What is qPCR, and why is it the best solution for your brewery?
Quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) is a molecular biology technique that allows breweries to rapidly detect extremely low levels of DNA from specific beer spoilers. By pairing extraordinary sensitivity with the quantitative properties of qPCR, the Midwest Microbio system offers detailed insight not only into what is in your beer or yeast pitch, but also the specific level of contamination—an essential tool for any modern brewery.
This technology has significant benefits, especially when compared to traditional media (plates) which until recently have been the industry standard for microbe detection. Traditional media can unfortunately take days (if not weeks) to show growth, creating circumstances under which it is impossible to detect the threat of common viable but nonculturable organisms (VBNC). Adapting a sensitive and rapid qPCR Midwest Microbio system saves significant time by immediately giving brewers product information and quantifying the microorganisms present in each sample.
Plus, a key feature of the Midwest Microbio system is validated beer-specific technology and workflows for processing samples with high levels of qPCR reaction inhibitors. The system is designed by brewers, for brewers, making it uniquely built from the ground up to handle all beer styles. While new styles such as heavily dry-hopped New England IPAs and fruited kettle sours contain challenging inhibitors that prevent a proper qPCR reaction from taking place on other systems, Midwest Microbio goes above and beyond to determine if a sample is inhibited through positive and negative controls. The company offers validated workflows to handle any novel or extreme beer style with no problem, and enable breweries to have full analysis of a product without limitations.
So, why is this system the best in the industry?
The Midwest Microbio system provides users with a “molecular toolbox” for the modern brewery. It is industry-leading in run time, sample prep, and provides users with more than 35 specific assays. Some of these assays range from the most frequently used Core Four, which is used to screen for general brewer’s yeast, highly and poorly diastatic yeast strains, general Brettanomyces, and Pediococcus and Lactobacillus across three genes responsible for hop resistance. Other assays offer the ability to differentiate between ale and lager strains or identify-specific wild yeasts and bacteria that may be present in house sour cultures or infected beers.
The Midwest Microbio system produces results from sample to end result in less than an hour and a half, while setting an exceptionally high standard of quality by detecting beer spoilers down to 1 cell/mL without enrichment. Breweries can take a yeast pitch that just hit the dock and will be pitched shortly, or a beer that is scheduled for same day packaging, and rapidly verify if it is clean or infected. By offering speed and sensitivity, the Midwest Microbio qPCR test eliminates production waits associated with enrichment or differential media that may or may not show results several days later.
You would never buy pre-made plates, so why buy pre-made qPCR kits?
Now more than ever, a greater focus on quality leads to a stronger craft beer industry for both producers and consumers. Previously, labs would have to spend tens of thousands just to purchase equipment, besides the draconian prices for continued testing on a subscription-based model.
Through an open source approach, the Midwest Microbio system enables brewers to drastically drop costs up to 90 percent compared to other systems, while significantly upgrading quality-assurance programs. Total cost to run the Core Four (screens for diastatic yeast, general Brettanomyces, and hop-resistant Lactobacillus and Pediococcus) is less than $4, including all consumables needed for the reaction. Our protocols and workflows enable QA leaders to manufacture the necessary master mix and bring everything in-house—similar to brewery labs manufacturing their differential media in-house for a significantly cheaper cost than purchasing pre-poured media plates. Users of this system are not penalized for screening their product at every step of the fermentation process and can prevent microbiologically related recalls. That, in turn, strengthen the overall brand.
The benefits of a molecular toolbox
Leaders in quality currently using the Midwest Microbio system are not only improving their QA programs, but they are also able to branch out testing, with 35 assays that look at all microorganisms in a sour program. A key benefit of qPCR is the ability to know what is in your beer and at exactly what quantity. We work with several clients who are consistently able to look barrel by barrel into the microflora present and the flavors that result from specific strains of wild yeasts, or blends of Lactobacillus and Pediococcus of different types. Another key benefit of these 35 assays, especially for larger breweries, is the ability to test for cross-contamination between house strains—such as an ale and a lager yeast—even if a beer does not have common beer spoilers.
Ready to become a leader in quality?
This system makes each company a leader in quality and strengthens overall QA programs implemented at breweries across the US. Users include rapidly expanding mid-sized breweries such as Masthead Brewing, Saucy Brew Works, and Streetside Brewery, up to much larger breweries such as Octopi Brewing and Fat Head’s Brewery. Even international clients such as Ontario’s Muskoka Brewery and yeast suppliers such as Escarpment Labs have adopted the Midwest Microbio technology. Most of these users migrated off of legacy PCR kits and never looked back, while some are adopting qPCR for the first time as they scale their growth with a strong dedication to quality.
Midwest Microbio aims to strengthen the craft beer community as a whole and make exploding cans and infected beers a thing of the past. If you are ready to upgrade your lab while dropping costs and increasing program quality, reach out for more information at [email protected], or check out midwestmicrobio.com, and make your brand a leader in quality today.