The market for beer-based mixed drinks have strongly increased in recent years. Beer-based mixed drinks, in particular, find a high acceptance in different consumer groups. Innovative beverages on the basis of beer, give the brewer a great chance to selectively address a modern and unconventional consumer group and conquer new markets. Fruity additives to beer have a long tradition, mainly in Belgium and northern France. There you can find, for example, Kriek (dark beer fermented with sour cherries), pêche (with peach), framboise (with raspberry), cassis (with cranberries), banana, strawberry, pineapple, mirabelle.
Beer-based mixed drinks have long been established in gastronomy and represent a rapidly growing segment for ‘ready drinks’ available in cans and bottles. A young, ‘trendy’ audience is selectively targeted for these products where the pack- aging also has an important influence on the taste value of a drink. However, there are only a few limitations to the variety of packing and taste. Beer-based mixed drinks have a great potential due to this variety of possibilities for product diver- sification. The basis is always beer, which is mixed with, for example, lemonade, cola, fruit juices or other additives. The drinks can be alcoholic or non-alcoholic, with one or more additives, with or without functional ingredients, isotonic, containing juice, clear or turbid, with mineral additions, with one or more flavour added, or sweetened with sugar or artificial sweetener. Beer-based mixed drinks can also be produced using all kinds of beers. Thus, there are numerous variations possible and the formulation concept is very versatile. Newer products contain flavours such as lemon, orange, grapefruit or pomegranate. Whether peach or cassis, cherry or lemon, raspberry, caffeine, guava or mineral – there are hardly any limits to the imagination. The traditionally flavoured beers with lemonade and cola still continue to dominate the beer-based mixed drinks market.
Development of Beer-Based Mixed Drinks
Beer-based mixed drink are generally composed of the following constituents:
- Food acids (citric acid)
- Flavour (base note and possible top note).
- Colouring/caramel colour.
- Turbidity constituent.
The overall impression of the beer-based mixed drink should be harmonized. The basic beer component already has a significant influence on the taste, colour, alcoholic content and physical-chemical stability of the beverage. Accordingly, the soft drink component in the formulation needs to be adjusted individually and specifically to the beer used. This requires that the beer is produced with a constant quality. Thus, there must not be any serious fluctuation in the beer parameters.
Sensory Assessment of Beer-Based Mixed Drinks
Besides the physico-chemical investigation, sensory assessments play also a major role in beer-based mixed drinks. Generally, it is suggested to talk to following survey criteria into account .
- Harmony between the beer and fruity taste
- Flavour impression
- Sweet/sour/bitterness ratio
- Foam formation and foam stability (beer dependent)
Beer-based mixed drinks are generally composed of two independent kinds of beverages. During an assessment it thus needs to be considered that the single components are evaluated without any flaws. In addition to the classical off-flavours in beer, such as diacetyl, dimethylsulfide, lightstruck and oxidation flavours, the off-flavours also need to be known for the soft drink component. Flavour, fruit flavours, sweet/sour ratio, body, flavour development and off-flavours need to be considered. The most important attributes for the evaluation of the nonalcoholic components are:
- Typical in taste and colour
- Intrusive or missing flavour
- Too much or missing sweetness (palate)
- Too much or missing acid (harmony with beer/stability)
- Light-struck flavour/oxidation flavour
- Other off-flavour notes.
Microbiology of Beer-Based Mixed Drinks
Beer-based mixed drinks need to be examined more extensively than beer. Micro- organisms that do not present a threat in beer alone can be of importance in this case. Since the production consists primarily of adding and mixing, and takes place in the syrup area, pressure tank and filling area, it is particularly important to look out for secondary infections here.
Yeasts that have no opportunity to grow in the nearly end-fermented beer can find very good growth medium in the sugar-containing soft drink fraction and also in the finished mixed drink. An excellent medium consisting of car- bohydrates and amino acids is available. Thus, a pasteurization step is needed. In badly cleaned niches, lactic acid bacteria can adapt to the new medium possessing a lower pH than beer and this presents a great risk. In this case it is important to maintain hygiene and cleanliness. Due to carbonization, aerobic microorganisms have hardly any chance to grow even in beer-based mixed drinks.
Different microbiological risk potentials arise in the ready drink depending on the beverage formulation:
- Beer + sugar + acid + essence. Due to the sugar, very high sensitivity towards yeast, especially at pH above 3.5. Thus, pasteurization!
- Beer + fruit juice + sugar/artificial sweetener. Fruit juice is an ideal growth medium for microorganisms. Thus, the ready drink needs to undergo sterilization.
- Beer + artificial sweetener + acid + essence. Without any fermentable carbohydrates only lactic acid bacteria play a role in this medium. Thus, keep appropriate high hygiene standards.
Generally, a microbiological control step is advisable for the production of beer- based mixed drinks. Attention should be paid to microbiological belonging to the following categories:
- Obligate (e.g. Lactobacillus, Pediococcus, Megasphaera)
- Potential (e.g. Lactobacillus, Lactococcus, Leuconostoc)
- Indirect (e.g. Enterobacter)
- Indicator organisms (e.g. Klebsiella, Acetobacter, Gluconobacter)
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