Sunday 29 September 2019

Brewery Health and Safety

SIBA may be tossers but at times they do something useful. I was pleased to see they had a talk on Health and Safety at their AGM back in March.

You can make a judgement on how serious Health and Safety is treated by small brewers by the fact the speaker was able to go round and introduce himself personally to everyone attending the talk.

If a company has more than five employees it must be able to provide evidence that Health and Safety arrangements have been considered. This needs to be in the form of documented risk assessments.
Information on accidents that have happened in breweries can be found on the HSE website as well as some guidance.

The biggest cause of deaths in breweries is fork lift truck accidents. This one strikes a little close to home as some of the people I work with say someone was crushed to death by a reversing fork lift when they were working at King and Barnes brewery. The other major accident they talk about was someone getting his arm mangled in a Steel's masher.


The seven most common causes of accidents:

Manual handling and lifting
Slips, trips and falls,
Being struck by something or falling objects
Falls from heights
Machinery related accidents
Exposure to harmful substances
Transportation related accidents

For companies of five to 50 people there should be a first aider at all times, and there must be a fire risk assessment, fire marshal and fire drills.

Confined spaces can also be a problem at breweries and it's not just CO2 filled vessels you need to worry about, mash tuns can also be a problem. SIBA have some information on their website, though it doesn't seem to be working at the moment, as do the Brewers' Association. 

We were also given some useful handouts:

10 things I must do to keep me, my business and my colleagues healthy, safe and legal

  1. Decide what could cause harm to people in your business and how to take precautions. This will help you identify the necessary risk assessment. 
  2. Decide how you are going to manage health and safety in your business. If you have five or more employees you need to have documented risk assessments. 
  3. If you employ anyone you need Employer Liability Compulsory Insurance and you must display the certificate in your workplace.
  4. You must provide free health and safety training for your workers so they know what hazards and risks they may face and how to deal with them.
  5. You must have competent advice to help you meet your health and safety duties. This can be workers from your business, external consultants/advisers or a combination of these. 
  6. You need to provide toilets, washing facilities and drinking water for all your employees, including those with disabilities. These are basic health and safety and welfare needs. 
  7. You must consult employees on health and safety matters.
  8. If you have employees you must display the health and safety law poster or provide workers with a leaflet with the same information. 
  9. If you are an employer, self-employed, or in control of work premises, by law you must report work related accidents, diseases and dangerous occurrences.
  10. If you are a new business you will need to register with either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) or your local authority. 
We were also given information on carrying out risk assessments and some examples but I can't be aresed to type that out. The HSE has guidelines on carrying out a risk assessment here

Thursday 19 September 2019

A brief interlude at Krones

After the hospitality of Schneider Weisse we were on to the bottling line manufacturer Krones. Fascinating though bottling lines are I'm afraid my research at our previous stop into how much beer I could pour down my neck did not leave me in the best state to be paying attention during a lecture. It did however leave me in an excellent state for having an afternoon nap. So I let my heavy eyelids fall and achieved a lifetime ambition of of falling asleep during a lecture, something I never managed at school or university.

Sadly, I was dobbed in on the group whatsapp and soon woken by one of the trip organisers kicking my shin. Oh well, it did me a power of good and I woke refreshed and ready for the tour of the plant. I must confess my notes are a little lacking though so you'll have to make do with some pictures of shiny things.

Sunday 15 September 2019

A visit to Schneider Weisse brewery

Now where was I? Oh yes, Germany. Schneider Weisse brewery, that was one I was looking forward to. It was founded in Munich in 1872 and bought the state monopoly for making wheat beer from Bavarian dukes. In 1928 they bought a second brewery (that had been founded in 1607) in Kelheim and a third brewery in Straubing. The Munich brewery was bombed during the second global imperialist mass slaughter and is now a restaurant. Brewing continues at Kelheim.

Production grew in the 70s and 80s and they now make around 250k hl (150k bbl) of wheat beer a year.

Old wort cooler
 The Hauptman brewhouse dates from 1989 making 320hl at a time by decoction mashing (i.e. pumping out a portion of the mash and boiling it). They mash in at 35°C, a ferulic acid and protein rest, and have further rests at 48° and 52°C with the decoction at 62°C. The lauter tun is large due to the amount of wheat used (which due to its lack of husk compacts easily and forms a poor filer bed). The depth in the lauter tun is only 50 cm.

The grist is 60% wheat malt and 40% barley malt. Colour for the Original is 16 EBC. Malt and hops are sourced locally but as no strains of wheat have been bred for brewing they have to try and get the best they can. Ideally 12% protein but recently they have had to use 13.5-14%. A small amount of black malt (0.5%) is used for colour.

They use city water (which has 20 German degrees of hardness). Ultra filtration and reverse osmosis are used to purify and de-mineralise it and calcium chloride is added to the brewing liquor. A Lactobacillus fermentation (at 28°C) allows them to add acid whilst still sticking to the letter of the reinheitsgebot. Mash pH is 5.4 to 5.5 and lactic addition drops the pH in the copper to 5.2 to 5.3 which drops to 5.1 to 5.2 by the end of the boil.

They have open fermenters and as you might expect from a wheat beer brewery the fermentation room smelt of bananas!

The Original has 14 IBUs of bitterness. The bittering hop is Herkules, with Hallertau tradition added 10-15 minutes from the end of the boil. Saphir is used as a dry hop in the hopfenweis at 1.2kg/hl. Hallertau Cascade is used in Kristal and Tap 1 (pale weiss). One brew goes in each fermenting vessel and they brew six times a day.

Fermentation takes five to seven days (at 17°-22°C), except for the alcohol free beer which has three to four days. A 10°P Speis (food) is brewed once a week for use as priming in the bottle conditioned beers.

Lid with spray ball for Cleaning In Place
The yeast is only usually used once, which might explain why there were happy for us to wander around the fermenting room! The weizenbock (18.5°P) however uses second generation yeast.

Bottle conditioning is carried out for a minimum of two weeks at 15°C. The final gravity is 2°P. The beer is centrifuged on its way to the Conditioning Tank (10% bypassed) and speis (10%) is added on the way.

They were kind enough to make a diagram in English explaining how the bottling line works. As they have reusable bottles there's a lot going on!

The it was a stop for some lunch...

...followed by the tasting. I wasn't really looking forward to this bit, expecting to be served thimblefuls of various beers whilst someone lectured us on the likes of 4-vinyl guaiacol and isoamyl acetate. Instead we were taken to a cellar in which various crates of beer were laid out and basically told "fill your boots". So we did. Superb!