… Because you are going to drink it.” So the old saying goes. Austria is ranked second place after the Czech Republic in the list of nations which consume the most beer. In Austria 105 liters of beer are drunk per capita each year. With this amount of experience it should be possible to rely on Austrians to know which beer is the best – and that is the market leader “Gösser” beer brewed in Southern Austria.
To ensure excellent quality the brew masters at the Göss Brewery rely on highly accurate measuring technology: Comprehensive quality control by Anton Paar is used in the production process and the laboratory in order to ensure that only beer which meets the highest requirements is bottled.
The Göss Brewery in Göss, near Leoben, looks back on more than 150 years of history. The current market leader in Austria has always been a pioneer in new technologies: This includes the early adoption of a pasteurization process, use of digital density measurement, and the title of being the first CO2-neutral brewery in the world. In all this, however, the beer is always the main focus. It must be good, taste good, and be a refreshing beverage for all who drink it. But what makes a good beer? How is it made? And who decides what is good?
A master of his art
Andreas Werner knows a lot about beer. He has been the brew master at Göss Brewery, the largest brewery in Austria, for the last 15 years. He has been confronted with all of the parameters which describe beer since he started in his profession some 30 years ago. “In 1985 one of the very first instruments from Anton Paar for determining the original extract was in use at the Central Testing Laboratory for Austrian Breweries. It was as big as a dining table and measured both density and sound velocity,” Mr. Werner remembers. That was seen as a big step in the quality control at breweries. Later inline sensors became established for measurements during production. These were first used at the filter units.
With success – digital density measurement quickly became standard in beer production. “Ever since I began work in this branch, and that is over 30 years ago now, Anton Paar has been my constant companion. I didn’t need to get to know Anton Paar, it was just always there,” he explains. Andreas Werner is now also the brew master for the Puntigam, Schladming and Villach breweries, as well as for Göss Brewery. These are all part of the Brau Union Österreich AG concern. All these breweries use Anton Paar instruments.
An excursion into the world of beer quality
For Andreas Werner beer quality comprises two factors: Drinkability (how much you want to take another sip) and consistency. “Good quality is consistent quality. That is when I bottle the beer the customer expects month for month, year for year,” reports Werner. Both depend on parameters such as original extract, alcohol, oxygen (O2), and carbon dioxide (CO2).
The values a beer needs to have to make it popular is something the customer decides when purchasing. That a beer has the values which are required is the brew master’s job. He always has an eye on “his” beer because in the laboratory and throughout the whole production process the beer is measured and checked constantly. The Göss Brewery uses the modular PBA-B Generation M (Packaged Beverage Analyzer for Beer), two portable CboxQC™ At-line units for combined CO2 and O2 measurement at the production line and several Beer Monitors for process measurement of the alcohol content, original extract, and CO2. “The most important instrument here is the PBA-B,” explains Werner. “It is the reference instrument for quality control in the lab.” At the Göss Brewery 30 to 50 beer samples are analyzed each day with the PBA-B for the final product evaluation.
With this one measuring system it is possible to determine density, alcohol content, extract (original extract), CO2, and O2. That allows the brewery to save money and time in their routine measurements for final quality control. In addition, the Göss Brewery also uses the portable CboxQC™ At-line CO2 meter. “We mostly use these portable instruments for check measurements,” explains Werner, “for example in filtering, to verify deviations, and at the tanks, where there is otherwise no measuring point.”
Process monitoring as a strategic decision
Besides these routine checks the focus at Göss Brewery is clearly on monitoring the production. With the Beer Monitor from Anton Paar the beer is analyzed at several points throughout the production process: at the wort pipe, at the beer cooler pipe, at the filters, and before bottling. The reasons why the brewery has adopted this strategy is obvious to Andreas Werner: “If I have the production process under control then this results in quality.” Process monitoring is the key.
The benefit: The values which the beer should have are stored in the device. If the value measured by the process sensor deviates from these stored values because, for example, the CO₂ content in the tank before the bottle filler is too high then the brew master can take immediate action. The PBA-B device and the portable CboxQC™ At-line CO2 meter are used to undertake control measurements. “If there is a problem we can make a decision on the right course of action based on the figures, data, and facts,” explains Werner. This ensures high quality beer before the product is even in the bottle.
