Nikolaj and Rasmus both have a background in the brewing industry. Nikolaj studied brewing science to become Master Brewer at Copenhagen University of Copenhagen before joining Copenhagen’s famous brewpub, Warpigs, as a brewer and Rasmus worked at Carlsberg along with his studies at the Technical University of Denmark – and on the side brewing excellent beer in his downstairs basement.
Craft breweries often promote themselves as a better-tasting and better-quality alternative than macro breweries, but are taste and quality something that can be measured?
“Taste and quality are very subjective things,” Nikolaj and Rasmus agree. “Consistency on the other hand is something that can easily be measured and producing consistent beer goes hand-in-hand with making quality beer,” Rasmus adds and explains that this is what macro breweries are really good at doing. “Craft breweries are really good at challenging existing brewing methods and analyzing their beer throughout the brewing process helps with making consistent beer,” he says. “When you have created a really good beer, you need to know exactly how it has been done, so that you can replicate it and make the same beer over and over again.”
When did you first realize the importance of data in the brewing process?
“When you study brewing science, you quickly realize that you need good data to be able to do the same beer twice. And when data is available, you just want to know more and more,” Rasmus says. “The first time I wanted to redo a nice tasting experimental beer, we thought we did the same exact thing, adding the same ingredients, etc. But the outcome was completely different, and data would have helped us localize when in the process, the beer had gone wrong,” Nikolaj adds.
Where in the brewing process to analyze your beer?
“Everywhere in the brewing process! and where you wanna know more or you don’t feel in control,” Nikolaj says.
“You don’t get anywhere with your stomach feeling. You always need data to find out where things went right or wrong,” Rasmus adds.
When does it get really interesting?
“Troubleshooting,” both agree. “The fermentation process is a living process that can be affected by so many different external factors depending on the yeast, temperature, water, etc. When you start linking between data and what happens in the actual brewing process, you can start replicating the exact process and then look at trends to optimize an already excellent beer, this is when it becomes really interesting,” Nikolaj and Rasmus agree.
Do you have any good advice for breweries, that are interested in making more analysis in-house?
“Define your way of doing things and create a system that is manageable,” Rasmus says. “Instead of measuring the beer here and there, create a system for when in the process to measure your beer and repeat it every time you make this beer. When you have created a functional system of when to measure your beer, you can start adding new measuring points into your system,” Rasmus adds and concludes. "The more consistent data you get about your brew, the more you learn about your beer and gradually fermentation will become an open book".