Modern Tech Insights In The Technology Used In Dealcoholization
Have you ever wondered about the technology used in dealcoholization?
In the ever-evolving landscape of modern technology, innovation knows no bounds. One area that has seen remarkable advancements is dealcoholization.
This cutting-edge technology has sparked a revolution in the beverage industry, catering to a growing demand for non-alcoholic alternatives that maintain the flavors and sensory experiences of their alcoholic counterparts.
The synergy between science and consumer preference has led to fascinating insights. It affected and changed the way we approach our favorite beverages.
In this article, we delve into the technology used in dealcoholization to learn how it altered people’s drinking habits and preferences.
Dealcoholizationis a process used to remove or reduce the alcohol content in beverages, particularly alcoholic beverages.
There are several methods of dealcoholization, and the choice of method depends on the type of beverage and the desired level of alcohol removal.
Moreover, the technology used in dealcoholization has contributed to the improvement of the dealcoholization process.
Several technologies are employed to achieve dealcoholization, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Here are some of the key technologies used in dealcoholization:
Distillation is a traditional method for separating alcohol from other components in a liquid mixture.
In dealcoholization, the alcoholic beverage is heated, and the vaporized alcohol is collected and condensed, leaving behind the non-alcoholic components.
While effective, distillation can alter the flavor and aroma of the beverage due to the high temperatures involved.
2. Reverse Osmosis
Reverse osmosis is a membrane-based separation technique.
In dealcoholization, the beverage is forced through a semipermeable membrane that allows water and alcohol to pass through while retaining larger molecules.
The separated alcohol and water can then be further processed.
This dealcoholization method is known for preserving the flavor of the beverage better than distillation.
In addition, based on a 2018 study published by the journal Foods and republished by Swiss journal publisher MDPI on its website, when compared to distillation, reverse osmosis “requires less energy.”
3. Vacuum Distillation
This technology used in dealcoholization is a variation of distillation that occurs under reduced pressure (vacuum).
Lowering the pressure allows alcohol to evaporate at lower temperatures, reducing the potential for flavor loss.
Vacuum distillation is often used in conjunction with traditional distillation methods to minimize flavor alteration.
4. Spinning Cone Column
The spinning cone column is a type of distillation equipment that operates at lower temperatures and under vacuum conditions.
It uses rotating cones to disperse the liquid into a thin film, increasing the surface area for alcohol to evaporate.
This technology used in dealcoholization is known for preserving the aroma and flavor of the beverage.
Not only that, based on a 2022 study that appears in the journal Molecules and republished by MDPI, spinning cone column distillation can remedy smoke taint.
Smoke taint refers to undesirable smoky or burnt flavors and aromas that can be imparted to grapes and, subsequently, the resulting wine when grapes are exposed to smoke or ash from wildfires or controlled burns.
5. Freeze Distillation
Freeze distillation involves cooling the beverage to very low temperatures, causing the water and other components to freeze while the alcohol remains liquid.
The liquid alcohol is then separated from the ice, effectively increasing the alcohol content.
This dealcoholization method is more commonly used for cider and applejack production.
6. Supercritical Fluid Extraction
Supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2) is used to selectively extract alcohol from the beverage at specific pressure and temperature conditions.
This method is known for its ability to preserve the aroma and flavor of the beverage while removing the alcohol.
7. Membrane Filtration
Membrane filtration methods include these two:
This technology used in dealcoholization involves passing the beverage through specialized membranes with specific pore sizes to separate alcohol and water from the other components.
These methods are gentle on the beverage and help retain its original flavor.
8. Heat Evaporation
This method involves gently heating the beverage to evaporate the alcohol, which is then condensed and separated.
Heat evaporation is a slower process but can be effective at preserving the flavor profile of the beverage.
9. Osmotic Distillation
Osmotic distillation is a combination of distillation and osmosis.
The beverage is separated from alcohol through a semipermeable membrane using differences in concentration. This technology used in dealcoholization can be gentler on the product’s characteristics.
A study published by Journal of Food Science and Technology in 2020 stated that:
OD [osmotic distillation] is a perfectly suitable process to produce low-alcohol beer.- “Influence of the Dealcoholization by Osmotic Distillation on the Sensory Properties of Different Beer Types” (2020)
Moreover, osmotic distillation doesn’t affect the aroma of the beer.
