Craft-sized pasteurisers next big thing

Brews News’ coverage of the US Craft Brewers Conference (2nd-5th May) is brought to you by Rallings Labels, Stickers and Packaging.

Pasteurisers have previously been seen as the province of major brewers, but that could be about to change.

Smaller and more affordable pasteurisers will have the same impact on brewing that compact canning lines did, according to canning line manufacturer Codi.

The company is showcasing its newly-developed pasteurisers at the Craft Brewers Conference, currently underway in Minneapolis. The company’s sales manager Andrew Ferguson told Brews News that interest has been high from craft brewers.

“Based on the enquiries we’re receiving, it’s going to be a big movement in the future,” he said.

“We’ve watched the transition in the past 10 years or so of people getting into canning lines, and the way that it became so popular is that a lot of manufacturers brought the cost down and made it more approachable.

“I think we’re on the cusp of that happening with pasteurisers right now where people didn’t think they had the budget or the footprint or the understanding of why they were needed.”

While the technology has made the equipment suitable for craft breweries’ scale and budgets, the rise of low alcohol beer has also provided an imperative for brewers wanting to enter this market.

Ferguson said that despite the perception that pasteurising negatively impacted beer flavours, this shouldn’t be the case.

“One of the things that’s interesting during the purchase process is that your average brewer has no idea what PUs (pasteurising units) are needed for every application,” he said.

“And unfortunately, a lot of the documentation that I found is wrong, it’s based on the dairy industry. And so a lot of the numbers that are repeated are not correct.”

He said the most important thing for brewers is to get their products tested.

“The key information [you will] want to know is the pasteurisation units required, the maximum allowable temperature, because we can hit it with water so high that it’ll boil your product and it can have negative flavour impacts to your product.

“We want to know what’s the number we have to stay under, then with that information and the speed of your filler with that dictates how long the tunnel is we’re going to make.

“They range in scale from 20ft, being our most popular unit, and we have some installed up to 85ft right now. That’s for lines that are 500 cans per minute, or for dairy or fresh juice products that need a really high PU range.”

He said brewers can get a sense of the effect on their beer using a home sous vide machine.

“Just sous vide some beer, like a little one of the home-cooking things, get water, hold it at the exact temperature, drop a can in there for X amount of minutes, pull it out and do some sensory on and do it at a range of temperatures.

“And you could say at 60 [or] at 64 [degrees], wherever that threshold is, I can detect an off flavour.”

The development of smaller and less expensive pasteurisers comes as the Brewers Association Chief Economist, Bart Watson, highlighted the challenges facing brewers in a crowded market and with growing competition from other beverages and the need for innovation.

“An opportunity for breweries and the overall beer category to grow moving forward will come at the meeting of brand strength and innovation,” Watson said.

He noted the trend of lower-alcohol beers, noting that it was still a niche but growing segment in the US.

The Craft Brewers Conference continues until 6th May.

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