The world of beverage development is fascinating and fast-paced. It can also be complex and confusing. Mastering the art and a science that results in a successful beverage starts with both curiosity and hard work. Here is a brief overview of some of the terms that you may run across on your beverage development journey.
Alcohol by volume (ABV) measures the alcohol content of distilled spirits, wine, beer, and other alcoholic beverages. It tells you what portion of the total volume of liquid is alcohol. In some cases, alcohol by weight (ABW) is listed in place of ABV. You can multiply ABW by 1.25 to convert to ABV.
A document that lays out the procedure for making a batch of a beverage. The manufacturer starts with the beverage formula and scales it for mass production using the batch sheet. There is no set format for a batch sheet, but it contains specific instructions for adding, mixing, and processing the ingredients of a beverage to fit a certain tank volume. A batch sheet helps ensure that a consistent product is created each time it is produced.
A unit of measurement for dissolved content in a liquid solution. It was originally created by measuring the percentage (by weight) of sucrose (sugar) in a sucrose and water solution. One-degree Brix is equal to one gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution. When producing a fermented beverage, Brix measurements help ensure that the proper range of sugar content is maintained when batching the beverage so that the final product meets the specifications provided in the beverage formula.
Often, a beverage will start with a kitchen recipe that specifies ingredients for only five or ten gallons using commonly found ingredients. The commercial formula (commercial formulation) scales the ingredients and process to create up to 1,000 gallons of the beverage. A commercial formula is developed by a formulation specialist or food chemist using commercially viable ingredients and techniques to make the formula scalable. In turn, this allows the manufacturer to create a more effective batch sheet.
Commercially Viable Ingredients
When turning a recipe into a formula for mass production, you need to consider the ability to source the ingredient in the amounts and within the cost and timeframe constraints that you will need them. Scaling your recipe using commercially viable ingredients ensures that your end product can be successfully reproduced and brought to market.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) is a colorless, odorless, non-combustible gas typically used to carbonate soft drinks and soda water. The bubbles in these drinks come from the high-pressure addition of carbon dioxide to water as the drink is being made and packaged. Opening the container of a carbonated beverage releases pressure and allows the carbon dioxide to bubble up through the liquid. Beverages can be carbonated at different levels, measured in volumes of CO2 per liquid volume. Levels can reach up to 5.0 volumes, but most beverages range from 1.5 to 3.9 volumes.
The Flavor Ingredient Data Sheet (FIDS) is a document completed by flavor manufacturers to disclose information on certain ingredients that have usage rate limitations and could affect the labeling of an alcoholic beverage with the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). A FIDS is required when your commercial formula uses a flavor consisting of multiple ingredients and must be provided with your formula when submitting an alcoholic beverage for approval by the TTB.
An organization housing food scientist and flavor chemists that specialize in creating flavors and formulation.
An acronym for Generally Recognized as Safe. This is the language used by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) to label certain ingredients or additives as safe for their intended use by experts. GRAS ingredients/additives are exempt from the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) which requires all non-GRAS ingredients to be approved by the FDA, which can be a long, time-consuming process.
This type of beverage testing involves the use of the human senses of taste, touch, sight, and smell to provide information about the acceptability of a beverage or an ingredient. Clues gathered by the senses, like an unusual smell, or inconsistent texture, can reveal issues with a product even before any other testing is conducted. Organoleptic Testing can be commonly referred to as a Sensory Analysis.
Certain beverages, depending on the type and how they are produced, will require the expertise of a process authority. A process authority is a person or entity that has been expertly trained in food-handling techniques, food-protection principles, personal hygiene and plant sanitation practices, pH controls and critical factors in acidification. The process authority helps to determine processing methods, measures, and analysis that ensure product safety and shelf-stability. A scheduled process is your commercial formulation and procedure, which has been review and edited by a recognized process authority and which must be followed exactly by the contract packer.
Physical and chemical methods used to extend the shelf life of beverages. Examples of preservation methods include thermal pasteurization, non-thermal pasteurization, and the use of potassium sorbate and sodium benzoate.
Ready-To-Drink (RTD) beverages are sold in a prepared form, ready for consumption. Ready-To-Drink options span categories including bottled or canned tea, coffee, energy drinks, smoothies, and cocktails, and are often sought after for the convenience they offer.
A product that is considered shelf-stable has been processed in a way that allows it to be stored on a shelf in a sealed container. Some beverages that would normally need to be refrigerated can be preserved and packaged with techniques, or preservation methods, that create and extend shelf life. Ensuring that beverages remain stable during the required shelf life is critical to their success in the market place. Shelf life is commonly estimated using either real-time stability tests or accelerated stability tests.
Each beverage has its own stockkeeping unit (SKU) assigned by the company that produces it. SKUs are used to track products in physical and online retail outlets, warehouses, and product fulfillment centers. SKUs also help shoppers compare characteristics of varying beverages in the same category. Online retailers often use SKU information to suggest related products during the online shopping experience.
The abbreviation used for TA (titratable acidity). TA is an approximate measure of the total acid in your finished beverage. It is usually expressed in units of grams per liter (g/L). Although they are often used interchangeably, titratable acidity and total acidity are not the same thing. Total acidity is a more accurate representation of acid concentration but is also more difficult to measure. Co-packers use titratable acidity measurements to meet the ranges provided within a beverage’s formula.
Immersing yourself in terms and industry insights from the beverage development world is an excellent way to ensure your beverage is a success. It’s also important to remember that you’re not alone. BevSource specializes in helping beverage entrepreneurs develop, produce, and deliver their beverage ideas to the world. Give us a call!