America has over 4,000 breweries. They make all sorts of different beers, but the fundamental science behind all that brewing is mostly the same. So while many brewers tinker with hops and yeast and barrel-aging and dry-hopping, a group of scientists in Italy set out to see if they could change the actual physical process of brewing.
Led by Lorenzo Albanese of the Institute of Biometeorology in Florence, a team of researchers recently submitted a paper that claims they’ve developed “a completely new brewing equipment and process” that can provide “significant advantages in terms of lowered capital cost, reduced production time, enhanced energy and production efficiency, food safety, while preserving beer organoleptic qualities.” This new process is possible thanks to a natural physical phenomenon known as cavitation.
If you’ve never heard of cavitation, don’t be alarmed. Unless you work in engineering or some other technical field, it’s probably never come up before. It’s definitely not a page you accidentally skimmed over in your homebrewing handbook. According to MIT Technology Review, cavitation is “the formation of small bubbles of vapor within a liquid and their subsequent collapse,” later described as “an extraordinary process” that can “dramatically change the physical and chemical environment in water.”