Get control on TPO(Total Packaged Oxygen)
It is not a new revelation that Oxygen can have negative effects on beer quality due to its oxidative properties. That’s why beverage manufacturing facilities and brewers make every effort to minimize DO (dissolved oxygen) levels in their beverage. Here are a few reasons why oxygen is considered undesirable for any beverage, but especially detrimental for beer.
Flavor Stability: Oxygen can react with various components in beer, leading to the oxidation of delicate flavor compounds. This can result in off-flavors such as a cardboard-like taste, a stale or papery aroma, or a loss of hop aroma and flavor. Oxygen can also accelerate the breakdown of hop-derived compounds, leading to a loss of the beer’s desired hop characteristics.
Shelf Life: Oxygen can shorten the shelf life of beer by causing the degradation of flavor and aroma compounds over time. It can promote the development of stale flavors, resulting in a beer that tastes old or past its prime.
Haze Formation: Oxygen exposure can contribute to the formation of haze in beer. Haze refers to the cloudiness or turbidity that may appear in beer due to the presence of certain proteins and polyphenols. Oxidation reactions can lead to the polymerization of these compounds, causing haze to develop and affecting the beer’s appearance.
Color Changes: Oxidation can also cause beer to undergo color changes. Lightstruck flavors, commonly known as “skunked” flavors, can arise when beer is exposed to oxygen and ultraviolet light, leading to a chemical reaction that alters the beer’s color and produces off-flavors.
To maintain the quality and freshness of beer, brewers take measures to minimize oxygen exposure during the brewing process, packaging, and storage. They use techniques such as purging tanks and bottles with carbon dioxide, employing oxygen-impermeable packaging materials, and minimizing headspace in containers to reduce the contact between beer and oxygen.
QuantiPerm’s xFlowDeGas Degassing Systems
The system use an electronic flow control system in combination with our ultra-high efficiency fine bubble injectors for near-100% mass transfer efficiency. Input your process volume and your desired purge gas ratio level, and xFlowDeGas will accurately inject just the right amount of sweep gas and under vacuum (optional) remove up to 99.95% of dissolved gas levels in your process water or beverage formulations resulting in low DO levels. This completely eliminates gas wastage and preserves the product flavor and foam character that you work so hard to achieve!
Oxygen can also have negative effects on other beverages besides beer. Here are a few examples:
- Wine: Oxygen exposure can significantly impact the quality of wine. While controlled exposure to oxygen during aging can enhance the flavors and aromas of some wines, excessive exposure can lead to oxidation and spoilage. Oxidized wine can have a flat or dull flavor, with diminished fruitiness and increased nutty or sherry-like characteristics. It can also result in the loss of vibrant colors and the development of a brownish hue.
- Fruit Juices: Oxygen can cause enzymatic browning in fruit juices, leading to a loss of freshness, discoloration, and changes in flavor. The oxidation of certain compounds in fruit juices can result in off-flavors and a reduction in nutritional value.
- Carbonated Soft Drinks: Oxygen exposure can negatively affect carbonated soft drinks, especially those that rely on carbonation for their characteristic fizz. Oxygen can cause carbonation to dissipate more rapidly, resulting in a flat or less effervescent drink.
- Coffee: Oxygen can lead to the oxidation of coffee beans, which can degrade the flavor and aroma of the brewed coffee. Oxidized coffee can have a stale or cardboard-like taste, and the desirable aromatic compounds can be diminished.
- Spirits: While spirits generally have a longer shelf life and are less prone to oxidation compared to beer or wine, excessive exposure to oxygen can still impact their quality. Oxygen can cause changes in aroma, flavor, and color, leading to a loss of complexity and degradation of desirable characteristics.
In the production and storage of these beverages, similar measures to those used in beer brewing are taken to minimize oxygen exposure. These include the use of oxygen-impermeable packaging, filling containers to reduce headspace, and implementing processes to minimize oxygen contact during production and storage.
How much oxygen does it take to make a beer go stale? Or what DO level is acceptable? It could depend on the beer. Typically, even a few hundred parts per billion (or PPB) – as in, one bubble in a big fish tank – can cause detectable staling that might show up later in the beer’s shelf life. However, thanks to advances in brewing technology, there isn’t usually a lot of oxygen in beer, so losses are relatively small.
Oxidation is a very fast process. A light, American-style pilsner can react with oxygen very rapidly, even at ideal, cold-beer temperatures. Beer will deplete half the oxygen in it every week! However, if the beer is kept cold, no noticeable stale character will develop even after many months of storage. This is the reason why beer at your local brewpub usually tastes better. Drink local!
All said, generally beer that is brewery fresh is the best. The prowess of modern brewing and packaging technologies has made it possible to move bottles, cans and kegs far and wide and still insure that the customer gets to enjoy a quality beer.
Stale beer won’t make anyone sick. But it can hurt a brewer’s reputation. In today’s competitive craft beer world, it is suicidal to distribute products without appropriate oxygen control throughout the brewing and packaging processes.
Investing in instrumentation that helps with reducing dissolved oxygen (DO) levels to pack/flush process equipment and packaging systems to minimize product oxygen exposure risk is an investment that pays for itself. At QuantiPerm, we deliver this performance at a fraction of the cost compared to alternatives like thermal-vacuum desorption technologies (high energy cost, scaling) or the expensive but fragile membrane technology that require a lot of TLC.
Don’t let uncontrolled DO/TPO (dissolved oxygen/total package oxygen) levels threaten the quality of your product that you work so hard to produce! Call or email us to learn more about our xFlowDeGas systems!