We take quality control very seriously here at VBC. From our raw ingredients and water, to our cleaning regimen and packaging, quality control is our number one concern, especially with our growing Brettanomyces barrel-fermentation program (more on that later).
Every batch of beer we produce goes through rigorous, in-house microbiological lab testing to ensure that the beer is as intended and infection free. Unfortunately part of this process involves time.
After we move a batch of beer to the brite tank we take aseptic samples of the beer. To ensure sterility of the sample, we flush the sample valve with 70% isopropyl alcohol and flame the port with a propane torch. After cooling the sample valve by running beer through it, we collect an aseptic sample for testing in the lab. This sample is then added to two different selective media - one of which tests for lactic acid bacteria (lactobacillus and pediococcus) and another that tests for wild yeast (Brettanomyces).
Here's where the time part comes in... It takes a minimum of 4 days of anaerobic incubation at 20°-25° C to determine if there are beer spoilers in the beer, so we hold beer in the brite tanks for that long before we will ever package it. Once it clears this test (which thankfully has always been the case - knock on stainless AND wood), we are ready to package into kegs and cans.
After canning we take more aseptic samples from multiple cans and repeat these microbiological tests and incubation time. This of course brings us back to the beginning of this post... We're sorry, but even though Free Verse cans are full and cold in our cooler, we cannot, in good conscience, release this beer until we know it is exactly what we intend it to be (down to a microbiological level) even if it means being out of cans for a few days.
We may bend these rules for some very limited runs of brewery-only release cans in the future, but for our flagship Free Verse India Pale Ale that sees growing distribution, there's simply no risking the beer or our reputation simply to get the beer out a few days early.
All that said, assuming the lab work comes back clean...we'll have Free Verse India Pale Ale cases in the taproom ready to go on Sunday at Noon for all your Super Bowl shenanigans!
I'm an Atlanta guy, so: cheers to high standards for beer quality and the Falcons!