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Canning Line Nightmares: What to Know About Megasphaera and Pectinatus

As brewers, we love our low DO levels and our cans of light, crisp lager in the summertime. Unfortunately, so do a couple of the stealthiest spoilage organisms known to the beer industry.

Jessie Smith May 4, 2023 - 8 min read

Canning Line Nightmares: What to Know About Megasphaera and Pectinatus Primary Image

Photo: Jamie Bogner

Besides exploding cans, I would say that this topic—a pair of the sneakiest, most pernicious bacteria that can be found in a brewery—has given me the most sleepless nights during my career of quality testing in the industry. The resurgence of light lagers and pilsners in the craft sector is pretty recent, so many of us, as craft brewers, may not even be aware of these especially harmful bacteria, which have usually only been a problem for macrobreweries.

Megasphaera and Pectinatus are two genera of gram-negative bacteria (think E. coli) that thrive in low-oxygen environments. Here, we’ll consider the detrimental effects of these bacteria, where they can be found in the brewing environment, and what can be done to prevent them from infecting your beer—so, hopefully, they don’t keep you up at night, too.

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Jessie Smith is quality manager at SingleCut Beersmiths in Clifton Park, New York.