Interview with Collette Arnheim from Stomping Ground Brewing Co.

We talked to Collette Arnheim from Stomping Ground Brewery Collingwood about the role technology, and Oculyze, in particular, has played, as part of their quality program, in helping them create their multi-award-winning beers.

Oculyze: Can you tell us a few things about yourself and your role at Stomping Ground Brewing Co.?
Collette Arnheim: My name is Collette and I am the beer quality lab technician at Stomping Ground Brewery in Collingwood Australia. I’ve been working here for around a year, and I have a background in human nutrition and food science.
I’ve always loved beer, so after finishing my graduate diploma in food science I pursued a career in the beer industry and that is where I am today.

Oculyze: Would you say that these challenging two past years have driven brewers to rely more on technology?
Collette Arnheim: I definitely think technology has played a big part in brewing throughout the pandemic. It allowed us to move our ferment data to an online platform exclusively, where we were using paper before, it gave us time to sit down and work out how we can move forward as a brewery to increase our sustainability efforts through the use of more technology and with less wastage. We were also able to manage our production online and this was done through platforms like Zoom, which allowed us all to keep safe during the pandemic.

Oculyze: What is the single most important factor that differentiates those breweries at the top from those still struggling to make it?
Collette Arnheim: For us, we have won two awards for best large independent brewery in Australia from 2021 to 2022, and I think the main difference between us and a smaller brewery that may be struggling is that we have the capacity to do everything on site. We brew, we ferment we do all the lab testing and we do all the packaging and canning on site.
Smaller breweries may not have the capacity to do this and they do rely on other companies and other people to finish off their beers. You know, maybe they only sell them over the bar so that really inhibits consumers, I guess, from being able to take them home and consume them in the comfort of their own home. Which, I think, was especially important during the pandemic, as we couldn’t go to bars and be in breweries.
So I think that’s probably the single most important factor or the difference.

Oculyze: Brewers swear by their “sixth sense” when it comes to brewing perfection. Do you think that technology and “the human touch” can find a way to coexist?
Collette Arnheim: I think so. I think if we’re wanting to create a quality product that consumers can really rely on each and every time that technology really has to play a part in the brewing process. Here at Stomping Ground we have a really sound quality program and it includes quality control through the use of technology, but it also includes a sensory program. So that does really prove that human touch and technology can coexist at the same time. I think without both we wouldn’t be producing a quality beer and we wouldn’t be the recipient of multiple awards.

Oculyze: What have been the most noticeable positive impacts of using Oculyze BB in your brewery?
Collette Arnheim: I think for us it is really quick and easy, compared to traditional gram staining methods, and it ensures that our cell counts are at the correct concentration before being pitched, so that we do produce a quality beer. This has also been instrumental in creating the beer that Stomping Ground is known for. It also saves us hundreds of dollars when we are quickly able to grab a sample from the ferment tank and check the batch so that we can re-pitch into a new batch, rather than fresh pitching each time. It has also allowed us to move from dry yeast to liquid yeast, as we are able to check our propagations and the cell counts before we pitch into a fresh batch.

Oculyze: You have been using Oculyze BB for yeast monitoring for a long time now. What drove you to continue using it?
Collette Arnheim: I think it’s just so easy. It takes us less than 20 minutes to harvest some yeast off a tank and to test it to see if we can re-pitch or not. If not, we can easily propagate a new batch or use dry yeast. You know, there’s no fiddling around with counting plates or messy gram staining and it is at a fraction of the cost of a proper microscope that you would need to do traditional methods.
We have multiple venues and the Oculyze microscope is so little that it’s quick and easy to pop over to the other venue if I need to test some yeast over there for re-pitching.  It makes decision making and planning a lot easier as we are able to quickly test and then make decisions based off that.

Many thanks, Collette Arnheim and Stomping Ground Brewing Co.!

Passionate about the beer and/or wine making process? So are we! If you’re interested in finding out how you can use our technology to control fermentation and monitor your yeast, save work hours and improve the cost-efficiency of your business, drop us a line at sales@oculyze.net or check out our product pages:

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