Biofilm Formation in Breweries and Beer Lines

It is generally appreciated that, for biofilm formation in breweries and beer lines, four items are necessary, i.e., (1) microorganisms, (2) moisture, (3) nutrients, and (4) surfaces. Regarding nutrients, even minimal nutrients will suffice and, with respect to surfaces, these can be solid or liquid. In our blog from November 2017, titled “Biofilms,” we stated that life is not sterile. Therefore, there are plenty of opportunities in beer lines and on other brewing surfaces for microorganisms (bacteria, yeast, and fungal cells) to adhere and build up. We should also realize that, while we talk a lot about biofilms these days, biofilms have been known to exist for 3.25 billion years! It can be appreciated therefore that, if biofilm formation is to be prevented to ensure clean beer, it is imperative always to keep surfaces and lines ultra-clean using such next-generation solutions like Draftec beer line cleaner or Master Brewers Standard tank and keg cleaner.

biofilm formation

According to the Center for Biofilm Engineering at Montana State University (MSU), the first step in biofilm formation is when microorganisms such as bacteria produce extracellular material known as EPS or Extracellular Polymeric Substance. This sticky substance, comprising sugars, proteins, and nucleic acids, allows bacteria to attach to any surface and allows the bacteria to stick together as a biofilm. Eventually, layers of microorganisms and EPS build on each other. The extent of such growth depends on many factors and multiple conditions but, ultimately, it is not unusual for bits of the biofilm or clumps of microorganisms to eventually break away or fragment from the main biofilm body and re-establish themselves on a new surface. Communities of microorganisms as in biofilms like to be together and generally become resilient to many stressors to allow for the exchange of limited nutrients and elimination of waste products, according to MSU. In fact, in mixed microbial communities some microorganisms generate nutrients (autotrophs) for those microorganisms that cannot (heterotrophs), i.e., they cross-feed! The hardiness of a biofilm might also be strengthened by EPS which might act as a protective barrier layer for both active and dormant cells. In fact, it has been estimated that bacteria in biofilms can be 1,500 times more resistant than free bacteria to chemical agents due, in part, to EPS. Biofilms are amazing!

Thus, to eliminate biofilm formation and guarantee clean beer, as the brewmaster intended, it is imperative to clean effectively using sophisticated, optimized products at the recommended frequency. Your friends at AC Technologies are dedicated to helping you do just that!!

AC Technologies - Clean Once, Clean Right!

A free sample of Draftec's beer line cleaner is available for professional line cleaners and beer distributors. To request a sample, please email us at or call us at (888) 226-8228.