The brewing industry has recently undergone several significant changes. The craft beer market has exploded and, the average beer drinker has developed more sophisticated tastes, opting for higher quality beers. Brewers are looking to expand their business by exporting their product to distant consumers. All the while, the cost of energy, water, and hops has increased putting breweries bottom line profits at risk. In order to navigate these market shifts, stbreweries must adapt their method of production in order to create a high-quality product, which prioritises flavour and characteristics to appeal to the sophisticated consumer, whilst reducing process costs and increasing the shelf life of their product in order to stermaintain the products stability- so beer reaches the consumer as fresh as it was when it left the brewery.
So, here’s the question, how can brewers make a better tasting beer, with a longer shelf life all whilst reducing the cost of production?
Innovation is the answer
To overcome these challenges, breweries must look to implement innovative solutions throughout their brewing and packaging processes. Recent years have seen the emergence of technologies which can benefit the flavour, cost and shelf life of beer. However, beer has long been considered a combination of art and science, and some brewers are reluctant to switch from traditional methods of brewing to modern scientific methods. However, an increasing number of breweries from the local craft brewery to the global goliaths are discovering the benefits of modern sterile filtration as a method of microbial stabilisation.
Sterile filtration of beer
The sterile filtration of beer is a method of microbial stabilisation which eliminates unwanted contaminants such as Pediococcus damnosus, Brettanomyces bruxellensis, Lactobacillus lindneri and lactobacillus brevis from beer prior to packaging. The microbial stabilisation process and the subsequent elimination of spoilage organisms greatly increases the shelf-life of beer when compared to beer which has not been treated, enabling brewers to ship their product to consumers at greater distances over longer periods of time.
Brewers have historically used other methods of microbial control such as flash pasteurisation, however, these practices have their limitations. The method of flash pasteurisation involves cooking beer, which has been painstakingly brewed with time and care, up to a temperature over 70oC for a short period of time. This process does denature spoilage organisms within the beer, but also damages the delicate flavour and characteristics of the beer.
Sterile filtration is the gentler alternative to flash pasteurisation. The implementation of sterile filtration eliminates all spoilage micro-organisms but does not alter or damage any of the desired characteristics and flavours the master brewer achieved.
What’s more, sterile filtration has a lower operating cost compared to flash pasteurisation due to the high electrical energy consumption required to heat such large volumes of liquid to 70oC, the consequential water consumption and beer loss experienced when flash pasteurisers deviate from critical flow rate – a common issue for brewers running flash pasteurisation.
To find out more about sterile filtration, sign up to our webinar “Extending Beer Shelf-Life While Reducing Processing Costs” which will be held on the 16th of April.