When it comes to beer most of us are concerned with only one temperature: cold (or between 38-55°F / 3-13°C depending on the type according to enthusiasts). But while those of us who enjoy the timeless beverage may debate away on the proper level of ‘cold’, those who craft it are occupied with temperatures at the opposite end of the thermometer.
Pasteurization is a process that revolutionized the beer drinking world and its story begins in the mid-1800s. This was a time of great transition for France which was still reeling from the cost of the Napoleonic Wars and leaned hard into industrialization to boost its economy. In particular, France sought to rapidly expand the exportation of alcohol, one of its most prized industries.
During the 1850s, however, France began to suffer some of the unintended consequences of this decision: namely that mass-produced product was often held in storage for weeks or possibly even months at a time before arriving at its destination. This resulted in massive amounts of French alcohol spoiling on the shelves while it awaited shipment and as shipments of the spoiled product were delivered around the world the once indisputable reputation of French alcohol began to plummet. This was especially problematic for beer, which could last about a month before going sour.
Louis Pasteur, a scientist at the cutting edge of microbial research, came to suspect that the culprit was the continued fermentation caused by bacteria and soon discovered that by heating the product to between 131-140°F (55-60°C) he could dramatically extend the shelf life of both beer and wine. Thus the process was named “Pasteurization” and is arguably one of the main contributors to the growth of the beer industry worldwide as it now became a viable export.
Today the pasteurization process has remained mostly unchanged, but while it’s simple on the surface it has been honed to incredible precision in order to balance the time and temperature necessary to destroy the offending bacteria while not also destroying the flavor. For certain craft beers, the difference of a minute or a degree could mean the difference being bottled and going down the drain.
It’s thanks to the endless experimentation of craft brewers and the extreme precision of their measurement tools like those created at MadgeTech that we have such a diverse selection at our local store. Better that we’re spoiled instead of the beer.
For more information about MadgeTech data loggers for beer pasteurization, call us at (603) 456-2011 or email [email protected].