Having closed two kiselguhr filtration lines, the Plzen Brewery currently uses two membrane filtration lines with a total capacity of 1,200 hl of beer per hour.
“Beer produced through membrane filtration has a better sensorial stability; it preserves its fresh flavour for a longer time. When kieselguhr filtration is used, beer cannot be prevented from getting into contact with oxygen which has an adverse effect on the beer’s flavour stability. This is the key difference from membrane filtration and has a negligible influence on the quality of beer,” says Vaclav Berka, Plzensky Prazdroj’s Senior Trade Brewer who, with his colleagues, has been assuring beer quality for many years. “Membrane filtration is highly efficient equipment that utilises technical progress to contribute to a long-term, stable beer quality and, at the same time, can be employed in the Czech beer brewing process without reservations,” adds Vaclav Berka.
Competitive Edge in Beer Exports
In 2008, Plzensky Prazdroj exported almost 880,000 hl of beer, a 4% increase from 2007. Beer brewed in Plzeň is exported to more than 50 countries, including distant destinations in the southern hemisphere. “Beer is carefully filtered through a membrane and packaged with almost no contact with oxygen. This prevents beer from getting stale. Beer stays fresh longer and can be exported to countries such as Australia, the United States of America, Honduras and Mozambique. Membrane filtration provides us with a competitive edge against our Czech competitors, especially in exports,” says Pavel Semík, Plant Manager of the Plzensky Prazdroj Brewery.
Being Environmentally Friendly
Besides improved flavour stability, membrane filtration also contributes to savings from reduced kieselguhr consumption and is environmentally friendly. Much less waste is generated, and, the waste contains nothing but brewing yeast. Kieselguhr waste from kieselguhr filtration lines is ploughed in soil to aerate recultivated landscapes. However, it is a complex process that cannot be used in all circumstances or conditions.
*Membrane filtration is a process during which solid particles are separated from a liquid through porous membranes or filters. The particles are sorted according to their size and shape while using pressure and special membranes with pores of different sizes. All existing membrane filtration methods (reverse osmosis, nanofiltration, ultrafiltration, series microfiltration with membranes with increasing pore size) have the same purpose – to separate or concentrate particles contained in a liquid.
Compared to kieselguhr filtration, membrane filtration reduces the absorption of oxygen in beer during filtration. In addition, the membranes do not contain ferrous ions (unlike kieselguhr) that catalyse oxidation processes in beer.
Notes for editors:
- With total sales of 10.7 million hectolitres in the calendar year 2008 (including licensed production abroad) and exports to more than 50 countries around the world, Plzensky Prazdroj, a. s., is a major beer producer in the region and the largest exporter of Czech beer.
- Plzensky Prazdroj, a. s. is a member of the global group SABMiller plc. Pilsner Urquell is the international flagship of the SABMiller brand portfolio.
- SABMiller plc is one of the world’s largest brewers, with brewing interests or distribution agreements in over 60 countries across six continents. The SABMiller brand portfolio consists of international brands such as Miller Genuine Draft, Peroni Nastro Azzurro and Pilsner Urquell, as well as almost 200 other successful regional and national brands.
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