Beer is a beverage that frequently appears in our daily social gatherings and family dinners. Especially now with the improvement of people’s living standards, beer comes in various colors and flavors. Common colors of beer include yellow, black, and brown. Let’s systematically analyze the main sources of beer color brewed using small beer equipment:
Firstly, the main source of beer color is derived from the brewing process, which includes the extraction of color from malt in the raw materials, color formation during boiling, color changes during packaging sterilization and foaming. Additionally, some colored substances may disappear during fermentation and filtration. This can be expressed as follows: the final color of beer = color from raw materials + color from boiling + color from foaming + color from sterilization process – color from fermentation – color from filtration.
Secondly, the formation factors of colored substances in the beer production process are mainly related to the leaching and formation conditions of pigments. These pigments are derived from the dissolution and oxidative polymerization of polyphenols present in malt and hops. By controlling the process conditions, the production of melanoids is reduced, resulting in a glossy appearance of the beer.
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1. The variety of barley used to make malt and the malting process directly affect the color. For example, if the soaked wheat has a high moisture content, if the leaf buds grow excessively, if the air humidity is high during the baking period, or if the baking temperature is too high leading to burning, a large amount of melanin will form. Barley contains more polyphenols, resulting in darker-colored malt.
Malt with high solubility has a high content of low molecular sugars and amino acids. During germination, protein and starch in barley break down into soluble amino acids and sugars, which provide more components for the Maillard reaction and accelerate the leaching of pigment substances. The color of malt is the primary factor determining the color of beer. Generally, the color of wort and beer can be adjusted by modifying the color of malt and using different raw material ratio schemes, assuming the production process remains relatively constant.
2. Hops factor: If hops are stored for too long or have oxidized, excessive amounts of phenolic acids, catechins, anthocyanins, and other substances will cause bitterness and deepen the color of the beer. Good hops are yellow-green, while aged hops turn brown or red due to oxidation. Tannins and iron salts in hops are blue-black, turning red after oxidation, which increases the beer’s color. Using varying amounts and addition times of hops will affect the beer’s color to some extent.
3. The influence of brewing water factors on the leaching of colored substances: High carbonate content in the water will increase the color of the mash and the wort. If the pH of the brewing water is too high or if the water is too hard, it will enhance the leaching of pigment substances and excessive dissolution of polyphenols. Therefore, the water should be softened and pH adjusted during use to ensure the pH of the final wort is between 5.2-5.5.
In summary, there isn’t a single source that solely affects the color of beer. We should pay attention to the proportion of brewing raw materials and their usage during the brewing process.