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Development and demonstration of polymerase chain reaction
based methods for process control in breweries

Contract number : QLK1-2000-01251
Contract type : Combined Project
Total cost : € 2.999.771
EC contribution : € 1.728.286
Starting date : 01/02/2000
Duration : 36 Months
Scientific Officer : Alkmini Katsada
Project website : not yet available
Dr Auli Haikara
Technical Research Centre of Finland
VTT Biotechnology and Food Research
Tietotie 2
02044 Espoo
Tel.: +358-9 4565130
Fax: +358-9 4552103
E-mail: auli.haikara @

The quality control methods employed by breweries are too time-consuming and unspecific to allow the brewer to ensure the microbiological quality and safety of beer. The present proposal is a combined R & D- Demonstration project which aims at providing rapid, specific and thoroughly tested PCR methods for the microbiologicaI monitoring of brewing processes. The aim of the r & d phase is to establish PCR methods which posses a level of sensitivity, simplicity and specificity to warrant their introduction to routine quality control. The PCR technology is expected to allow rapid detection and traceability of contaminants and determination of their harmfulness. The Demonstration phase aims at proving the technical and practical viability of the new methodology on a realistic scale in order to enable successful transfer of the PCR technology from the research phase to appliance. Effective dissemination of the project outcomes using existing organisational framework of the European breweries will facilitate the adoption and acceptance of the new technology.


The over-all objective of this combined r & d and Demonstration project is to improve the microbiological quality and safety of European beer through implementation of PCR technology in brewery QC. The specific r & d aims are: 1) to establish robust PCR based assays for spoilage microorganisms in bright beer; 2) to develop novel PCR based methods for the detection of spoilage microorganisms in brewing process; and 3) to improve and facilitate the analysis of brewery contaminant specific PCR amplicons. The specific demonstration objectives are: 1) to demonstrate the applicability of the PCR technology to QC environment; 2) to evaluate the viability of the developed PCR applications for the microbiological monitoring of brewery samples; 3) to demonstrate benefits of the PCR technology in brewery QC; and 4) to create an early awareness of the possibilities of PCR in routine food control.

(expected) Results and achievements
  • Robust PCR based methods for spoilage organisms in brewery process samples and final beer,
  • Applicability of the PCR technology to routine food control,
  • Technical performance and practicability of the new PCR methods,
  • Real benefits of PCR in brewery QC in comparison to established methods,
  • Standard PCR protocols for brewery samples in reference manuals,
  • Exploitation of developed PCR kit prototypes,
  • Transfer of the PCR technology to brewing industry.

The PCR protocols and kit prototypes resulting from the project can be used for

  • rapid microbiological quality control of brewery samples,
  • identification of the most common beer spoilage organisms,
  • tracing the origin of the contaminating species in the production line.

It is expected that the developed methods can be also applied for the detection of the same microorganisms in other beverages.

The knowledge and experience gained in this project can be used as a basis for further application of PCR technology in other fields of food production.


Brewing Research International Process r & d
Lyttel Hall
RH1 4HY Nutfield, Redhill
United Kingdom
Lehrstuhl für Technologie der Brauerei
TU München-Weihenstephan
Alte Akademie 3
85350 Freising
Dr Vogeser D-Tect
Alte Akademie 3
85350 Freising
Scottish Courage Brewing Ltd.
Technical Centre
160 Canongate
EH8 8DD Edinburgh
United Kingdom
Pripps Ringnes AB
Thu. Meyersgt 2
PO Box 7152 M
0307 Oslo
Brauerei Veltins
An der Streue
59872 Meschede-Grevenstein
Brauerei Beck & Co
Am Deich 18/19
PO Box 107307
28199 Bremen
Sternquell-Brauerei GmbH Plauen
Dobenaustraße 83
PO Box 100286
08523 Plauen
Oxford Brookes University
Biological & Molecular Sciences
Gipsy Lane
O3 0BP Oxford
United Kingdom

Fifth Framework Programme

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