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DEVELOPING GOOD PROCESSES Developing good processes is both preventative and reactive. Doing adequate research and being prepared will help prevent many problems before they occur. Knowing that enzymes are only active in a certain temperature range and implementing a mashing regime that reflects that knowledge will prevent problems such as poor yield, filtering or lautering issues, or fermentability issues. If there was an unexpected low yield during mashing and it was determined that the cause was a poor utilization of enzymes, then a new process would emerge to fix the problem. Once processes are developed they need to be well-written and easy to follow. Someone with little to no experience should be able to discern the written methodology. Lastly, a troubleshooting guide should be included. This will help ensure that any problems that occur are handled appropriately. Many problems pop up at a distillery and it is important that they are handled the same by all employees. Good processes are needed at multiple steps of the distilling process. This includes, but is not limited to, mashing, fermentation tracking, distillation, blending, barrelling, proofing, filtering, and bottling. The more consistently all processes are carried out, the more likely that finished product will also be consistent. If each step of a process is controlled, a controllable product is reachable.

GOOD PRODUCTION DOCUMENTATION Distilling is a blend of art and science, and data must be recorded and analyzed. Due to the heavy regulation necessary to operate a distillery, many documentation steps are already considered a necessity. Yields, waste, finished product, and more must all be well documented to be in compliance with federal regulations. However, the documentation should be broader and should help the small distillery with more than just staying within compliance. Following good processes eliminates some documentation, but there will always be the need to write things down. For example, the pH of mashing can be used as a simple tool to combat inconsistencies. Logging the pH data can show a number of different trends such as watershed issues or clogged filters. Having this data allows for the problem to be noticed and fixed. Anything that is abnormal should be documented and tracked throughout the many stages of the distillation process. For example, if a ferment is potentially infected (smells different, different yeast behavior), this should be noted and

tracked. Some infections will affect the flavor of the distillate and it should be isolated. Proper documentation can aid good processes in keeping that dissimilar distillate separate. Good documentation allows for potential defects to be more easily detected and traced. Good documentation can also be preventative. If a mistake has been made in the past, it is less likely to be repeated if there is irrefutable evidence. Do not rely on memory to serve correctly when it comes to isolated problems. The repetitive nature of distilling makes it difficult to recall problems with perfect clarity.

EXTENSIVE EMPLOYEE TRAINING PROGRAM Developing good processes and documenting production problems are definitely important, but they are not as important as having a well-trained employee. Another key element to quality management is an in-depth training program. Employees must be up-to-date in all current processes. They must know the importance of following processes correctly, documentation, and how to properly troubleshoot. Many small distilleries have equally small distilling teams. Sometimes, a team will include only one person, which makes a training program very simple. However, if that is not the case, then an extensive employee training program is a necessity to implement a quality management program. Most elements of a training program will be routine for every member of the distilling team, but training programs should meet individual needs. Training should emphasize that distilling is fast-paced and the correct decisions need to be made in order to solidify consistency. Small distilleries will not have a separate QA or QC department; both elements are absorbed by production. That’s why it is important for all personnel to be trained well and trained to the same degree. There are so many steps to be able to run a distillery floor that it is a necessity to allow adequate time before employees are fully trained. One of the most important elements of a training program and most time intensive is sensory analysis.





SENSORY ANALYSIS PROGRAM By its very nature, sensory analysis is centered on product and product development. A rigorous sensory analysis program is the key to QC. Initial training should focus on what smells or tastes normal and what does not. Determining the cause of the abnormality will come with time and experience. Sensory training on grain intake is based on solely smell. Does the grain smell


Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Spring 2017  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.