Reproducible and reliable
Monitoring the beer via measurements throughout the production process and via routine measurements in the laboratory has proved successful for the Göss Brewery according to Andreas Werner – as has the longstanding partnership with Anton Paar. “The most important things for us are the accuracy and reliability of the device,” explains the brew master. “The instruments from Anton Paar are accurate, provide reproducible measuring results, and have a long working life. That gives us peace of mind; we know we don’t have to measure a second time. We also profit from being close to the Anton Paar headquarters and benefit from the good service.”
Emphasis on sustainability
The longstanding relationship with Anton Paar and the focus on accuracy and quality are also part of the sustainable company philosophy of Göss Brewery. The brewery places great importance on decisions which are made with an eye to the future and which contribute to the long-term success of the company.
The most recent example of this pursuit of sustainability is the renovation work completed in 2015 which made Göss Brewery the first “green” brewery in the world. Raw materials such as hops and grain all come from the region. Due to a 1500 m² solar energy installation, a biogas plant, and the use of waste heat from the brewery and neighboring wood-processing companies, the beer brewed at Göss Brewery is CO2 neutral. In 2016 this commitment was honored by the EU with the “EU Sustainable Energy Award”.
Mr. Werner, we have a few questions.
… what is your favorite beer?
I like the “Märzenbier”. This is a beer with around 5 % alcohol and an original extract of 11.5 to 12. It is not too light, not too dark, and just bitter enough without being too bitter. That is the type of beer which most people in Austria like to drink. It makes up 80 % of our production volume.
… how do you dispense the perfect beer?
There are a lot of rules about this. Some are true and some are not. The beer barrel should be fresh and cool. You need a nice glass – not a coffee mug and not a schnapps glass, either. You need a nice beer glass. The glass should be clean. There should be no grease on it, for example fingerprints. Grease is the number one enemy of beer foam. Then you need to dispense the beer so that the glass is half-filled with beer and half-filled with beer foam. Then leave the glass to stand for around three minutes – and don’t get nervous. After this time, fill more beer until the head of foam shows slightly above the edge of the glass. The beer is now ready to drink.
… what does “beer culture” mean?
That depends on which country you are in. In Austria, Germany, and Switzerland, great importance is placed on the beer foam. The rest of the world is not as interested in beer foam. In England the opposite is true. There the lager often has no foam at all. I have even seen English beer drinkers complain if the glass is not filled to the brim with beer. People in Southern countries like their beer to be sparkling and refreshing. That is due to the climate. In Mexico there are beers which have a very mild taste and lots of carbon dioxide. They are served ice-cold and come in very small bottles because the beer gets warm quickly. As you can see, there are many truths about beer. That should perhaps encourage us not to take ourselves so seriously.
The Göss Brewery in Leoben, Austria
1010: Foundation of the abbey at Göss
1450: First mention of beer brewing in Göss
1860: Establishment of the Göss Brewery by Max Kober
1920s: Göss becomes one of the first breweries in Austria to use crown caps (invented in 1892 by William Painter). And: Göss becomes the first brewery to routinely use pasteurization for the whole production volume.
2015: Göss Brewery becomes CO2-neutral
Production volume: around 1 million hectoliters/year
Employees: 160 (in Göss), of which 65 work in the brewery
Process and quality control of beer from Anton Paar
The modular PBA-B beverage analyzing system (Packaged Beverage Analyzer Generation M for beer analysis): Measures density, alcohol, original extract, and CO2; optional measurement of O2, turbidity, pH value, and color
Beer Monitor: Highly accurate measurement of alcohol, original extract, and real extract (sugar content); optionally also: CO2 and O2, color
Portable CboxQC™ At-line CO₂ meter : Measures CO2 and O2
Portable DMA 35 density meter: Measures density and determines the extract content for monitoring the fermentation process
Sources: Göss Brewery’s brew master, Andreas Werner;
Brau Union Österreich AG: “Österreichischer Bierkulturbericht 2016” (Report on Austrian Beer Culture 2016);
http://www.goesser.at/von-damals-bis-heute (viewed on 21.12.2016);
https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kronkorken (viewed on 16.1.2016)