“Use of microscopic pressurized shockwaves generated by controlled cavitation as a non-shear method for increased extraction of alpha acids and oils from hops.”
Did you get all that? Well, that’s the name of a seminar kicking up attention around the industry. The maestro is Santiago Gomez of Apotek Solutions LLC. He recently gave a lecture with that very name to about 150 brewing professionals at the Master Brewers Association of the Americas (MBAA) Annual Meeting in Jacksonville, Fla., in October. Gomez has raised a few eyebrows discussing his company’s latest innovation called ApoWave, which uses the futuristic-sounding ShockWave Power Reactor Technology (SPR) to increase the amount of alpha acids that get extracted from hops in the brewing process. The company claims that by controlling “cavitation” in the hopping process it can save brewers money.
Wait, what the hell is cavitation?
“Cavitation is the creation of a low pressure zone in a fluid that essentially vaporizes a small amount of the fluid creating small vapor bubbles — think low temperature flash boiling,” explained Doug Mancosky, VP of Hydro Dynamics, manufacturer of the ShockWave Power Reactor. “Think back to high school science when you pulled on the plunger of a syringe and created ‘boiling’ inside of it at room temperature. These low pressure zones are unstable and eventually the bubbles collapse releasing a shock wave as the energy it took to create them has to go somewhere — think conservation of energy. This process of bubble formation and collapse is the heart of cavitation.”
Ok. Think of cavitation as being very similar to ultrasound, except where ultrasound is initiated acoustically (sound), cavitation is initiated mechanically.
“For hops, we use these tremendous pressure fluctuations to push water/wort deep inside the hop particles, and then as they collapse, they are able to essentially suction out oils, acids and flavors.” Mancosky said. Check out this video to see it in action.
Apotek is a global manufacturer of specialized equipment for the food and beverage industry, looking to apply new and unique technologies to current process systems for cost reduction, product improvements or development of products that were not previously available due to process limitations. ApoWave is just such a technology, based on the SPR Cavitation Technology by Hydro Dynamics Inc. (HDI).
The SPR harnesses the normally destructive power of cavitation and controls it so its pressure fluctuations can be used for increased extraction. When the SPR technology is applied to the different processes within the brewhouse, combined with expertise in hop utilization, it allows brewing customers to produce bitter beers with 50 to 90 percent less bittering hops and 50 to 75 percent less aroma hops for dry hoping (according to Apotek). HDI has partnered with Apotek to market SPR technology to the hops industry.
To coincide with the presentation, the companies introduced a new slogan and marketing logo with the “Hop the ApoWave” campaign. The logo (shown above and complete in its awesomeness) plays off the hops, the SPR, Apotek’s name and (yes) waves. The new logo was placed on thousands of postcards for mailing to breweries along with clothing for employees and customers. The companies will be publicly announcing the places you can enjoy a cavitated beer shortly as commercial production with the technology begins at several locations.