Beer conditioning is the process of carbonating beer, and it can significantly impact the final flavor throughout the entire brewing process.
During primary fermentation, yeast converts sugars into alcohol and CO2, which is allowed to escape. To achieve the desired level of carbonation, brewers must create higher pressures after primary fermentation. Nowadays, most microbreweries fill a tank with CO2 through a carbonation stone until it dissolves in the beer. This method allows for precise control of carbonation levels, especially for beers that need to be quickly ready for sale. Carbonation not only affects the mouthfeel of the beer but also helps mellow flavors and develop new tastes as the beer ages. In simple terms, conditioning is necessary to avoid flat beer.
The purpose of beer pasteurization is to ensure its biological stability and promote long-term storage. Pasteurization should be performed at the lowest temperature and for the shortest time possible to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria present in the beer.
There are generally two methods of pasteurization. The first method is called
, which is conducted before bottling. Flash pasteurization involves using a heat exchanger to heat and cool the beer. During the process, the beer is heated to a temperature of 68°C-72°C and maintained at this temperature for about 50 seconds before being cooled back to its initial temperature. Flash pasteurization is popular in many breweries due to its small space requirements, lower equipment and energy costs, and other advantages.
The second method is called
, which takes place after bottling. Tunnel sterilization involves a series of sterilization machines arranged in a tunnel-like configuration. The beer bottles pass through different temperature zones, including preheating, heat sterilization, cooling, and finally exit the tunnel sterilization machine. Unlike flash pasteurization, tunnel sterilization simultaneously sterilizes both the bottles and the bottled beer, making it equally effective.