After successful commissioning and targeted optimization runs of the GEA AromaPlus dealcoholization unit in August and September this year, the privately-owned brewery Kaiserdom in Bamberg/Germany is looking forward to the sales launch of the new Kaiserdom Hefeweißbier 0.0% in November 2019. The innovative reverse osmosis unit of the GEA technology group convinces with the high quality and characteristic taste of the completely dealcoholized wheat beer.

Kaiserdom in Bamberg, founded in 1718, produces over 300,000 hectoliters of beer per year based on 300 years of brewing tradition and offers an extensive range of bottom-fermented and top-fermented beers of the highest quality. In addition to selling its products on the local and regional market, the Kaiserdom brewery has been actively exporting beer since 1978 and is now represented in over 60 countries on all 5 continents with its "Kaiserdom" brand. The high-performance private brewery from northern Bavaria has so far been represented on the alcohol-free market with its PROSTEL non-alcoholic beer in a 0.4 % alc. version for the domestic market and a 0.0 % alc. version for Muslim countries, especially in the Arab region; in addition, the portfolio includes a non-alcoholic wheat beer with 0.4 % alc.

With the new GEA dealcoholization unit, the company plans on producing 25,000 hl of dealcoholized beers in a first expansion stage and on decisively increasing its market share in line with the consumer trend towards a healthier lifestyle. As part of the consequent market launch, PROSTEL will be replaced by non-alcoholic Kaiserdom, and non-alcoholic Alt-Bamberg wheat beer by non-alcoholic Kaiserdom wheat beer. The main focus will be on the 0.0 % alc. versions, however, the "old" 0.4 % alc. version can still be produced with the new dealcoholization unit, if there is a demand for it in certain export countries.

Looking back, the leading trade fair BrauBeviale in 2016 was a groundbreaking event for Kaiserdom. GEA back then presented the new dealcoholization technology based on reverse osmosis using the unit installed in the brewery of the Andechs Monastery as a reference plant. The full-bodied character of the alcohol-free beer, the taste of which differs only subtly from the taste of its high-alcohol sibling, made a lasting impression. This was followed by intensive discussions and trials with Kaiserdom beers in the GEA Test Center in Karlsruhe to achieve the optimal result. "Previous 0.0 wheat beers usually had a very malty-sweet taste. Our new Kaiserdom wheat beer 0.0 tastes almost like the original and has retained its fruity note," says Jan Opper, Head of Technology at Kaiserdom.

Dealcoholization under pressure

Reverse osmosis works with filtration temperatures of approx. 10 to 15 °C, and thus the beer is not affected by thermal effects. The special thin-film membranes allow only water and alcohol to pass through. Ingredients that are important for the sensory characteristics – flavor, color, turbidity – are preserved. GEA's membrane filtration specialist Ralf Scheibner: "Thermal processes are undoubtedly very effective for removing ethanol from beer, but the loss of aroma was simply not acceptable to us. For GEA, reverse osmosis is clearly the best way to make a great, authentic beer with original flavors." And the brewmasters, who would like to do without sugar,wort, or other taste-enhancing ingredients after technical dealcoholization, couldn’t agree more.

Three phases for optimal aroma, color, and texture

Dealcoholization is a multi-stage process: In the first step, the pre-concentration, the traditionally brewed beer is fed from a BBT to the plant, where the volume is reduced. During this step, ethanol and water are pushed through the membranes, while the other ingredients remain on the beer side. In the second step, the so-called diafiltration, degassed brewing water is continuously added to the process in order to further wash out the remaining alcohol of the beer while maintaining the degree of concentration of the other ingredients. Diafiltration continues until the desired alcohol content is reached. In the third step, the dealcoholized and concentrated beer is re-diluted with deaerated brewing water to ensure that the required alcohol content is achieved. "In particular, the difference between the production of a 0.x % and a 0.0 % beer lies only in one adjustable process parameter of the GEA unit," Jan Opper enthuses.

GEA scores with first-class technology and eye-to-eye partnership

The resounding success of the tests conducted in the GEA Test Center was followed by the contract signing for the AromaPlus dealcoholization unit in February 2019, the installation in July, and the commissioning in August this year. "We are very satisfied with the plant's performance and GEA's prompt support. All deadlines were met, and our employees received optimal training from GEA’s experts. Right afterwards, the plant could be operated effectively and with high productivity without any problems," reports Felix Wörner, Managing Director of the Kaiserdom brewery. After further optimization runs, Kaiserdom is now looking forward to the market launch of the 0.0 % wheat beer and a Kellerbier with 0.0% alc. in November 2019.

Trade fair details: GEA at BrauBeviale in Nuremberg, November 12-14, 2019, GEA booth in hall 7/7-600

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