We have a lot of rad team members at Coronado Brewing, and every now and then it’s fun to profile the people behind the beer. This week, we’re diving into the world of Quality Control, with our very own Deanna Boyce.
What’s your title and what do you do at Coronado Brewing Company?
My title is Quality Control Manager, and I am in charge of running the laboratory for Coronado Brewing Company.
How did you get into lab work/quality control for the brewing industry?
To begin with, I earned a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder. When I graduated, I took a bit of time to decide where I wanted my future to go. I wanted to work with a company whose product I was passionate about, rather than taking the first opportunity I could get (side note: I graduated in the heart of the recession and there were not many opportunities). With that thought in mind, I narrowed down my interests to two fields: Fireworks and Beer. Haha—you can see which path I went down! After getting my degree, I moved to California and began my new journey with the UCSD Extension–Brewing Certification Program. This program was excellent for me to network with locals who were interested in beer or who were already working in the brewing industry. I worked for Karl Strauss Brewing Company for approximately 3 years in a variety of roles before getting my position at Coronado Brewing Company. It’s been a fun winding journey, but I’m so happy about where I have ended up.
What’s something surprising that people might not know or expect about your job or what QC entails?
Whenever I tell people that I work in Quality Control, they immediately joke that my job must mean I drink all day. That’s only partly true–there is way more to my job than sipping on a beer all day. There are three parts to QC at a brewery: analytical testing, microbiological, and sensory. Most of my day is spent testing analytics and making sure our beers match our specs. For example, this means that alcohol matches what we say on the bottle, the carbonation is perfect, or that our Mermaid Red is the brilliant red that our customers expect. Microbiology includes anything and everything to do with yeast, bacteria, and enzymes for our brewing. We want to keep our brewing yeast from mixing with the wild yeast, and our sours the only thing that is souring at the brewery. Sensory is the part where you might do a taste test to see if a person can taste the difference in an ingredient change. Sensory is the glamorous part of the job, but it’s only one side of the QC triangle.
Why is QC so important?
Every brewery is capable of making an excellent beer with the right people and ingredients; however, not every brewery is able to replicate that beer over and over again. The true sign of a great brewery is that they can make a wonderful beer consistently not only from day to day, but from year to year. We use QC to accomplish this feat. What people don’t realize about brewing is that we are an agriculturally based product. The seasons and climate greatly affect our ingredients which can cause fluctuations in the beer. Just imagine what a late rain in the harvesting season does to the grains we use. In this example, it would cause the grains to start to germinate. This process converts the coveted starches we want in brewing to an unusable form. Therefore, each grain provides less brewing material than it did in seasons past. If we used the same amount of grain as last year, we would get less alcohol at the end of brewing. QC is so important because we can test and adjust our recipes to ensure the same great beer is created. It not only looks at things before the brewing process even starts but can also catch mistakes in-process such as a low carbonation. QC ensures that the customer gets a great beer very time.
What’s your favorite CBC beer?
I’m currently in love with Never Better DIPA. Before it came out, I wouldn’t say I was a double IPA fan, because many on the market were too harsh in either their alcohol content or hops. However, this one is different. I love the flavor, aroma, and mouthfeel of this beer. It’s so easy drinking. I have gifted this beer to many a hop fan, and every single one has enjoyed it.