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Towards High-Gravity Blending and Alcohol-Free Beer Flowing with the Times

Dr. Nagaraj Rao

Managing Director of Centec RRR Systems & Sensors Pvt. Ltd.  Dr. Stefan Gartner, Business Development Manager, Centec GmbH. Dr. Robert Koukol, Managing Director of Centec GmbH, Maintal, Germany


When it comes to high-quality process equipment and process sensors for the brewery, beverage, pharmaceutical and biotechnology industries, the name of the forty-year-old German company Centec with a strong presence in all continents figures prominently. Centec RRR is fully geared up to meet the changing demands of the Indian brewery industry – be it economical production using High Gravity Blending technology, manufacturing low-alcohol or alcohol-free quality beer, water deaeration systems or just providing highly accurate and reliable in-line and portable sensors.


As the name suggests, in this process at first a beer of high original gravity, between 13.5% and 19% of extract, is produced in the brewhouse. It is then fermented, processed, filtered and blended or diluted with deaerated water to create a beer of the desired gravity (concentration). Thus, for example, 100 hectolitres of a high gravity beer with 160 Plato when blended with deaerated water gives 146 hectolitres of the normal Lager or Pilsener beer with 110 Plato.

High Gravity Blending has become a standard procedure in many modern breweries for obvious reasons. It allows increased productivity while using the existing brew capacity. Further, it gives the manufacturer flexibility to produce different types of beers from one ‘mother’ beer. In addition, it allows the manufacturer to create beers of a constant quality, Plato content, CO2 content. There is considerable savings on energy consumed too; the deaerated water used for blending does not require to be heated up or cooled during fermentation and storage.


High Gravity Blending is followed by carbonation, in order to achieve the desired level of carbon dioxide in the beer. The Centec CarboBlender fulfills both these functions – namely, water blending and CO2 dosing. The Centec CarboBlender comes with special split arrangements, control valves, blending valves and the unique Vortex injector for CO2 injection, in order to achieve high flexibility and accuracy. The process control philosophy is supported by a water: HG beer ratio controller, magnetic flow meters for product volume, variable area flow transmitters for CO2 and the Centec BeerMonitor COMBITEC at the outlet of the skid. The Carbotec sensor measures inline CO2 content at the outlet of the system. The short measurement cycle ensures quick reaction by the PLC control.


The highly efficient Centec Vortex Injector reduces size of the carbonation unit and is very popular for injecting carbon dioxide quickly and uniformly into beer, wine, beverages and sparkling water. The Centec Vortex Injector is also used to inject oxygen or nitrogen for other applications. The Centec Vortex Injector comes with a uniquely designed hydrodynamic nozzle for the injection and dispersion of the carbon dioxide into the beer in a swirl chamber.

The efficiency of the Vortex technology minimizes the size of the carbonation units e.g. for adding pressurized carbon dioxide to beer, soft drinks and sparkling water.

The CarboBlender and the Vortex Injector have full CIP capability. After high gravity blending and carbonation, the product is usually stored in a buffer tank in order to compensate for variations in the filler. The CarboBlender is placed either between the filter and the BBTs, or after the BBTs and before the filler. In addition, the Centec PureConStar system is used for process control in CO2 recovery from fermentation for later use in carbonation.


The market for low-alcohol beer, alcohol-free beer and beer mixed with other beverages is growing worldwide. In Germany, the market volume has already crossed 5% for alcohol-free beer. Alcohol-free beer is low in calories, isotonic and rich in vitamins. One of the main reasons for higher acceptability of alcohol-free beer is the significant improvement in quality of the beer, thanks to the introduction of new production technologies, such as Centec’s DeAlcoTec.

The DeAlcoTec technology is based on the principle of vacuum evaporation and is applicable for beer, wine, cider and other alcoholic beverages and products. It is a fully-automated, gentle process with selective alcohol removal and very little loss of aroma. In the case of beer, after gentle pre-heating at a low temperature, CO2 is removed by degassing and the product is sent to the specially-designed evaporation column, where the beer vapour flowing in the counter-current direction to the product removes the alcohol. On top of the column, the first stage of aroma recovery is included. The resulting alcohol-free product is chilled and blended to the required gravity and subsequently carbonated. The alcohol-rich exhaust vapour is condensed and gives saleable alcohol of up to 90 vol% using an additional rectification column. The aroma obtained from the vapour and CO2 is recycled to the product by a recovery system. Each heating/cooling circuit has an individual conditioning loop for better temperature control during distillation, without loss of aroma.

Centec’s DeAlcoTec is available in capacities ranging from 200 hl to 20000 hl per hour. Sophisticated design ensures that CIP (Clean-in-Place) is needed every 1-2 weeks only. The DeAlcoTec requires high-precision Centec sensor technology for best results. The DeAlcoTec conserves the beer flavour better than any other technology and almost to the theoretically achievable level. Many breweries also offer services with their DeAlcoTec to remove alcohol from beer of other manufacturers.

Globally active Centec has become a reliable partner for breweries around the world. With over 40 years of experience in the development and production of extremely precise measuring instruments and fully automatic, skid-mounted systems, the company is specialised in measuring and controlling with high accuracy the critical properties during beer manufacturing – oxygen, carbon dioxide, gravity and concentration. Offering process systems for dealcoholisation of beer, blending, carbonation, deaerated water, inline and portable sensors is our focus for the Indian market.