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Abita tests pasteurizable beer in PET

Abita Brewery next year plans to commercialize beer in a one-way multilayer plastic bottle that’s pasteurizable. Until now, the plastic bottles typically used for beer didn’t have sufficient thermal resistance to withstand pasteurization, so brewers choosing to use plastic have had to rely on some form of cold filtering or flash pasteurization. But the availability of this new tunnel-pasteurizable bottle could make one-way plastic beer bottles a viable option for a lot more brewers. Abita Brewery, based in Abita Springs, LA, is a regional craft brewer.

Pw 16799 Abita

It plans to introduce 16-oz bottles of its top-selling “Amber”-brand beer early next year “for special events, arenas, and future Mardi Gras celebrations,” relates CFO Patrick Gernon. “This will be our first venture into plastic beer bottles. It lets us get into venues where we couldn’t previously.”

Constar, a subsidiary of Crown Cork & Seal (Philadelphia, PA), makes the new bottle, which it says withstands 35 “pasteurization units,” defined as the equivalent of 60°C (140°F) for one minute for beer. Constar incorporates its patented Oxbar™ oxygen scavenger layer between two heavier PET layers. The scavenger uses MXD-6 nylon and a catalyst that Constar says yields an oxygen transmission rate it describes as 0.5 microliters/bottle/ 24 hr. Constar co-injection molds preforms, and then stretch blow-molds them into bottles. Specialized injection-molding tooling from Kortec (Beverly, MA) plays a critical role.

The bottle’s base was modified to prevent it from “rolling out” when exposed to the high temperatures and elevated internal pressures common to pasteurization. Constar’s injection-molded polypropylene closure incorporates an ethylene vinyl acetate liner for additional carbon dioxide and oxygen barrier, and includes an oxygen scavenger, though not Oxbar. A wraparound paper body label completes the package. (JB)

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