The term “wort concentration” generally refers to the proportion of malt-derived wort (the liquid used in beer production) after the sugar process. The specific gravity of water is typically recorded as 1.000. If the malt in the wort undergoes enzymatic hydrolysis to produce fermentable or non-fermentable sugars, the wort will be denser than water, resulting in a specific gravity greater than 1. The wort concentration, often indicated as xxx ° or xxx °P on domestic beer labels, can be calculated using the formula: (specific gravity of wort – 1) × 1000/4. For example, if the specific gravity of the wort is 1.048, the calculated wort concentration would be 12 °P, which is the value you see on the wine label.
Alcohol content refers to the amount of alcohol present in the body after the final fermentation. It is commonly measured in volume percentage (%ABV) or labeled as alc/vol. Mass percentage (%ABW) is another less common method.
In general, higher initial wort concentrations result in higher alcohol content after fermentation. A rough conversion formula for estimating alcohol by volume is ABV = (initial wort concentration – wort concentration at the end of fermentation) × 0.524. However, this is just a rough estimate and is more suitable for homebrewing.
In simpler terms:
Original wort concentration refers to the sugar content of the wort. Malt, rice, starch, etc., undergo sugar processing (European beer only uses malt) to create the wort, which is then fermented into beer in a fermentation tank with the addition of yeast. The concentration of wort extract is expressed as °P (percentage by weight).
The beer’s degrees usually indicate the concentration of malt, not the alcohol content. The common beer degrees are 18, 16, 14, 12, 11, 10, and 8. In China, beers with degrees above 12 °P are less common, and the popular ones are mainly 11, 10, and 8. Foreign beers typically have degrees of 12 and 11, with fewer options below 10 and many varieties above 12, such as Bork bock beer with a degree of 16 or the monastery series of double and triple beers (made from highly concentrated malt) with degrees exceeding 20.
Higher wort concentrations lead to better nutritional value, delicate and long-lasting foam, a mellow and soft taste, and a longer storage period. Therefore, “original wort concentration” is a key reference for identifying beer.
Alcohol content is the result of yeast fermenting the wort and converting sugars into alcohol, carbon dioxide, and other ester alcohol nutrients. It is expressed as a percentage of the beer’s liquid, similar to the alcohol content of liquor (%ABV).
The relationship between malt concentration and alcohol content is generally as follows:
Low concentration: wort concentration of 6° to 8° (Brix hydrometer), with an alcohol content of about 2%. Suitable for making refreshing beverages, but it has poor stability and a shorter shelf life.
Medium concentration: wort concentration of 10° to 12°, with an alcohol content of around 3.5% to 4%. This is the main range for beer production in China.
High concentration: wort concentration of 14° to 20°, with an alcohol content of 5% to 10%.