Here at Stony Creek we take quality very seriously, which is why we have had an onsite lab since we started making beer in February of 2015. Our third employee hired by the company was our Quality Control Technician Russ Meister. He has been working hard to keep our quality standards high from day one and is a crucial component of our operation.
Russ joins us with a Masters in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from UCONN. He studied the evolutionary dynamics and molecular systematics of two obligate endosymbiotic bacteria of cicadas. Prior to working on his masters, he had studied in several different biology and chemistry labs working on projects ranging from the organic synthesis of Crohne’s disease medications, to methods for determining tree hosts of a local species of Sirex wood wasp.
Russ is also an avid award winning homebrewer with more than 10 years’ experience prior to joining the Stony team. He has been a BJCP judge for three years.
As the Stony Creek QA lab leader, Russ ensure that our beer is made and handled in the cleanest and most consistent manor possible. The lab tracks and tests a variety of things throughout the brewery and packaging process. It tests for bacteria and wild yeast multiple times from the fermenters, bright tanks, and packaged beer with several different kinds of incubated media. It monitors for consistency in our IBUs and color for each brand and every batch. The lab determines/controls when beers are ready to move forward in the process (dry hop, full cool, centrifuge…). Our lab breeds up and maintains our multiple strains of yeast, as well as confirms pitching rates and other yeast health data.
Oxygen concentration is tracked throughout the process starting with wort oxygenation, and finishing with packaged beer O2 levels in cans and bottles. The latter being crucial to our cans and bottles of beer having the best shelf life possible. Finally, our lab confirms fill volumes and carbonation levels of our packages to ensure we meet legal specifications and customer standards. Every batch we package is run through our sensory panel of trained tasters in order to further confirm consistent flavor and appearance.
Russ is also responsible for calibrating equipment and maintaining data that ensures functionality of all equipment used in the cellar, brewhouse, and packaging areas. He measures and ensures accurate chemical dosing in our cleaning and sanitizing procedures as well as confirming proper CIP functionality by swabbing tanks and plating the swabs on two kinds of media to check for bacterial or wild yeast growth.
In addition to heading the lab Russ also helps the company by training and coordinating our cellarmen. He has helped co-create all SOPs that we use day to day in the lab and the cellar.
Our lab is one of our most important tools we have at our disposal, it is the first and last step in ensuring consistent, quality beer, each and every time.