Brewing beer is an art form of its own — the taste, the consistency and the color are all ways that a brewer can sense the quality of the beer. But as Jared Resnick, the Chief Operating Officer of brewing software company Precision Fermentation, explains, the traditional process a brewer uses to test the standard of a beer is reactive rather than proactive. Brewers are only able to taste the beer after 12 to 24 hours, not during the process itself.
“The way that brewers were sampling their product for consistency and viability was not up to the same standards that you would find inside of a scientific lab,” said Resnick.
And that’s why Durham’s Precision Fermentation was founded and then launched in 2017 — to provide brewers with software possessing analytical tools that would help them brew better beer that, Resnick said, “could be replicated and give greater insight into what their product was.”
Precision Fermentation is a spin-out of parent company Mimetics, a Durham-based biodata company. Precision Fermentation’s flagship product, the BrewMonitor, is a two-part system that gives brewers a chance to see what’s happening in real time as yeast cells drive the fermenting process. The BrewMonitor continuously analyzes brewing tanks to develop models of the ways the yeast responds to and then modifies in its environment. At the end of a single fermentation, the monitoring system can provide a million data points.
“The software that delivers to the brewer puts them in a proactive state,” Resnick said. “The BrewMonitor enables the brewer to make decisions that affect the beer at the moment.”
Currently, the BrewMonitor has been implemented in seven local and North Carolina-based brewing companies: Durham-based breweries Ponysauraus, Starpoint, and Bull Durham; Cary-based Bond Brothers; Trophy Brewing and Clouds Brewing in Raleigh; and Winston Salem-based Foothills Brewing.
Les Stewart, Trophy Brewing’s head brewer, said the BrewMonitor is exciting because it allows the company to foresee the fermentation trajectory.
“We’re now able to build specific profiles for different brands, and BrewMonitor’s ease of use is remarkable,” he said. “It allows us to produce better, more consistent product, and gives us more confidence about what we’re putting out on the shelf.”
Standing on its own
Parent company Mimetic has been well-funded—including a $14.5M grant from the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency (DARPA)—while Precision Fermentation raised seven figures last year to develop and release the BrewMonitor as a standalone company.
Said Precision Fermentation CEO Daniel Kulenic, “From an operational standpoint we’re giving brewery owners an opportunity to succeed in a very saturated market. (It) allows them to create consistent products that they can take to market.”
Resnick said he and his fellow Co-Founders were inspired to found the startup because of their decades of experience in food and beverage science as well as yeast biology. They wanted to launch the company and product in North Carolina not only because of the great brewery culture here but also to strengthen and support the North Carolina and Triangle brewing community.
“We have the perfect environment in our area because we’re working with brewers we know,” said Resnick. “Why would we not launch it in Durham?”