Beverage fermentation refers to the process by which a microbiological agent, typically fungi (e.g. Saccharomyces spp.) or bacteria (e.g. Lactobacillus spp.), convert a sugar-containing liquid into one which contains alcohol and acid products. Humans have been producing fermented beverages for millennia to prevent spoilage and enhance nutritional quality and flavor. At present, there is a huge diversity of fermented beverages available to consumers globally including mainstream beer, wines and spirits, and lower-alcohol products like kombucha and kefir. Other ancient fermented beverages such as chicha, busa, and palm wine are more localized. Despite the ancient origins of fermented beverages, modern-day production relies heavily on science, engineering, and technological know-how.
An expert in beverage fermentation should have sound knowledge of microbiology, biochemistry, fermenter design and operation, bioprocessing, and analytical chemistry. Typically, a beverage fermentation expert can help with the development of new beverages, as well as the optimization of existing ones. They can provide advice on the selection of yeast and other microorganisms, as well as the fermentation process and the use of additives. They can also help with troubleshooting any issues that arise during the fermentation process. Additionally, they can provide guidance on the storage and packaging of the finished product. Large-scale producers can afford the expensive quality programs required to ensure batch-to-batch consistency, but this can be a challenge for smaller operations. Therefore, an expert can also help with developing quality analysis programs and microbiology, analytical chemistry, and packaging material testing regimes. Assistance can also be offered with fermentation modeling, lab-scale assays, and new analytical method development.
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