Brewery Exchange: Annalisa’s Blog

Left Hand Brewing Co. and Birrificio Italiano have partnered  up again for another for Sharevolution: Brewery Exchange program.

My name is Annalisa and I am the quality manager at Birrificio Italiano. Last year my colleague and brewer Francesca traveled to Left Hand for Sharevolution. I was a part of the exchange program during March of 2018. Unlike Francesca, though, I haven’t been in the brewing industry long. I was not a beer lover until 2 years ago, when I went in Erasmus and met two Belgian women that made me discover that there’s much more about beer than commercial lagers.

And that’s when everything started: besides tasting many new and different beer styles, I also wanted to quench my intellectual thirst and began reading books and scientific papers about the chemistry of beer. I fell in love with it, which lead me to the choice of doing my master thesis about beer oxidation in the brewing industry, at Carlsberg Italy. Agostino, the founder of Birrificio Italiano, also had his thesis there before founding Birrificio Italiano in 1996, which is why he contacted me to start working at his brewery. Since then, I think I could never work in a place that does not smell like yeast, wort and fresh hops. The most beautiful thing is that everyone working in this industry feels exactly the same and what I loved about Left Hand is that everyone is as much of a beer nerd as I am. I felt at home since the very first day, when Left Hand’s co-founder Eric took me to the tasting room for a beer.

Annalisa’s Time At Left Hand & Beyond

During the four weeks I spent at Left Hand I had the chance to get an overview of all the departments, with a special focus on the quality perspective. I got to help the brewers Jeff and Sam when brewing Left Hand’s masterpiece, Milk Stout, and this summer’s new entry, Peach Beerllini Radler. I also shadowed the people working in the cellar and in packaging on the bottling, keg and canning lines. I think this is really important for a quality manager, because it allows you to get closer to the process and to get a deep insight of it. It allows for better understanding of the possible causes of a quality problems when spending most of the time away from the production site itself, in the lab.

The rest of my time I was driven through lab life with lots of fun by Matt, Brynn and Mark: we shared the exhaustion of the superlong VDK procedure, made sure the new beers were good to go during clearance panel, measured fermentation and maturation parameters, prepared media for plating and membrane filtration, made sure that the beer matched specifications with alcolizer, ran PCR to verify no bad boys like diastaticus would ruin the beer, made hot steep and grist analysis on malt, did statistics on the collected data and many more things I will not mention not to have you yawning.

The reason why I came to Left Hand was to get an overall view of the quality perspective throughout the company and I think the target was covered, thanks to the fact that I found amazing people who were willing to feed my greed for knowledge.

Don’t worry, I did not work all the time during my stay here. I drank lots of beer, ate my very first doughnut and Mexican food and visited many cool places. Carl, brewer and historian, turned out to be the best guide to visit the city of Denver and its breweries. I love travelling and doing sports in natural landscapes, which is why I loved Colorado. On the first weekend I was invited to join the company’s skiing trip to Loveland, which was a real adventure for me since I don’t have much experience with winter sports. During the next weeks Brynn, the lab manager, and I went running the Potasso and Benjamin Loop and the Mesa Trail below Boulder’s flat irons. We also went on a trip to Utah and visited Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park. I was so shocked by that landscape that I was able to pronounce only one word: “Wow!!!”. I think that this word could describe the whole experience, from my first to my last day. I will never forget my time here and I will always carry all of you in my heart.