Working with the CBE at Montana State University, the study will further explain the science behind biofilm microorganisms that build up and can change the flavor of beer dispensed through draught beer lines

ANN ARBOR, Mich., BOZEMAN, Mont. and BOULDER, Colo. – NSF International’s Applied Research Center (ARC) and the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE) at Montana State University have been awarded a grant to study how draught beer flavors can be changed when metabolites build up in the beer dispensing lines creating biofilms. The grant was awarded by the Brewers Association in Boulder, Colo.

Biofilm growth in beer lines is a well-known issue in the brewing industry. When microorganisms take up residence inside of beer lines, metabolites are produced and the flavor profile of the dispensed beer is given a taste that was not intended by brewers. The study will create a standard model for biofilm formation in beer lines across a variety of beer styles and organism types. It will help further understanding of how biofilms form and their susceptibility to cleaning. Ultimately, the study plans to provide a reproducible standard test method to create biofilms in draught beer lines and a cleaning regimen to help maintain the integrity of beer lines and the intended beer flavor profile.

“NSF International’s Applied Research Center and the Center for Biofilm Engineering are excited to work with the Brewers Association to determine the science behind biofilms in draught beer lines,” said Dr. Jesse Miller, Director of the NSF International Applied Research Center. “NSF International’s Applied Research Center’s work aims to create a reproducible standard method for draught beer line testing that allows purveyors of draught beer to optimize their cleaning procedures and ensure the highest quality product is being delivered to customers.”

The study will be divided into two phases. During the first phase, which will begin at the Center for Biofilm Engineering in Bozeman, Mont., a laboratory model with a representative draught beer line and protocol for growing biofilms in draught beer lines will be designed and tested. The model will incorporate key operational parameters that mimic the typical conditions found in beer dispense lines to evaluate cleaning procedures. The Brewers Association will be consulted during this process to help identify key design parameters that must be incorporated, including identifying ingredients in various craft beer styles that contribute to biofilm formation.

During the second phase of the study at NSF International’s Applied Research Center in Ann Arbor, Mich., the biofilm-generating procedure will be used to assess the industry’s standard cleaning procedures as specified in the Draught Beer Quality Manual. The assessment will determine the reduction of bacteria. Cleaning regimens will be conducted for a variety of beer styles and biofilm types to ensure the procedure is robust and protects the beer against any changes to its original taste profile.

“By combining the method development expertise of the CBE with the unique, rapid testing ability of NSF International’s Applied Research Center, we are confident that a reliable, reproducible method will be produced to assist the brewing industry with an effective draught beer line standard cleaning method,” said Darla Goeres, Associate Research Professor at Montana State University’s Center for Biofilm Engineering.

The $120,000 grant is for the development and execution of the project through 2016 with the potential for project expansion into future years.

Editor’s Note: For media interested in more information or to schedule an interview, please contact Liz Nowland-Margolis at media@nsf.org or +1 734-418-6626.

About NSF International: NSF International is a global independent organization that writes standards, and tests and certifies products for the water, food, health sciences and consumer goods industries to minimize adverse health effects and protect the environment (nsf.org). Founded in 1944, NSF is committed to protecting human health and safety worldwide. Operating in more than 165 countries, NSF International is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Center on Food Safety, Water Quality and Indoor Environment. NSF International’s Applied Research Center provides custom research and development services for all major industries including contract method development; testing and consulting services in chemistry, microbiology, genomics and toxicology; product claim verification; lab quality/management; methods training; and human health risk assessment.

About the Center for Biofilm Engineering: At the Center for Biofilm Engineering (CBE), multidisciplinary research teams develop beneficial uses for microbial biofilms and find solutions to industrially relevant biofilm problems. The CBE was established at Montana State University, Bozeman, in 1990 as a National Science Foundation Engineering Research Center. As part of the MSU College of Engineering, the CBE gives students a chance to get a head start on their careers by working on research teams led by world-recognized leaders in the biofilm field.

About the Brewers Association: The Brewers Association is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit trade association. The association is an organization of brewers, for brewers and by brewers. More than 3,100 U.S. brewery members and 46,000 members of the American Homebrewers Association are joined by members of the allied trade, beer wholesalers, retailers, individuals, other associate members and the Brewers Association staff to make up the Brewers Association.