Heriot-Watt University - Articles and news items

High gravity brewing and distilling

Issue 4 2011  •  6 September 2011  •  Graham G. Stewart, GGStewart Associates and the International Centre of Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University

While the basic processes of malting, brewing and distilling were established long ago, it was in the late 19th century that the key scientific investigations commenced on beer and its production through the pioneering work of scientists such as Pasteur, Hansen, Sorenson, Brown and decades of subsequent research on process engineering, sensor technology, barley and yeast metabolism, hop chemistry and more. Beer brewing represents the quintessential fermentation process in terms of product quality control and efficient use of resources1.

Over the past 30 years, and longer, process optimisation and increased efficiencies have been priorities for many brewing and distilling companies2. Process intensification has become part of this endeavour and has focused on increased rates of fermentation and final attenuation, high quality yeast viability and vitality, decreased maturation (aging) times, more efficient stabilisation and filtration, enhanced beer quality and stability and high gravity brewing and distilling including reduced capital expenditure and a positive impact on process sustainability3.

Natural antimicrobials derived from the cultivated hop (Humulus lupulusL.)

Issue 3 2011  •  7 July 2011  •  Paul Hughes, School of Life Sciences, Heriot-Watt University

To many, consumers and non-consumers alike, there is an understanding that hops are an essential ingredient for the production of beer. However, the history of hop usage for beer production is not as venerable as beer production itself. The hop plant, Humulus lupulus L., was mentioned as early as the first century AD by Pliny the Elder in his prolific ‘Natural History’ (This 37-volume work is the only surviving example of the writings of Pliny the Elder, as he and all his other works perished during the Vesuvius eruption of August AD 79) as being a salad ingredient. However, it was only in the 12th Century that the value of hops for flavouring and preservation of beverages seems to have been recognised. Their use in beer is probably of German origin and hop gardens are often mentioned in German statutes of the 13th Century, when the land dedicated to hop growing must have slowly increased. To this day, Germany is one of the principal hop growing regions in the world.

High gravity brewing – the pros and cons

Issue 1 2007, Past issues  •  7 March 2007  •  Graham G Stewart, Professor of Brewing, The International Centre for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh

During the past few decades, process optimisation and increased efficiencies have become priorities for many brewing companies worldwide. High gravity brewing is one method to achieve these objectives.


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