Looking forward to summer yet! It’s already hot as anything in certain areas of the country. And, when it’s hot like that, nothing beats the heat like a cool, crisp beverage.

Whether they’re out on the boat or out on the town, people turn to hard seltzers as the perfect complement to their fun under the sun. Hard seltzers burst onto the scene just a couple of years ago. And, since then, the number of people enjoying them continues to grow every year.

But do you ever wonder what goes into making your favorite hard seltzer? There’s a lot that happens before that slim can winds up in your hand. Pasteurization of your favorite hard seltzer is an important part of that process.

Today, we’re going to dive further into the pasteurization process and why it’s so important. After reading this article, you’ll appreciate that next ice-cold sip of seltzer just a little bit more.

There’s a lot of information to learn, so read on!

Explaining the Pasteurization Process

So, what exactly is pasteurization? And why is it so important to your hard seltzers? 

Pasteurization is a process that dates back to the late 1800s. The process comes from France and a scientist by the name of Louis Pasteur is its inventor. Unbelievably, we’re more familiar with the process than we think.

Does your family drink milk? If so, congratulations! You’re familiar with pasteurization.

All milk is pasteurized before it hits the shelves. This helps to remove any impurities and bacteria. Ultimately, the process makes milk safe for us to consume.

The pasteurization process has evolved with modern technology. Today, there are multiple pasteurization methods. Two of the most popular methods are heat, high-pressure (HHP) and low temperature, fleeting time (LTST). 

If a company is selling food or beverage products, the odds are good that they’re sending them through some sort of pasteurization process before they hit the shelves.

Benefits of Pasteurization

If there are so many companies putting their foods and beverages through Pasteurization, it has to be for a reason. A whole industry sector has formed around the pasteurization of food and beverages. This is because companies realize the importance of running their products through the process before they hit shelves.

Let’s take a look at why the process is so important. And, what benefits it provides to your favorite hard seltzers.

Longer Shelf Stability

Raw food products, including seltzers, can contain tiny organisms known as microbes. This is especially true in seltzers because they are derived from a product known as malt.

Without getting too technical, malt is a natural product. It’s created from the combination of sugar, yeast, and some sort of grain. These products combine to create the natural fermentation process.

Microbes are natural byproducts of the fermentation process. Pasteur realized that these could be removed via the pasteurization process. The result is that you have a long time to enjoy your favorite hard seltzers before they go bad.

Preventing Can Damage

Another reason for the pasteurization process is to prevent damage to hard seltzer cans. You might be wondering how pasteurization prevents damage to a metal can. It goes back to some of the ingredients we mentioned earlier.

Yeast can leave traces behind when it’s used in the fermentation process. If any of that yeast remains in your hard seltzer can, it can begin to feed off of the sugar in the product and create carbon dioxide. You might be able to figure out what happens next.

The carbon dioxide in the can continues to expand. The result is that you’re left with cans that are damaged and/or bulging when they’re delivered to your local grocery store.

The pasteurization process helps to deactivate any leftover traces of yeast. Once the yeast is deactivated, no carbon dioxide can be created within the seltzer can or bottle. 

The Seltzer Pasteurizing Process

Now, we know how the pasteurization process works. But how are seltzers pasteurized?

The oldest and most reliable method of pasteurization is the heat method. This process requires hard seltzers to be heated to the right temperature for the right amount of time. This is the only way to prevent bacteria and microbe growth.

This will ensure that your hard seltzer product reaches the optimal flavor profile and shelf life.

If you purchase any pasteurizing equipment from PRO, we will run a test batch of products through the equipment. After testing, we will be able to give you the correct temperature and time necessary to properly pasteurize your hard seltzers.

Popular Hard Seltzers

Over the past few years, the hard seltzer market has evolved before our eyes. It went from only a few brands on the market to now having dozens of hard seltzer brands and flavors to choose from. Even the major beverage distributors have gotten on the “hard seltzer” bandwagon.

If you drink hard seltzers, you probably have some of your favorite flavors picked out already. But you may be surprised at some of the flavors that are gaining in popularity.

One of the biggest trends is the growth of wine-flavored seltzers. Customers can purchase seltzers that are rosé flavored. You can also find seltzers that are flavored with the taste of other popular red and white wines.

The seltzer trend that people are most familiar with is the fruit-flavored hard seltzers. Most major brands carry a lime, lemon, or grapefruit variety of the beverage. You can even find interesting combinations like blackberry-lime if you look hard enough.

Consumers are also beginning to see major seltzer companies offer “holiday” or “summer” packs of hard seltzers. These special edition 12-packs contain flavors that are unique to the season.

Bottoms Up

We hope that now you understand what goes into bringing hard seltzers to your local grocery store. Without the pasteurization process, it would be almost impossible for you and your friends to enjoy your favorite beverage.

It wouldn’t be safe to drink. And, even if it was, most of the cans would burst before hitting the shelves.

If you have any more questions about the proper pasteurization equipment for your brewing operation, contact PRO today. Our friendly and knowledgeable staff is always happy to help.

Edward A. Michalski Bio  

Ed Michalski started his career in the beverage industry by designing stainless steel, higher flow, spray headers for Pabst Brewing. Along with the header design he also developed a process to produce the new headers.   

Ed, along with his brother David, formed PRO Engineering/Manufacturing, Inc. 

Based on what they learned by re-designing and refurbishing other manufacturers’ pasteurizers, Ed and PRO started to offer the pasteurizer marketplace superior new pasteurizers, specifically tunnel pasteurizers and batch pasteurizers

PRO Engineering/Manufacturing has been designing and manufacturing great pasteurizers for over four decades. 

PRO Engineering and Manufacturing was established in 1977 by Ed and Dave Michalski as a steel fabrication shop. For more than 40 years, PRO Engineering and Manufacturing, Inc. has been delivering solutions for beverage product shelf stability and consumption safety. As leading innovators in post-fill pasteurization, our skilled team offers the best in high-quality pasteurization equipment.

Phone: 414-362-1500 | Email: [email protected]