Posted September 17, 2013
Here at Boulevard Brewing Company, quality assurance and quality control are key elements in our brewing philosophy. To this end, we’ve recently made some changes to the way we handle some of our barrel aged and “flavor infused” beers when preparing them for packaging. Any time you move beer from the comfortable confines of a sanitary fermentation vessel and expose it to the environment that exists in an oak barrel, the likelihood of the development of unintended flavors increases. Make no mistake, we exercise great caution during these transfers, but the simple fact is that oak barrels “breathe” and are not impervious to whatever conditions might be present in our barrel aging space. Beers infused with flavor by steeping cocoa nibs or freshly roasted coffee in the finished beer are also at risk for development of “off flavors.”
Beginning with this year’s run of Bourbon Barrel Quad, we commissioned a flash pasteurizer used to stabilize the beer before packaging. Of all the methods of pasteurization, flash pasteurization is heralded as being the best regarding preserving the quality and integrity of the beer. Here’s how it works: Beer is siphoned from the barrels into a holding tank. Once the holding tank is full, beer is pumped through the pasteurizing heat exchanger where it’s heated to around 162 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature is high enough to take care of any microorganisms that may have found their way in without damaging the flavor or altering the color of the beer. Once pasteurized, the mixture of flavors and nuances decided upon during the blending session are locked in, ensuring the beer that you drink is representative of our intentions at the time of packaging.
It’s important to note that not all beers will be pasteurized at Boulevard, only beers that see time in barrels or are infused with flavor after fermentation. These beers will still be bottle conditioned and are still “live” beers. Love Child beers, or any sour offerings, will not be run through the pasteurizer. It’s been said that the best brewers make the best use of the best technology to make the best beer. That’s certainly our intention as we strive to innovate, experiment, and brew high quality, consistent beers.
-by Jeremy Danner, Boulevard Brewer