AB InBev develops completely new technique for brewing beer


The world’s largest brewer, Leuven-based AB InBev, has found a way to avoid boiling wort while still maintaining flavour, which will go a long way to reaching its ambitious sustainability goals

Lower energy costs: check

AB InBev has developed a technique to brew beer that significantly lowers the temperature required to produce gas bubbles and therefore saves an enormous amount of energy. The brewing giant, based in Leuven, has announced that it will share the patent of the technique with small brewers.

AB InBev, the largest brewer in the world, makes Stella Artois, Jupiler and Leffe, as well as some 40 international labels, including Budweiser, Corona and Beck’s. Last month, the company announced ambitious new sustainability goals, including a 25% total reduction of CO2 emissions across its numerous breweries around the world. The innovative new technique developed will go some way towards that goal.

In beer brewing, the boiling process takes place before fermentation. Many brewers use steam generators or boilers to boil the beer wort in large kettles. So to brew the amount of beer produced by AB InBev every year – 45 billion litres – requires a huge amount of water and electricity.

The bubbles produced by boiling have much to do with the taste of the beer. “Boiling and those gas bubbles are the sacred cow of the brewing process,” said David De Schutter, AB InBev’s director of research and development (pictured). “Every brewer uses a boiling process. We were already so efficient at that that only out-of-the-box thinking could raise the bar even higher.”

The new technique sees less heat applied and gas blown into the brewing kettles, creating bubbles that have the same effect on the wort as heat-produced bubbles. So even though the wort does not reach the boiling point, the taste remains the same.

‘Cheers to that’

AB InBev has patented the process but is offering the patent free of charge to small brewers. Large brewers must buy the patent, but AB InBev pledges to invest all proceeds of the fees back into sustainable research and development.

“AB InBev’s development shows that solid innovation delivers returns at so many levels,” said Philippe Muyters, Flemish minister of the economy and innovation. “It is further proof that our industries are concerning themselves with questions relating to sustainability, energy and climate change. That is good for everyone, including the planet and the economy. And sharing this knowledge with other breweries can considerably strengthen our rich beer culture. I say cheers to that.”