Saturday, May 17, 2014

How to Pasteurize Your Beer and Why?

How to Pasteurize Your Beer and Why

Pasteurization was discovered by Louis Pasteur (1822-95), a French chemist and bacteriologist, who invented the process of heating food, milk, wine, etc., to kill most of the micro-organisms in it; distinguished from sterilization, which involves killing all of them. 

The process is to elevate the temperature of food, wine or beer for a period of time that is sufficient to destroy certain microorganisms, as those that can produce disease or cause spoilage or undesirable fermentation of food, without radically altering taste or quality. The general rule is to hold at 163°F to kill most organisms.

Why pasteurize and how does this apply to home brewing? If there is any microorganism present in the beer, along with the unfermented sugars remaining in the beer, it will spoil. The result is a beer that may gush when opened due to the over fermenting of sugars that beer yeast can't process. In addition, harsh off flavors will be produced that will ruin the beer.

There is always a risk that microorganisms live in your home or garage that can infect your beer. However, due to the process of cleaning and sterilization, along with the antiseptic qualities of hops, most beers will be fine. 

The application of pasteurization is important for those that send their beers to competitions. Yes it is true that many beers are fine to send to competition without pasteurization. However, if you're like me, and want to win. Why not take the extra step and pasteurize your beer before sending it? The reason I believe the extra step is worth the effort is that I've seen a lot of beers that went sour at our clubs beer competition.

With that said, here is the process of pasteurizing your beer:

1. Place your bottles in your boiler kettle and fill with water about 3/4 way up the bottles side.
2. Open one of the bottles and place a thermometer in the bottle to track the temperature.
3. Start the fire on high and track the temperature. Your goal is to reach 165°F.
4. Turn off the flame at about 163°F and allow the temp to rise to 165° F.
5. Remove the bottles from the boiling kettle and allow to cool.
6. Recap the open bottle. BTW: It will foam during the heating, but don't worry it will be fine.

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