Black Hops' Nightmare Before Christmas

"It's the worst combination," says Dan Norris, one of Black Hops' co-founders, as soon as we speak on the phone.

And he's got a point. They've issued a recall for a beer, which is something that's happened a few times in recent years in the local beer world, and has typically been handled well, but which is something no brewer wants to face. But this isn't any beer: it's a beer that's in one of the most high profile beer advent calendars – that of Beer Cartel – and which has been delivered to thousands of homes this week.

"It's the Christmas Day beer," adds Dan.

The beer, a beefed up version of their cult classic Eggnog Stout, has continued fermenting in the cans. It was picked up by the Beer Cartel team as they were coming towards the ends of this year's delivery run when they noticed some of the cans were feeling firm.

"We didn't pick it up in our normal quality checks," Dan says, with the brewery advising anyone who has received their calendar to "carefully remove the can from slot 25 and place it in the rubbish immediately".

In the brewery's statement, they say: "The risk of excess fermentation in the container is due to the beer being prematurely chilled and packaged, resulting in residual fermentable sugar remaining in the can – which when combined with the live yeast culture that resides in all of our beers, can continue to ferment."

Upon speaking to Beer Cartel staff, Dan says they checked cans from their retention program and confirmed the issue, which means the entire batch has to be recalled. The unique nature of the situation makes it of a kind different to other recalls, with the festive element adding an emotional factor, but it does also mean they know everyone that has the beer.

Along with Beer Cartel and Black Hops, Food Standards Australia New Zealand are putting out a statement, with the next step working out how to compensate those that purchased calendars.

"We just want to make sure we're doing everything right," Dan says.

The statement adds: "We are very disappointed that this has happened, and we unreservedly apologise to our customers and to Beer Cartel for the inconvenience caused."

Beer Cartel have also put out a statement, in which they say: "We’re truly devastated and extremely sorry to bring you this news."

They confirm they are working with the brewery on potential compensation and that anyone who bought the calendars can expect an update in the next week.


Black Hops' Full Statement on the recall

Dan, Eddie and Govs regret to inform our valued customers that we are recalling all Black Hops Extra Eggnog 375ml cans effective immediately, due to potential for refermentation.

The beer was brewed exclusively for the Beer Cartel 2019 Advent Calendar and can be found in Slot 25. No other Black Hops beers are affected by this issue.

After discovering this issue this afternoon we immediately followed our Recall Plan and contacted Queensland Health and Food Standards Australia and New Zealand, who are also issuing a recall notice.

Beer Cartel has been made aware of the problem and are in the process of directly notifying customers of the issue.

If you have purchased the 2019 Beer Cartel Advent Calendar, please carefully remove the can from slot 25 and place it in the rubbish immediately.

The risk of excess fermentation in the container is due to the beer being prematurely chilled and packaged, resulting in residual fermentable sugar remaining in the can - which when combined with the live yeast culture that resides in all of our beers, can continue to ferment. 

This has the potential to result in an increase in ABV rendering the product not fit for sale in current packaging, as well as excessive pressure build up in the can, potentially leading to leaking or rupturing of the container. 

Black Hops Brewing is committed to safety and quality however in this case, we failed to detect this early enough as part of our routine quality checks. As such, unfortunately it has been sent out to customers, and needs to be recalled.

Please note, on the off chance that you have already consumed the beer, the liquid itself is not unsafe for consumption. 

We have already begun reviewing our procedures to prevent this problem from occurring again. We will introduce additional testing for residual fermentable sugars and increased checks before products are released into the market. We stay committed to producing shelf stable and safe beers that are unpasteurised. We take full responsibility for this incident and declare our commitment to providing our customers and consumers with high quality beers.

Black Hops is a new company that has grown quickly, and we are continuously improving our quality procedures as the company grows. We continue to improve our quality program which includes our quality manual and recall plan, sensory program, retention library and batch testing protocols (both onsite and offsite lab testing) while we build on our existing in-house lab capabilities. 

We are very disappointed that this has happened, and we unreservedly apologise to our customers and to Beer Cartel for the inconvenience caused. We will continue working hard to enhance the quality of our products, to minimise the risk of this happening again, and use this experience to become a better brewery in the future. 

Please note we will be working with Beer Cartel regarding compensation. Buyers of the calendar can expect an update in the next week.

We would like to thank you for your continued support and understanding. If you have any questions, please contact us on beer@blackhops.com.au or 0435 830 466.

Dan Norris, Eddie Oldfield & Michael McGovern - Black Hops Founders


Beer Cartel's Announcement

Just before 2pm today (Friday 15th November), we became aware of an issue relating to beer number 25 in our 2019 Beer Advent Calendar. We’re truly devastated and extremely sorry to bring you this news. Black Hops Brewing have issued a Food Safety Recall for their beer Extra Eggnog Stout. You can read the full recall on their website here: http://bit.ly/2NOn1pJ

If you have purchased or received this year’s Beer Cartel Beer Advent Calendar please remove the can from slot 25 and put it in the rubbish immediately.

FAQs 

  • What is the issue?
    An issue has been identified where there is a risk of excess fermentation in the container. This is due to the beer being prematurely chilled and packaged, resulting in residual fermentable sugars remaining in the can - which when combined with the live yeast culture that resides in all Black Hops Brewing beers, can continue to ferment.
    This has the potential to result in an increase in ABV rendering the product not fit for sale in current packaging, as well as excessive pressure build up in the can, potentially leading to leaking or rupturing of the container.
  • What do I need to do?
    If you have received this year’s Beer Cartel Beer Advent Calendar, or it is on its way to you, please remove the can from slot 25 and put it in the rubbish immediately.
  • What if my Advent Calendar hasn’t shipped yet?
    We’re currently removing Extra Eggnog Stout from Advent Calendars we still have in stock and will look to have an update for you in the coming week.
  • What if I've already drunk the beer?
    No, there are no health and safety issues if you have already consumed the beer.
  • What happens now?
    We will be working with Black Hops Brewing regarding compensation for buyers of this year’s Advent Calendar. You can expect to hear an update from us in the next week.

We cannot express enough how sorry we are that this has occurred and the inconvenience caused. We truly appreciate your understanding, patience and continued support as we work through this.

Richard, Geoff and the team at Beer Cartel.


We looked at product recalls and how they're handled in this Big Issue feature in March.

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