it’s called for, and yeast tracking is most definitely one of those areas.
Rather than pigeonhole brewers into tracking yeast costs in a single, predetermined manner which may or may not work well for them, we have programmed in freedom. Beer30 supports multiple approaches to yeast cost tracking, realizing there are numerous right ways to solve a problem. It all comes down to what’s best for your company based on its size, operations, accounting systems and numerous other variables.
The Beer30 Yeast Dashboard shows the details of all yeast inventory that you have available to pitch, harvest, and propagate.
Keeping Tabs on an Unpredictable Staple
Even in a day and age where yeast labs use innovative technologies to help make their strains stronger and more reliable than ever before, yeast requires more oversight and special care than any other primary ingredient in beer. More so than any other ingredient in the brewing process, yeast can surprise you—for better or for worse.
A particular lot of yeast may lack the health necessary for it to adequately perform its duties while another lot may exhibit a type of superhuman vim and vigor that allow it to make up for the shortcomings of its less-energetic predecessor.
That’s why Beer30 helps brewers do more than just keep up with yeast inventory. It helps brewers and QA staff record the results of yeast analysis, including cell counts, viability, generation, and performance history. And more importantly, with Beer30’s custom fields module, a brewer or QA staff can add as many additional fields as they want to track!
As yeast is brought in or harvested from a tank in Beer30, brewers and quality staff will be able to add in custom fields and metrics like cell counts, generations, viability.
Using Beer30 to track yeast inventory by lot also becomes immensely handy in worst-case scenario situations. For instance, should your yeast provider issue a product recall, doing the back tracking of every batch potentially impacted is both quick and easy, allowing you to react instantly to nullify the threat and account for potential loss.
Planting and Nurturing Yeast’s Family Tree
Yeast is unlike any other primary beer ingredient in that each pitch equates to a new chapter in an often long and winding story in its history. A history that covers multiple beer styles and many months bringing each beer to life.
Beer30 takes this often complex story and turns it into a powerful tool for managing yeast. We use genealogy charts to build an easily absorbed visual representation as we automatically track the yeast through every batch of beer it touches. Then to make the tool even more powerful and easy to use, we make the entire history of your yeast inventory searchable and filterable - which really takes it to the next level.
Use Beer30 to generate yeast genealogy trees that are filterable and searchable by brand, batch, dates, and yeast strain.
The branches of these trees include the triumphant chapters in your yeast’s story, as well as those that are more of an adventure. For example, you can log stalled fermentations that required an additional pitch or any number of anomalies that may occur.
The Beer30 genealogy trees show you how each parent and child node are interconnected for true traceability.
Beer30 also keeps track of yeast’s origin story. Not all of the yeast a brewer uses comes from a company like White Labs, Lallemand, or Wyeast. As an extension of the communal, rising-tide nature of the craft-brewing industry, one brewery will often provide yeast to another. Beer30 allows you to note the source of intra-brewery pitches and track its performance at your facility.
We also understand that many brewers like to mix and match different strains of yeast in beers! In Beer30, while knocking out a beer, you can also do yeast substitutions and add in different yeast from different brinks or pitches. This flexibility also then shows up in the genealogy trees!
In Beer30, you can do yeast substitutions dynamically in either Brew or Ferment mode.
We Treat Yeast like the Vital Ingredient It Is
Yeast plays arguably the most important role in the production of beer or, more importantly, quality beer. As such, it must be regarded and monitored in a significant way. But all too often it isn’t. Its dynamic nature leads brewers and even data-management software developers to throw up their hands rather than attempt to track it in a meaningful and insightful way, creating a major blind spot that can ultimately hurt one’s operation.
At Beer30, we understand the challenges of tracking yeast costs and performance, and we’ve gone to lengths to help our clients overcome them, developing a dedicated, customizable module devoted to the heart and soul of beer and all fermented beverages.
Want to know more about how we can help you track and manage yeast inventory and utilization at your brewery? We’d love to discuss it with you. Check out our Contact Page and send us a note and we’ll get right back to you. And for more information on Beer30, visit our software page here.
Brandon Hernández is a contributing writer for The 5th Ingredient. He is an award-winning journalist and founder of San Diego Beer News LLC, an all-in-one online resource on San Diego's craft-beer scene. Over the past 14 years, his brewing-industry reporting has been featured in dozens of national and regional magazines, newspapers and websites, as well as on television, radio and podcasts. He spent nearly a decade providing marketing services as an employee for high-profile craft breweries Stone Brewing, AleSmith Brewing and Societe Brewing, has authored and co-authored multiple books, and continues to provide freelance marketing services to companies in and around the beer industry. He can be reached via email