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Food & Beverage - alcohol



Learn more about alcoholic strength determination and how to perform the analysis by automated steam distillation. Discover VELP expertise and the complete range of solutions for your alcohol testing.
The determination of the alcoholic strength is a pivotal parameter with regards to the regulatory control and labeling of alcoholic beverages.

Sample treatment by distillation followed by density measurement by pycnometer or electronic density meter is the standard for the determination of alcoholic strength as stated by reference regulations such as COMMISSION REGULATION (EC)N° 2870/2000 and OIV Method - MA - AS312 - 01A in Europe or AOAC Distillation-Hydrometric method (AOAC 920.57) in the US.

The distillation step before the densimetric measurement is crucial as it separates volatile compounds and non-volatile substances that would lead to inaccurate results, as the conversion of density to alcoholic strength is performed based on tables using pure water-alcohol mixtures as a reference.

Steam distillation for alcohol testing

Steam distillation for alcohol testing
Traditional distillation with the measurement of the density is widely applied for the determination of alcoholic strength in alcoholic drinks.

Being time-consuming and requiring several manual operations, conventional distillation has recently made way for steam distillation, a fast procedure enabling manufacturers and food & beverage authorities to efficiently determine and control the alcoholic strength of beverages.

Steam distillation was found effective for alcoholic strength determination as with the carrier vapor, the distillable part of the sample is separated from the non-volatile residue. Steam flows expelling the alcohol from the sample in less than 10 minutes, a considerably shorter time compared to the traditional distillation process.

The distillate obtained is an ethanol-water mixture. Using a measurement of density by a density meter or pycnometer and expressing the results through the official tables, the alcoholic strength (ethanol content) is calculated.
  • As a general rule, distill your sample in 7-9 minutes
  • Use your density meter or pycnometer on the distillate to measure alcohol content, even on complex liquors

Top performing Distillation Units for fast and easy alcoholic content analysis

Top performing Distillation Units for fast and easy alcoholic content analysis
Developed for the Kjeldahl method, automated steam distillation instruments are ideal to perform alcoholic strength determination in beer, wine, spirits and liqueurs. Steam distillation units are always ready to use and guarantee a low cost for consumables per analysis as only distilled water is needed​​​​.

VELP UDK Distillation Units are perfect for performing alcoholic strength analysis, according to international regulations and TTB guidelines. With the UDK Series, it is possible to choose from a complete range of distillers able to address any laboratory requirements from few samples per day to unattended operations with autosampler.

All the models of the UDK Series feature the VELP patented Titanium Condenser designed for the most efficient thermal exchange and low water consumption and the most complete set of safety features to ensure maximum operator safety. Sensors monitor tube in place, safety doors and cooling water flow-rate.

The VELP Patented Steam Generator guarantees safe working conditions working without pressure:
  • Rapid pre-heating time
  • High performance and resistance
  • Maintenance-free

VELP expertise in alcoholic strength determination: download the application notes!

Explore all the UDK Series solutions and read the application notes on the determination of the alcoholic strength developed by our analytical department! 
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