Brewing beer is one of the biggest drivers of the Polish economy. Poland was the third-largest beer producer in Europe in 2018, according to the data published by Eurostat. Breweries located in Poland produced 40 million hectolitres of beer in 2018. It means that every tenth bottle of beer in the European Union comes from Poland. Moreover, Poland is the fourth largest consumer of beer in Europe, after the leaders: the Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.
Dr Andrzej Wesołowski, Engineer, of the Department of Mechanics and Fundamentals of Machine Construction at the Faculty of Technical Sciences of the UWM explains: “This is why the quality of beer matters. But how to test it in an objective manner? Not every beer drinker is an expert and connoisseur, and even if they were, their opinion would be subjective and unreliable.” He has found a method for such testing: with ultrasound. To do this, he constructed a laboratory device for non-invasive beer assessment. It consists of a beer container. There is an ultrasound source on the one side and a receiver on the other. The distance between them is known exactly. Dr Wesołowski calculates the ultrasound velocity from the time that it takes the ultrasound to travel through the container and its dimensions.
Dr Wesołowski examined three types of beer: corporate-produced: Heineken, Tatra, Tyskie and Warka; craft beer: Rycerz and Warmińskie Rewolucje, and home-made: Pszeniczny lager, Colorado IPA and Irlandzkie Czerwone.
‘My measurements revealed a certain regularity: ultrasound travelled at the same velocity through beer of the same group. They could be grouped easily. The corporate-produced beer which I examined had very similar characteristics, which differed from that of the craft beer, whose characteristics were similar within that group. This phenomenon helps to establish whether the label claim of the beer belonging to a specific quality group is true.
However, home-made beer could not be systematised in any way’, explains Dr Wesołowski.
After constructing a laboratory device, Dr Wesołowski constructed a portable one – small and handy, which can be used in any conditions. This device can be the basis for work on a prototype of an industrial meter. Who could use it?
“Not beer drinkers, because it will be expensive; after all, why should they use one? Maybe beer traders and producers to test beer”, ponders Dr Wesołowski. “In my opinion, it should be indispensable in all services and institutions which test food quality. At the moment, they don’t have an objective and simple beer quality meter, which is essential in professional control”.
Dr Wesołowski is now at an advanced stage of work on construction of a similar device for testing the quality of honey, which is among the most often falsified products. He has already made such a device for testing olive oil, whose fake versions are sold in greater amounts than the genuine product.