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Inspecting Grain Deliveries: Spectrophotometer?


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What are the distillers and brewers on this forum using to check the quality of the cereal being delivered to their establishment?

Is anyone using a spectrophotometer? If so, any recommendations?

If not, what are you using to check your grain deliveries' moisture content, and if any, insect/rodent infestation?

Perhaps the scale at which a distillery operates is a function of how an operation inspects their deliveries, but I care not of your scale (small or large). Simply share your inspection techniques and equipment!

Much obliged,


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When we sign a contract with raw material suppliers, we negotiate the specifications for which each delivery must meet. There are two ranges--within our acceptable range of target (called our "control limits"), and within exception tolerances but acceptable with our prior approval (called our "exception limits".) We've found that a supplier may need to send a product outside of our control limits due to agricultural variances. We have the right to refuse it, but may accept it if we can blend it with other materials in inventory. Items outside the exception limits will not be accepted.

Spec sheets must be sent to our office at least 48 hours before delivery of any raw material. The spec must be for the lot being delivered (of course, but you'd be surprised at how often a generic target spec is sent, rather than an actual assay of the batch scheduled for delivery.) We agree to accept all ordered product that fall within our control limits, and those which fall within our exception limits for which we have provided our prior approval. We have the right to refuse the delivery of any product outside the exception tolerances, without incurring any expenses, including shipping.

For malted barley, we monitor the following:

  • Moisture %
  • Total protein %
  • Extract % course ground
  • Diastatic power
  • Free amino nitrogen
  • Fine/course difference %

We work with our suppliers annually to determine what the actual values should be for the year. Once we agree and sign a contract, we only monitor the batches from the spec sheets. However, once in a blue moon (say every two years or so) we send a sample to the Siebel Institute or some other analysis lab to spot check that what we are told on the spec sheets is accurate. In 10 years, I've never had a problem with my independent lab analysis being significantly different from the specs provided by the supplier. I guess that comes down to picking trustworthy suppliers.

I've always enjoyed this part. I hope you find it enjoyable as well.

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