A novel air ingress test method

Technical Session 15: Cleaning & Packaging Session
Eric J Samp, MillerCoors, Golden CO USA
Co-author(s): Eric Maskwa, MillerCoors, Milwaukee, WI, USA; Chaz Benedict, Hach Company, Loveland, CO, USA; Kendal Nichols, MillerCoors, Eden, NC, USA

ABSTRACT: Protecting beer from the deleterious effects of oxygen is critical for ensuring flavor stability in packaged beer, thus brewers strive to not only control oxygen pickup during beer processing but also oxygen entrained during packaging operations. However, for non-hermetically sealed containers such as bottles, it is known that oxygen will ingress into the headspace over time. Knowledge of how much oxygen permeates across the closure could provide brewers with the ability to detect problems with crowner operations or identify other issues associated with closure applications, yet today methods are scarce or limited for breweries to utilize. Laboratory based methods do exist but are limited in that evaluations cannot be done on production scale samples; therefore, brewers cannot troubleshoot issues on their own crowners/cappers or evaluate alternatives to cap/crown modifications with their own fillers under normal operating conditions. We have developed a novel technique that can be employed on fillers under normal operating conditions. The test method can be carried out with any package oxygen analyzer and provides relative results to the amount of oxygen that permeates into the container. This paper will discuss the method and review some case studies illustrating the impact of process changes on air ingress results. The case studies will include 1) evaluation of oxygen scavenging liners, 2) optimization of top-load force on a closure system, and 3) evaluation of variation between closure elements on a bottle filler. The results from these studies agree with the anticipated outcomes, thus proving the method produces results that are meaningful for breweries.

Eric Samp is a quality engineer/senior statistician for MillerCoors working in the Corporate Quality Organization. He holds a Ph.D. degree in applied statistics from the University of Northern Colorado and an M.S. degree in brewing and distilling from Heriot Watt University. Eric is a CQE and CQM from the American Society for Quality and a diploma brewer from the IBD. He is also a certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt and serves on the MBAA Technical Quarterly and JIB editorial review boards. Eric is also a recipient of the ASBC Eric Kneen Memorial Award (2001 and 2011).