Discussion on Krausening And Carbonation of Beer

The American Brewer   Sept. 1935

A Discussion On Kraeusening And Carbonating Beer
Wm. F. Traudt, President, Taber Pump Co., Buffalo, N.Y.

In spite of the numerous practical demonstrations of many years that carbonated beer can be produced with the same degree of full-bodiness (“Vollmundigkeit”) and foam-stability (“Schaumstand”) as kraeusened beer there are still those who are inclined to kraeusen their beer exclusively instead of carbonating it. Some try to compromise between the two and partly kraeusen the beer and then partly carbonate it. There is no need at any time to partly kraeusen the beer before carbonating it. Neither is it necessary to brew beer to a heavier balling when practicing carbonating than when practicing kraeusening.

A beer which will hold its foam when kraeusened, will hold it when carbonated. The foam keeping quality in either case is governed by the composition of the beer and its temperature, and not by the means with which it is charged with gas. This holds true whether the beer is charged by kraeusening or by carbonating.

Those who favor the kraeusening method as against carbonating usually believe that greater mellowness and palate-fullness and foam-stability are obtained. In their opinion this cannot be realized when carbonating the beer exclusively. Such opinions probably result from making comparison between beers produced in different plants. That is, a beer produced by the kraeusening process in one plant may evidence more favorable characteristics than a beer produced in another plant where carbonation is practiced exclusively. In the opinion of the observer he may consider one beer more favorably than the other. If it happens to be the kraeusened beer, he may attribute it to kraeusening. Such a comparison, of course, is un-scientific and will lead to erroneous conclusions.

It must be recognized that even before the carbonating process was introduced into brewery practice all beers were kraeusened. There were beers which also lacked full-bodiedness, foam-holding capacity and other favorable characteristics by which beer is judged. Therefore, one is forced to recognize that beers lacking in the fine qualities which generally are made the basis of comparison, were also produced by the kraeusening process.

Since the introduction of carbonating practice comparisons made between beers from various breweries also indicate differences in character. Some carbonated beers are more full-bodied and have greater foam-stability than others. Therefore, it is logical to reason that by either process, whether exclusively kraeusened or carbonated, beers are produced with considerable variation in character.

Experience has indicated that beers of fine character can and are produced either by exclusive carbonation or kraeusening. Even a connoisseur cannot determine by tasting whether a beer was produced by the kraeusening method of carbonated unless the kraeusened beer was not sufficiently lagered and thus had a pronounced yeast taste. That would not necessarily be conclusive evidence.

The question, therefore, naturally arises as to why such differences of opinion should still exist. One practical explanation may be found in the experience observed during the period when carbonating practice was coming into more general use. When a brewery which had been kraeusening their beer exclusively decided to introduce a carbonating process they would proceed to carbonate and finish their beer without making certain compensations for the difference in unfermented extract which was present in their kraeusened beer but absent when the same beer was carbonated and no kraeusening used. In such instances the carbonated beer may have lacked somewhat in full-bodied-ness as compared with their previously kraeusened beer.

The explanation of the foregoing lies in the fact that there is a certain amount of fermentable and non-fermentable extract added to the storage beer through the kraeusen. That part of the extract which ordinarily ferments under favorable temperature conditions in the fermenting cellar, does not completely ferment when introduced into the beer as kraeusen. This is due to the low temperature in the lager cellar under which the kraeusen must work. The beer in storage therefore is identical in composition up to the time it is ready for kraeusening or carbonating. If this storage beer is kraeusened, the finished product is different to the extent that the additional extract introduced through kraeusening (but which does not ferment completely in the storage cellar) is present in the kraeusened beer. When the same beer is carbonated instead of kraeusened this additional extract is not present, a difference which is reflected in its taste. A slight change in mashing temperature will compensate for the difference.

When changing the exclusive kraeusening process to an exclusive carbonating process, the time and temperature during mashing operation should be so modified that the ratio of non-fermentable sugars to fermentable sugars is increased slightly. The final gravity and composition of the carbonated beer will then be substantially the same as the previously kraeusened beer. The full-bodiedness and other characteristics will be present in the carbonated beer substantially the same as in the beer when it was kraeusened. If the foregoing facts are recognized and put into practice, a carbonated beer never need suffer from lack of full-bodiedness. If the mash is thoroughly peptonized at correct temperatures there will be no lack of foam stability.

Two advantages of carbonating are that time and storage cellar capacity are saved as compared with the longer lagering required for the kraeusening process. Kraeusened beer thus necessitates a higher inventory of beer on hand. Furthermore, it is advisable to carbonate beer because its stability of keeping qualities is improved. This is particularly important to shippers of draught beer.

Carbonating is not offered for the purpose of making better tasting beers than kraeusened beers. Experienced brewers can point to beers that are superior in taste, foam-stability and aroma whether they have been kraeusened or carbonated. It repeatedly has been observed that men who are qualified as beer connoisseurs cannot state with any degree of certainty whether a beer has been kraeusened or carbonated. They may have liked for their own individual taste certain beers better than others so far as flavor is concerned, but that is an entirely different matter.

There are some communities which demand heavier hopping of beers than other localities. There are those who prefer the Bavarian type of character to that of the Pilsener, and vice versa. These are matters of taste and not of quality, and have no bearing at all as to whether the beer is carbonated or kraeusened.

Carbonating with natural fermentation-gas permits the production of a beer of equal quality to that of kraeusened beef in every respect and it effects a saving in storage capacity and thus a quicker capital turnover. This obviously is a very important commercial aspect which can be reflected in greater profits.

It hardly is necessary to say that the gas for carbonating should be collected in the brewery because it has the fine, aromatic character which adds to the zest of the finished product. Un-aromatic, artificial gas adds an unnecessary expense in the production of beer, and no aroma.

The foregoing covers the subject under discussion in a practical manner. It might be added that carbonating beer exclusively in no way restricts a brewer from developing any character or taste he desires in his product. If he chooses to carry on a secondary fermentation, which is frequently practiced in warm storage for the development of certain characteristics in the production of ale, he can proceed in exactly the same manner as he has previously. After this period of maturing is finished the beverage then should be carbonated in the regular manner.

After a very intimate experience in the brewing industry of over thirty years, the writer is fully appreciative of the fact that the best basic brewing materials such as malt, cereals and hops, as well as fine culture yeast, together with mechanical equipment can only be combined in the production of high grade beer or ale through the skill of the master-brewer resulting from his knowledge and experience In the art and science of brewing practice. There is no substitute for this skill. Therefore, behind every fine glass of beer stands the genius of the master-brewer, which is not unlike the captain of a ship responsible for successful navigation.

It might not be out of place to refer here to a situation under which the brewing industry is suffering today. Perfectly splendid beers are produced in the brewery and mishandled by certain types of dispensers who know nothing about the handling of the product nor the cleanliness which it Is necessary to maintain with regard to the dispenser’s apparatus (coil, etc.). It is obvious that when a beer, whether kraeusened or carbonated is finished at the equivalent bunging pressure of five or six pounds at a temperature of 32- 34° F. it cannot be dispensed satisfactorily when the barrel is subjected to a temperature in the warm basement of a dispenser where it may reach 60° F. or more. Brewers are naturally disturbed by this condition. Brew-masters are frequently unjustly blamed for outside conditions which are entirely beyond their control. The remedy lies in the gradual education of the dispensers of beers in the correct methods of handling. The time may be approaching when a dispenser will be equipped with the necessary refrigerating facilities which will permit a few barrels of beer to be kept on his premises cold and tapped in that condition. The simplicity of modern mechanical refrigeration is such that dispensers will see that it is to their own advantage so to equip themselves.

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