BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Good People Brewing Company has recently established a laboratory at Innovation Depot in Birmingham. The facility, housed within the unique business incubation complex, is the latest and most comprehensive advance in the brewery’s quality control and assurance program.
“The quality control program is the single most important factor in the sale of our beer,” explains Michael Sellers, a brewery co-founder. “We work hard to provide our customers, as well as the retail and wholesale partners that serve them, an excellent product that tastes consistent whether it comes out of a can from the grocery store or the tap at your local pub.”
The program is thoroughly integrated with every facet of the brewery’s operations. According to brewery co-founder Jason Malone, “Each cycle of production — brewing, fermenting, cellaring, packaging and storage — must be rigorously monitored. In our view, a brewery must take a proactive approach, which means taking a close look at execution in each cycle and ensuring the final product reaches the high standard we have established.” In addition to this regular testing, the laboratory is also being used to research different brewing techniques intended to maximize efficiency, consistency, and freshness.
Ben Self, the chemical engineer who manages the quality control program, balances a sensory analysis group — where trained tasters evaluate beer samples — with the quantitative methods afforded by the instruments in the lab. “While we were putting together the new facility, we knew that more formal staff training was essential to validate the results of the devices,” notes Self, who runs the only proprietary lab at an Alabama brewery. “In the lab, we can measure bitterness and ABV and identify unwanted chemical compounds, but what’s most important to all of us is how the beer looks, smells, and tastes.”
The oldest and largest brewery in the state, Good People is still relatively new and small in comparison with national brands. “We are in the sweet spot,” says Malone. “When you are starting out, the volume is too small to justify such a large investment, but as you get bigger it can be difficult to introduce new systems and procedures.” The laboratory is equipped with the instruments necessary to ensure product quality and consistency, as well as the detection of microbiological contaminants.
The collegial atmosphere of Innovation Depot allows Good People to gain from others’ technical experience, and share their own. Bebe Goodrich, an Innovation Depot neighbor, says, “Working alongside Good People has elevated our business, Icebox Coffee, as we benefit greatly from their experiences in the field, in product development, and their general sense of community. They are an asset to Innovation Depot and Birmingham’s flourishing culinary scene.”
“We are thrilled to have Good People Labs here at Innovation Depot. While not a typical industry we normally see, it is absolutely a great fit for the culture and community of Innovation Depot,” says T. Devon Laney, president of Innovation Depot.
With each expansion — in capacity and distribution — Good People Brewing Co. has reaffirmed its original commitment to quality. Though the program is now housed a few blocks away from the brewery at Innovation Depot and has tools that may have seemed unimaginable at the brewery’s founding, it is only the most recent development in the company’s constant pursuit of excellent and consistent beer.