April 15, 2022
GoLo Dealcoholization Technology: What Is It And Why Is It Needed?
Dealcoholization has been around for centuries, and BevZero has continually innovated with its GoLo Technology.
The concept of dealcoholization is a big idea, albeit not a new one. Since the beginning of our relationship with alcohol, humans have been trying to wrangle this intoxicating element and its place in fermented beverages. Whether this be for religious, cultural, or health reasons, or simply to alter how a beverage feels sensorially and is experienced by the consumer, dealcoholization has existed as a tool to make these decisions at will.
Historically, methods for dealcoholization have ranged from exceptionally simple to technologically advanced as our understanding and capacity for innovation has evolved. The earliest methods included blending water into the final product to bring alcohol levels down, blending finished wines of differing alcohol content to create an adjusted finished product, or use of heat as a means to evaporate alcohol out (as well as all the aromatic components, unfortunately). In 1908, vacuum distillation was introduced which allowed brewers and winemakers to heat the beverage at a lower temperature to achieve evaporation, however, this still resulted in a loss of volatile aromatics.
In 1748 Reverse Osmosis (RO) Filtration was pioneered for a number of uses, but it wasn’t until the 1980s that it was employed commercially to remove alcohol from fermented and distilled beverages. This use of RO technology allowed wine and beer makers avoid heating their product at all, instead passing it through a superfine filter that allowed water and alcohol molecules to pass through, but captured the flavor, color and tannin molecules to be reserved and blended back with the water that had then been distilled to remove the alcohol. However, in a field where every moment of physical interaction with the product introduces the risk of contamination, many craft wine and beer makers view this method as too much manipulation.
In the early 1990s, Spinning Cone Column (SCC) technology revolutionized the pursuit of dealcoholized beverages, using centrifugal force in conjunction with vacuum distillation to remove the volatile aromatic compounds. The remaining beverage is distilled at a higher temperature on a second pass to remove the alcohol. After this step, the aromatic distillate is added back to the dealcoholized product. The added benefit of this process is that the removed alcohol can be retained for other uses.
As the market for low and no alcoholic beverages has evolved and grown, so too has the technology.
GoLo was introduced to the industry by ConeTech—the company that originally developed the Spinning Cone Technology—who had adapted their original idea to create a single-step process that allows for dealcoholization down to <0.05% abv thanks to very low-temperature distillation (VLTD).
This evolutionary step in the dealcoholization process gave brewers, distillers, and winemakers the added flexibility of removing alcohol from their finished product in a single pass and at lower temperatures than they could achieve with the original SCC systems, preserving the subtleties of aromatics without the added manipulation of multiple passes through the cones.
With GoLo, the wine, beer, spirit, or cider is separated into three parts—spirit/alcohol, de-alc beverage, and essence—but in a single step, where the essence and the de-alc liquid are blended to create a final beverage and with less loss of product than any other method of dealcoholization.
Much like the SCC technology that preceded it, GoLo is a powerful tool for winemakers who want to wait to pick grapes when they are at optimal phenolic ripeness, but do not want the high alcohol the finished fermentation of these wines might produce. What GoLo offers is the additional control over the dealcoholization process, allowing craft producers an added level of comfort in knowing their product is being treated gently, with as little olfactory impact as possible.
The groundswell within the non-alcoholic sector continues, with more consumers seeking out alternatives to traditional wine, beer, and spirits. While this category has historically been overlooked, the gap in quality between non-alcoholic beverages and their alcoholic counterparts is closing fast, thanks in large part to the GoLo technology.