The Next Pint of Brew Technology

28/03/2019 It’s high time breweries up their technology game, and here’s how they can do so

The beer industry has always been more of a traditional one, with brewers using the same technology that has been in use for almost 100 years. New technological changes and innovations are not often applied directly to the brewing process as most brewers have the impression that creating any alterations to the process might tamper the quality of their beer.
With technology expanding at a quick pace, brewers have opened up to the ideology of adding advanced technology to the brewing process.
New technology is finding its way into the world of brewing for both a better-quality product and a more cost-effective production due to the declining beer market. This expansion of technology is happening in all parts of the brewing process. Breweries everywhere are working towards making their processes more cost-effective, environmentally friendly and also achieve a higher quality product.


ALGAE
Boom Algae is one of the many examples of technology seeping into the brewing business, making it much more environmentally friendly. Boom Algae has come up with a process, whereby carbon dioxide and other waste by-products of fermentation are taken and fed to algae, which is then sold to Living Ink Technologies that turns this into biodegradable green ink.
Boulder-based engineers have also come up with a bio-manufacturing process which uses a biological organism created in wastewater to innovate the carbon-based materials needed to make energy storage cells. This idiosyncratic pairing between breweries and batteries could bring about an opportunity for reducing highly priced wastewater treatment cost for brewers, while simultaneously providing cost-effective means of creating renewable energy. Avery Brewing, a Boulder-based brewery is already using this process in the production of their niche brews.


CAVITATION
Italian brewers have engineered a process to speed up brewing. This is known as “cavitation”. Cavitation is the creation and collapse of minuscule bubbles, plasma, vapour or void within a liquid, creating temperatures as high as 1000K and producing a pressure which is approximately 5000 times greater than atmospheric pressure. Cavitation is a distinctive process. Technically, it is the result of pushing liquid faster than it can react to the movement, similar to the fast-moving tips of submarine or ship propellers, which cavitate the water around them.  
One of the major advantages of Cavitation is that it pulps malted barley, causing the removal of the necessity for it to be milled in advance. “Dry milling of malts becomes irrelevant with the new installation since malts are pulverized by the cavitational processes down to less than 100 µm in size within a few minutes,” said Albanese and co., creators of cavitation (arXiv, 2016).  With this, the biodegradability of the spent malt is also hiked, which is a waste product of the brewing process.
Cavitation is also said to speed up the rate at which starch goes through the pulverized malted barley into the wort. This process is so methodical that at the end of it, little to no starch is left. The use of cavitation allows for the entire process of sparging, which is the washing of malt to remove trapped sugar and starch, become completely unnecessary, therefore saving both time and energy and increasing efficiency. This helps the conversion of starch into simple sugars to work at lower temperatures, due to the efficiency levels of the release of starch.
In addition, cavitation also helps perfect the efficiency of the chemical processes that occur during the conventional boiling of the wort and hop mixture. Unpleasant gases are also de-gassed quickly by the use of the cavitation process. The altercation of enzymes also takes place in the wort, which allows the hop flavours to mix in easily, neglecting the process of boiling. One of the breweries that have dwelled into the process of cavitation is Roak Brewing Co., a brewery in Royal Oak, Michigan. “This is a great opportunity to advance not only ROAK but the entire craft brewing industry" states John Leone, co-owner and co-president of Roak (Hydrodynamics.com, 2015).


EGG STONE TANKS
Ever wanted the Easter bunny to come early and deliver Easter eggs? That’s not possible. However, the beer bunny is here and is ready to deliver beer eggs for a better brew. Concrete fermentation tanks have been springing up in breweries everywhere. This is mainly because brewers are now accepting the material that has been loved by winemakers for ages because it moulds the spherical mouthfeel of the wine fermented in oak without contributing and tampering with any flavour, and can do same for beer. The porous properties in concrete allow a small amount of oxygen to contact the brew, aiding to move fermentation and ageing along.
The egg-like shape of the tank also stimulates the movement of beer smoothly during fermentation, since it’s free of corners in which the liquid can settle and cease developing. Hair of the Dog Brewing co., Portland and OEC Brewing, Connecticut have both been using concrete to its greatest effect, creating a seamless brew.  John Erik Strom of Bent Water Brewing in Lynn, Massachusetts has high hopes for it. “I think that the concrete has a lot of calcium in it, so we expect some communication between the beer and the tank there,” Strom says. “To be honest, it’s new to me, but what I’m expecting is just a really smooth, clean feel. We’ll probably put some big, awesome stout in it to allow it to dance with the concrete, and hopefully, we’ll pull out some pretty unique and interesting beer” (innovations, innovations and Fowle, n.d.).

TALKING TANKS
A little bit of mainstream technology has also found its way into the doors of breweries. Ever had the urge to talk to your tanks and ask them what’s going on in there? Well, that’s possible now. The BREWMONITOR SYSTEM comes with real-time fermentation monitoring. The best part, you don’t even need to replace your tanks.BrewMontior devices can be fixated into your equipment easily. Once BrewMonitor is installed, you can access all data and manage tank settings from a computer, tablet, smartphone etc. BrewMonitor is also accustomed to sending alerts if something isn’t right in the tanks. This piece of technology keeps everything in check from dissolved oxygen to pH levels, the temperature to density to make sure you have the perfect brew for an impeccable pint.


HOPLESS NOT HOPELESS
Processed food and meat being made in labs are pretty common by now. The same thing is happening in the world of brewing. Someday soon, you too could brew a hopless beer that tastes like it is a fully loaded pint of hoppiness.
A team of biologists at the University of California, Berkley put their skills to use and genetically modified a strain of brewer’s yeast and put it to work at two jobs: to ferment beer and give it a hoppy flavour. Stunned about how yeast could give a hoppy flavour? Twenty-seven employees from Lagunitas Brewing Co. were given two beers - one made with real hops, the other with the new yeast. The tasters overwhelmingly stated that the beer made with the new yeast was hoppier (Buzztime, 2018).


Genetic Modification has always been a controversial topic in the food and beverage industry, however, the potential benefits of this new brew technology shouldn’t be neglected. The production of hops is an expensive process and can cause the flavour to vary from year to year, whereas the creation of hop from yeast would be able to offer an affordable and consistent alternative to real hops.
Technology sure plays a huge part in everything, and fortunately for the beer industry, it's on the positive side. Adapting the latest brewing technology is a good way to bump business and increase footfall in the brewery. Here’s a pint raised for more tech in the brewing world.

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