If you enjoy a pint of beer now and then, perhaps this headline caught your attention - particularly if you are also involved in the reprocessing of medical devices (and there is a good chance you are, if you are a regular reader of this newsletter). Recently, I purchased a product called the Picobrew. The manufacturer of this device compares it to the Keurig coffee maker. If you are familiar with the Keurig, it takes the hassle out of brewing a cup of coffee - all you do is pop-in one of the prefilled "K-cups", select the cup size (the amount of water to be run through the coffee grounds) and hit the start button. Moments later - a cup is filled with brewed coffee. Brewing beer with the Picobrew is not quite as simple, but there is similarity. You purchase prefilled "cartridges" with grains and hops and you put that in the machine. Fill with the prescribed amount of distilled water, and hit the start button. Two hours later, you have the finished "wort" of beer, ready for further steps (fermentation, carbonation, racking, etc.). That seems easy enough, but the bit that reminds me about reprocessing medical devices is the part BEFORE you put the cartridges in. The machine and accessories must be cleaned and sanitized. Just like with reprocessing medical devices, there are some manual steps (including, rinsing, brushing - sound familiar?) and also some automated steps. It is the automating of the sanitation steps that most intrigued me about the Picobrew. Following the manual steps, you fill the machine with the prescribed amount of distilled water, hit a button and it goes through a thorough cleaning and sanitizing cycle (including heating the water to steam producing temperatures). This automation takes the human element mostly out of the equation, and helps to produce a consistent result - a machine that is clean, sanitized and ready for the next step of processing - in this case, brewing beer. Sound familiar?


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