Beerstone (Calcium Oxalate) – Definition & Detailed Explanation – Beer Technical Terms Glossary

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What is Beerstone (Calcium Oxalate)?

Beerstone, also known as calcium oxalate, is a hard, brownish deposit that forms on brewing equipment during the beer production process. It is a common issue in breweries and can negatively impact the quality of the beer if not properly managed. Beerstone is composed of calcium oxalate crystals, proteins, and other organic materials that accumulate on surfaces such as fermenters, tanks, and kegs.

How is Beerstone Formed in Brewing Equipment?

Beerstone is formed when calcium ions from the water used in brewing react with oxalate ions present in the beer. This reaction results in the formation of insoluble calcium oxalate crystals, which adhere to the surfaces of brewing equipment. Over time, these deposits can build up and create a thick layer of beerstone that is difficult to remove.

What are the Effects of Beerstone on Beer Quality?

Beerstone can have several negative effects on beer quality. Firstly, it can harbor bacteria and other microorganisms, leading to contamination of the beer and off-flavors. Additionally, beerstone can interfere with the heat transfer in brewing equipment, affecting the efficiency of the brewing process. It can also impact the appearance of the beer, causing cloudiness or sedimentation.

How is Beerstone Prevented in Brewing Equipment?

Preventing beerstone formation is crucial for maintaining the quality of beer. One way to prevent beerstone is by using water with low calcium and oxalate concentrations in the brewing process. Regular cleaning and sanitizing of brewing equipment can also help prevent the buildup of beerstone. Using acid-based cleaners and passivating stainless steel surfaces can further inhibit beerstone formation.

How is Beerstone Removed from Brewing Equipment?

Removing beerstone from brewing equipment requires a combination of mechanical and chemical methods. Mechanical methods, such as scrubbing or scraping, can help dislodge the deposits from the surfaces. Chemical cleaners, such as acid solutions or chelating agents, can dissolve the calcium oxalate crystals and facilitate their removal. It is important to follow manufacturer recommendations and safety guidelines when using cleaning agents to remove beerstone.

What are the Health and Safety Concerns Related to Beerstone?

There are several health and safety concerns related to beerstone in breweries. Firstly, the presence of bacteria and other microorganisms in beerstone can pose a risk of contamination and foodborne illness. Additionally, the use of chemical cleaners to remove beerstone can present hazards if not handled properly. It is important for brewery staff to wear appropriate personal protective equipment and follow safety protocols when dealing with beerstone removal. Regular monitoring and maintenance of brewing equipment can help mitigate these risks and ensure the production of high-quality beer.