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Biofilm and Scale – Quality Brewing Needs Consistent Control

Using corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and descaling and suspending agents prevents build-up and leaves you with minimal maintenance and maximum efficiency.

By: Food & Beverage | July 26, 2021 | Reading time: 3 minutes

Water is a substantial component of both the product and production process in the brewing industry. Effective water treatment - aligned with efficient cleaning protocols - is integral to success. Proper hygiene is fundamental for the production of high-quality beer and to safeguard your brand reputation.

Consistency and quality are benchmarks that ensure the finished beer is free from contamination, whether microbiological or tainted by unwanted flavors. A well-designed and rigorously implemented hygiene program is the main driver toward achieving these benchmarks.

However, quality issues are not always obvious. Microbiological problems can be undetected for two to three weeks, depending on your fermentation process and the aging involved.

A Common yet Complex Problem

At each step of the brewing process, different soils form. Removing them requires specific chemistry, CIP programs, and cleaning frequency, with tailored cleaning procedures for each piece of equipment.

A common problem is a persistent build-up of organic and inorganic soils such as biofilm and scale-in equipment. These soils can form on the walls of tanks, kettles, lines, and valves, as well as any plant surface. They may be common, but each provides a unique challenge depending on the context in your brewery. For example, your brewery location may also mean that different water hardeners contribute to mineral scale build-up.

Tailored to Soils and Specific Equipment

Biofilms are cohesive groups of microorganisms. Cells stick to each other, often forming slimy layers on a variety of surfaces. They cause spoilage and harbor some of the leading food pathogen bacteria, such as Listeria, Salmonella, E. coli, and harmful yeasts. Whereas water hardness salts and other minerals can form insoluble sludge and scale, reducing your operational efficiency.

Biofilm and scale are not problems in isolation; they reflect across your whole approach to water and hygiene. Effective, verified, and validated cleaning is critical. All phases of the cleaning process need to be followed at the recommended frequency to protect the effectiveness of the sanitizer step and prevent biofilms from developing.

Regular sampling and checking for specific results help identify any infection. This complexity should be borne in mind when choosing a water treatment partner. Expertise and know-how on all aspects of production, alongside long-term experience of problems specific to each piece of equipment involved, are essential. 

Taking a Preventative Approach

A preventative approach is preferable as removing biofilm can be challenging. However, if a biofilm is found, it's imperative to take immediate action with both physical and chemical treatment.

The overall degree of difficulty in removing soils varies: depending on how long beer ages, whether hot or cold surface deposits are involved, and the different ingredients used. Changing ingredients means re-evaluating your cleaning program - increasing chemical concentration, or adding a longer contact time to eliminate soil contamination - then confirming the microbiology to ensure that you?re still cleaning effectively. 

Biocides are effective in controlling microbiological growth and biofouling to reduce the risk of contamination and spoilage. Hygiene and chemical expertise, hand-in-hand with water treatment solutions provide a comprehensive approach to address the full range of soils, reduce cleaning time, use less water, and optimize chemical use. For maximum efficiency, employing corrosion inhibitors, biocides, and descaling and suspending agents prevents build-up and leaves you with minimal maintenance.

Sharing Expertise and Knowledge

Comprehensive cleaning, service, and sanitation programs to control microbiological growth and biofouling set a baseline for managing the risk of contamination. In addition, applying water conditioning, descaling maintenance, and treatment technologies - with the appropriate expertise to inhibit scale deposition and build-up - helps ensure process safety and reduces your water and energy usage.

With long-term analysis and measurement delivering solutions specifically to control biofilm and scale build-up in your plant, you can be confident of maintaining a competitive edge to your costs and sustainability objectives while consistently producing the highest quality beer.

Food & Beverage

Diversey – A Solenis Company

A team of experts and a proven history of developing best practices. We understand what it takes to keep your facilities clean and your products safe. Through our extensive portfolio, our partners have access to chemicals, equipment, Knowledge-based Services (KBS) and training solutions all backed by decades of global experience.