Pervaporation is a membrane-based process where a selective membrane allows the preferential passage of alcohol vapor over water vapor.
This dealcoholization technologyis used to dehydrate alcoholic beverages effectively.
11. Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) Technology
The prepared alcoholic beverage is introduced into a PEF treatment chamber. This chamber contains a pair of electrodes, between which the liquid flows.
Through those electrodes, high-voltage, short-duration electrical pulses are applied to the liquid. These pulses typically last for microseconds to milliseconds.
The treated alcoholic beverage will then be subjected to a separation process (e.g., distillation or filtration), which takes advantage of the increased permeability of the cells.
In the separation process, the alcohol content from the beverage will be extracted, leaving behind an alcohol-free or reduced-alcohol product.
Advancements in technology have played a significant role in improving the process of dealcoholizationof wine and beer.
Below are some of the contributions of the technology used in dealcoholization:
a. Advanced Separation Techniques
Technology has led to the development of more sophisticated separation techniques, such as:
- membrane filtration
- reverse osmosis
These methods allow for more precise control over the alcohol removal process. Technology has made them more efficient at separating alcohol from the beverage.
b. Real-time Monitoring and Control
Modern sensors and monitoring systems allow for real-time monitoring of various parameters during the dealcoholization process.
This ensures that the alcohol removal is consistent.
The technology used in dealcoholization also guarantees that the desired alcohol level is achieved without negatively affecting the taste and aroma of the product.
c. Improved Heat Management
Precise temperature control and heat management are crucial during dealcoholization.
Managing the temperature and pressure conditions are critical for maintaining the sensory qualities of the beverage.
These technologies help in the said management:
- vacuum technology
- advanced heat exchangers
- computerized control systems
d. Reduced Energy Consumption
Energy efficiency has improved with the use of more advanced technology.
This means that dealcoholization processes can be carried out with lower energy consumption, reducing production costs and environmental impact.
e. Enhanced Sensory Evaluation
Technology has also improved the sensory evaluation of dealcoholized wine and beer.
Analytical instruments can precisely analyze the volatile compounds responsible for flavor and aroma. This information can guide the process to ensure that the final product retains the desired characteristics.
Two of the analytical instruments used regarding the technology used in dealcoholization are:
- gas chromatographs (separate and analyze the components of a gaseous or volatile liquid sample)
- mass spectrometers (identify and quantify the chemical composition of substances)
f. Innovation in Flavor Modification
Some advanced technologies are focused on modifying the flavor of dealcoholized beverages to closely mimic the original alcoholic versions.
For example, there are techniques to add back some of the aroma and flavor compounds that are lost during alcohol removal, enhancing the overall sensory experience.
g. Quality Control
Automation and robotics have been implemented in quality control processes, ensuring that only high-quality products reach consumers.
From desired standards, these systems can identify:
h. Scaling Up Production
Technology has enabled the scaling up of dealcoholization processes, making it feasible for large-scale production.
This is essential for meeting the growing demand for alcohol-free or low-alcohol beverages.
i. Sustainable Practices
Technology also contributes to sustainability in the dealcoholization process.
It allows for the recovery and reuse of some of the byproducts, reducing waste and environmental impact.
The advancements in the technology used in dealcoholization have improved the removal of alcohol from wine and beer.
They make the dealcoholization process:
- more efficient
- more precise
- more cost-effective
The great thing about it? They do so while maintaining the sensory qualities that consumers expect from these beverages.
According to Integris Health, a health care system in Oklahoma, dealcoholized wine is good for the health because it contains:
- fewer calories
Phytochemicals help in managing certain neurological disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
Compared to a regular wine, a dealcoholized wine has - thanks to the technology used in dealcoholization - “65 to 75 percent fewer calories.”
Per NBC News, below are five dealcoholized wines recommended by wine experts:
- Fre’s Premium Red Blend
- Non-Alcoholic Cabernet Sauvignon by Joyus
- Leitz Eins Zwei’s Zero Chardonnay
- Prima Pave’s Blanc De Blancs
- Non-Alcoholic Bubbly Red Can by Surely
In a September 2021 article by Everyday Health, Kerry Benson, a registered dietician (RD) and licensed dietitian/nutritionist (LDN), said that dealcoholized beerhelps beer drinkers to enjoy them but without worrying about their health.
