The Importance of Oxygen Measurement in Beverages

Dissolved oxygen (DO) is both beneficial and harmful in brewing. It’s essential in the early stages of the process, but too much of it in the final stages can wreak havoc on the brewed product, leading to unpleasant flavors, aromas, and a shortened shelf life. So, given its varied roles in the brewing process, the importance of oxygen measurement in beverages can’t be understated.

Accurate measurements are essential at each stage of the process to ensure smooth operation and minimize hiccups.

Why is Dissolved Oxygen Important in Brewing?

DO plays a critical role in multiple phases of the brewing process. During the initial stages, oxygen serves as an essential element for yeast propagation and fermentation. Yeast requires oxygen to produce the fatty acids and sterols necessary for cell membrane integrity and replication. A healthy fermentation process produces better-tasting beverages with desirable aromas and flavors.

So, in the early phases, DO is a must-have. However, once fermentation wraps up, the presence of DO becomes problematic. Too much oxygen in fermented beverages can lead to oxidation, spoiling the beverage’s flavor, aroma, and shelf life.

Oxidation can cause stale flavors, giving the beverage a cardboard-like or papery taste, and may also reduce its freshness and clarity.

In case of Aluminium cans, the manufacturers usually have a maximum permissible DO level in the final product. This ensures integrity of the can as it is packaged and shipped around the world.

So, at each stage of the process, properly measuring DO is essential.

How is Dissolved Oxygen Measured?

DO can be measured in brewing in several ways. The first is with a DO meter for beer or other brewed beverages. The meter must be calibrated before use, but once it’s ready, it can accurately measure the amount of DO in the beverage.

The second type, in-line measurement and monitoring systems, is ideal for larger brewing operations. With these systems, brewers can continually monitor the DO in the beverage and adjust based on real-time feedback. Unlike DO meters for beer, in-line systems are preventive instead of reactive.

How Does Temperature Affect Dissolved Oxygen?

Temperature has a substantial impact on brewing processes, specifically the amount of DO in the beverage. Cooler liquids can generally dissolve more oxygen. As the beverage’s temperature climbs, the solubility of oxygen decreases, meaning it can’t hold as much DO.

This is a core consideration during the brewing process, especially during fermentation and storage. Throughout the process, brewers must account for temperature changes to ensure accurate DO measurements.  Many modern DO meters and systems automatically compensate for temperature variations to provide consistent readings regardless of fluctuations.

What Are Acceptable Levels of Dissolved Oxygen in Beer?

Acceptable levels of DO in beer vary depending on the stage of brewing. In the earlier stages, higher oxygen levels of around 8-10 parts per million are ideal to support healthy fermentation and yeast activity.

However, post-fermentation, levels should be less than 0.5 parts per million. Many breweries are able to achieve even lower DO levels in packaged products of less than 0.025 parts per million.

QuantiPerm’s Solution to Oxygen Concerns Post-Fermentation

Too much oxygen can prove disastrous for beverage quality, especially if it isn’t being consumed immediately or being packaged and shipped off-premise. This is where the De-Ox DeGas System comes in. It’s designed to reduce DO levels in any beer or beverage by packing all lines and equipment with deoxygenated water before switching beverage service.

While there is no real limit on how low a DO level can be achieved with the De-Ox Degas System, it usually comes down to operating parameters and process demands. DO levels as low as 0.01 parts per million are achievable under the right operating conditions.

With this approach, the beer or brewed beverage is never exposed to a high-oxygen environment. It gives the brewer full control on the brew process to improve product quality and consistency while also reducing beverage loss.

Recap: The Critical Role of Accurate Dissolved Oxygen Measurements in Brewing

Oxygen measurement is a core aspect of brewing that plays a vital role in the quality and longevity of the beverage. Understanding DO’s role, how to measure it accurately, the effects of temperature, and the acceptable levels in your finished beverage can help brewers produce superior beverages. With the right tools and techniques, getting control on the total package oxygen (TPO) levels and the headaches of inaccurate DO measurements can become a thing of the past.