From suppliers of brewers’ yeast to third party laboratory services for the wine and brewing industry, White Labs is well placed to give both a laboratory and a brewing perspective on anything that moves in the craft beer industry. With this in mind, we caught up with R&D manager Karen Fortmann to capture her experience with the FOSS BeerFoss™ FT Go analyzer at the end of a four week pop-up trial in the White Labs San Diego laboratory.
The BeerFoss FT Go instrument Karen put to the test is a compact unit about the size of a shoebox. Users simply place a sample and press start - no degassing or filtering required. With a time-to-result of only a few minutes there’s barely enough time to put the coffee on before the results for multiple parameters for wort, fermentation or beer pop-up on the touch-screen interface. These include direct alcohol measurement, density, pH and extracts.
Pricing, usability and speed
To get an idea of performance, Karen ran side-by-side tests with existing analytical equipment. In total, about 120 -140 samples were tested including samples from wort, fermentation and finished beer.
Although it was not an exhaustive scientific study, it did not take Karen long to come to a conclusion. “I like it. Obviously we have something already, but that said, if we were starting from scratch I think the BeerFoss Go is cheaper,” she says. “It’s nice that you don’t have to de-gas samples. Overall, I really like the lack of sample preparation and I think the time to result is actually faster too.”
A specific example of how the BeerFoss FT Go makes life simpler for testers is that there is no need to use a hand-held density meter. Karen explains how inexperienced users of a meter can run into problems due to the risk of getting air bubbles in the sample. In the same light, it’s great that there is no need for a pH meter. “You have to calibrate daily and you don’t have to do that with the BeerFoss FT Go,” she says. “From an ease of use standpoint, you could have a very well trained person run it or you could have someone who has never even seen a pH meter run the sample which I think is a huge benefit.”
Reliable solution built on decades of development
Created by analytical solution providers FOSS in Denmark, the concept behind the BeerFoss FT Go is to deliver the same reliability and robustness achieved for users of FOSS equipment in other industries such as dairy and wine. As the feedback from White Labs confirms that the new beer tester is on track to follow in the footsteps of many proven solutions.
The side-by-side test against existing established beer industry testing equipment showed that accuracy was very similar. There were no issues with the instrument during the trial. “It’s a very robust machine. We haven’t had one error message or such like which is really nice. From my experience it does seem like a very reliable piece of equipment,” says Karen.
Installation was an out-of-the-box operation done within a few hours by the laboratory without having to have an on-site visit. Most of this time was for the instrument to do an automatic calibration after it was switched on for the first time. It took about two hours and was then ready to go.
Easy analysis for better brewing
The conclusions from White Labs fit well with those from users in the brewing industry in Europe where the instrument was first launched in December 2020. The possibility to become better brewers through valuable insight-giving analysis is a common theme with users.
“Because of the ease of use of it, I think that it would fit very well in craft brewing,” Karen Fortmann confirms. “It’s a very user-friendly and accurate representation of what is going on in fermentation as well as final product. If we didn’t already have a solution, I would be totally sold on this machine.”