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Oktoberfest and the Pasteurization Process

October 15, 2014

There’s a keystone in every great invention.

It might be hard to believe that October is nearly over. Generally, the arrival of October sparks three different thoughts: the fall is coming into full swing; Halloween is right around the corner; and the annual Oktoberfest celebration is back!

First held in 1810, Oktoberfest is the largest fair in the world. Every year, millions of people gather in Munich, Germany to enjoy games and activities, traditional Bavarian food, and most importantly, several varieties of local beer.

Oktoberfest’s popularity is a testament to the amount of people that enjoy the taste of beer, and brewers utilize various methods to ensure their beer is of the highest quality. One of these methods is known as pasteurization.

What is Pasteurization?

In 1862, French chemist Louis Pasteur discovered that microorganisms (such as yeast) helped create alcohol from sugar; when these organisms became contaminated, it led to souring within the mixture. Pasteur could not only tell these microorganisms apart, but he was able to separate them; with the help of French physiologist Claude Bernard, Pasteur showed that bacteria in a liquid could be killed if that liquid was heated to a certain temperature then rapidly cooled—this process became known as pasteurization.

Pasteurization was first used with milk. Pasteur heated milk to 145°F for 30 minutes and proceeded to cool it; after cooling, the milk was free of any bacterial contamination. This same principle of heating and cooling to remove impurities can also be applied to beer.

Beer Pasteurization

Beer can be pasteurized to prevent the growth of yeast, or any other microorganism that could be lingering inside the beer after it has been packaged. This process also gives beer a longer shelf live, as pasteurized beer tends to keep for several months.

Many canned and bottled beers found in the United States are pasteurized; this is accomplished by running packages of beer through a 140°F hot water spray for two to three minutes. If beer isn’t pasteurized, it needs to be stored and served at low temperatures for optimal taste.

There are two basic types of beer pasteurization:

·         Tunnel pasteurization involves the use of large conveyor machines that heat and cool beer bottles and cans that are already filled. Beer packages are led though different watertight “tunnels,” where the beer is kept at the desired temperatures for a specified amount of time. Tunnel pasteurizers utilize hot water circuitry, high-powered sprayers, and a plethora of pumps and valves—these machines are able to treat several beverages at once, and fairly quickly.

·         Flash pasteurization is used prior to the filling of bottles and cans in order to prevent microorganisms from developing. Flash pasteurizers are much smaller than their tunnel counterparts, consisting of multi-stage plate heat exchangers, cooling sections, and a tank for the treated beer. This process is often used with sterile filling techniques to ensure there aren’t latent bacteria in the target beer conveyances.

 The next time you enjoy a beer, be sure to lift it in appreciation of Pasteur’s revolutionary purification process. Pasteurization machines utilize various Keystone components, including fuse clips and fuse holders, cable clamps: nylon and steel, mounting brackets, screws & panel hardware, spacers & standoffs and washers