Using Near-Infrared Technology To Evaluate Hops
Quality assurance comes in many forms at Crosby Hops. We test our hop products every step of their journey from field sampling and in-process production all the way to cold storage and product returns. One of the key areas of QA that affects every end hop user is creating a certificate of analysis for each lot we produce and sell.
A certificate of analysis provides brewers with four crucial data points they depend on to accurately create the beer they want. These data points are:
- Alpha Acids
- Beta Acids
- Total Oil
- Hop Storage Index
Previously, obtaining this information from our on-farm lab consisted of utilizing the ASBC method exclusively for evaluating hops. This method yields results with a high degree of accuracy but tacks on time, energy, and the consumption of nasty chemicals. We are equally committed to sustainability and innovation as we are to quality, so we wanted to find a better way to test our hops without sacrificing our core values.
Near-infrared (NIR) technology is a spectroscopic method that uses the near-infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum (from 780 nm to 2500 nm) providing rapid and accurate analysis that is well suited for food and agricultural products. This super-fast, chemical free testing method is a game changer for our quality and production teams.
We developed a testing method that allows us to maintain the integrity of our ASBC method-based certificates of analysis while utilizing the quick, chemical-free NIR spectrometer for in-process testing in the pellet plant. This adoption of NIR technology allows us to test every mixing tank blend of hops to establish alpha acid consistency across all lots. This also serves as a real-time sustainable quality control tool. Our production team can test a sample during processing and within minutes have accurate data to reference for adjustments up stream. By comparing all NIR results with lab testing, we continually update our NIR model to provide the most accurate results.
This tool is one of the many innovative ways we evaluate hop quality to ensure the best hops possible for brewers around the world. Check out our lot lookup tool for up-to-date analysis on the Crosby hops in your cooler.