Benson, who is also the author of Mocktail Party: 75 Plant-Based Non-Alcoholic Recipes for Every Occasion (2021), added:
By removing the alcohol, you’re taking out a compound that is toxic and that increases the risk of chronic disease.- Kerry Benson, RD, LDN
The technology used in dealcoholization lowers the health risk involved when consuming beer.
The article also mentioned that according to the World Health Organization (WHO), approximately 3 million cases of alcohol-related deaths occur annually across the world.
According to StartUs Insights, an Austrian business intelligence company, below are five trends in the alcohol industryin 2023:
a. “Big Data & Analytics”
Alcoholic beverage companies now deal with data science and technology. They use big data and analytics to:
- improve quality
- increase production
- look into market trends
- collect information from the supply chain
Good examples of startups in the alcohol industry that are into big data and analytics are:
- AmygdaLaunch (U.S.)
- SipScience (U.S.)
b. “eCommerce Integration”
The COVID-19 pandemic compelled wholesalers and retailers of alcoholic beverages to sell online. Transactions through online marketplaces increased during the pandemic.
People have since continued to buy online post-pandemic as manufacturers further explore online direct selling.
Startups in the alcohol industry that are into eCommerce include:
- CellarsMarket (Australia)
- Tipple (Ireland)
c. “Smart Distilleries”
What makes today’s distilleries - the factories producing alcoholic drinks - “smart?” They automate the process by employing the following technologies:
- digital twins
- machine learning
- IoT (Internet of Things)
Startups in the alcohol industry that help smart distilleries include:
- BevSense (U.S.)
- Flowsight (Germany)
d. “Social Media Engagement”
Alcoholic beverage companies utilize various social media platforms to market and promote their brands.
They also hire influencers and use AI (artificial intelligence) chatbots - computer programs designed to simulate human conversation through text or voice interactions - to reach out to consumers.
Startups in the alcohol industry that are into social media engagement include:
- OpenBar (Italy)
- Somm Says (U.S.)
e. “Sustainable Spirits”
More and more companies work on minimizing their carbon footprint. Aside from recyclable bottles, the paper used in their packaging is made from recycled materials.
Carbon footprint, by the way, is a measure of the total amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other compounds released into the atmosphere because of human activities, which contributes to global warming.
Startups in the alcohol industry that are into sustainable spirits include:
- Two Trees Distilling (U.S.)
- Wheyward Spirit (U.S.)
As previously mentioned, the technology used in dealcoholization gives chance to beer and wine drinkers to savor them, albeit in moderation, despite an existing health condition.
This health condition (e.g., heart and liver disease) prevents them from drinking regular beer/wine because of the alcohol content.
So, their only recourse is to quit drinking for good or to treat themselves once in a while to a glass of non-alcoholic beverages.
Other reasons, as pointed out by Spiritless, an online shop for non-alcoholic spirits, include:
- to avoid getting a hangover
- to pay less for your alcohol consumption
- to help lose weight (remember, they have fewer calories?)
The term “non-alcoholic” and “dealcoholized” are synonymous to each other.
A dealcoholized beverage refers to a former regular beer or wine whose alcohol content has been reduced or totally removed.
A non-alcoholic beer or wine either contains zero percent alcohol (e.g., Heineken 0.0) or only a small percentage of alcohol (e.g., Surely Sparkling Brut).
Sparkling Brut by Surely is labeled as a non-alcoholic sparkling wine, but don’t let the term “non-alcoholic: confuse you. For this particular wine, alcohol is still present but only less than 0.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).
The “0.0” in Heineken’s non-alcoholic beer means that it’s a 100-percent alcohol-free beer (containing 0.0 percent alcohol).
Always check the packaging because the beer’s/wine’s ABV is indicated there.
The technology used in dealcoholization opened many doors: a variety of non-alcoholic beverages and opportunities to consume them by people with different health goals and conditions.
As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that the dealcoholization process will become even more sophisticated and sustainable.
The modern tech insights and breakthroughs surrounding its art and the technology used in dealcoholization will continue to reshape the way we enjoy our drinks and rethink our drinking choices.