EBC Color is a representation of the beer’s color, as intended by the craft brewer. In essence, the brewer is conveying the beer’s character to you through its color. However, EBC color goes beyond a simple description and adds subtle nuances to the message.
How does your “Red” beer compare to other reds? This is where the EBC Color value comes in. It takes you through a detailed process of measurements and calculations. For those who are not fond of math, there are charts available to help you develop your intuition.
What Does EBC Measure?
In the context of beer, EBC is a standard unit for measuring color. It represents how visually appealing your brewed or purchased beer looks.
EBC measures the changes in light properties before and after passing through the beer being tested. In this case, it refers to your favorite beer or homebrew.
ACE 3 Vessels Brewhouse 15HL/1500L
How Is EBC Calculated?
If you want to calculate the visual impact of your brew, here’s the math:
If you happen to have a spectrophotometer and understand the scientific method:
EBC = 25 times the Dilution Factor of the sample, multiplied by the Absorbance of light at 430 nanometers, in a 1 cm vial.
EBC = 25 x D x A430
There are also additional calculations for hazy beers and very dark beers, but they might be too complex.
If you have no idea what a spectrophotometer is, here’s a helpful tip:
You can first estimate the color using the Standard Reference Method (SRM) based on Malt Color Units.
Convert the SRM to EBC using the following formula:
EBC to SRM Formula
Converting from EBC to SRM is as simple as doubling the SRM value. Doubling is a general rule of thumb, but if you want a more precise calculation, you can use 1.97 times the SRM:
EBC = 1.97 x SRM
How to Increase EBC in Beer
You can enhance the visual appeal of your beer by making the following adjustments:
Selecting Malts: There is extensive information available on grains that produce specific wort colors. Once you have chosen your base malt, you can add specialty grains to achieve the desired EBC value.
Roasting: Roast the malts to your desired shade. Predicting the outcome is not an exact science, so experiment with different batches.
Regulating pH levels: Maintain your water’s pH level to prevent color loss at low pH levels. You can add calcium carbonate to maintain the target pH.
Brewing: Longer brewing times enhance the Maillard browning effect, which adds characteristic flavors found in golden bread crusts or seared steaks.
Fermenting: The yeast used during fermentation can also influence the beer’s color. Choose a yeast strain that aligns with your desired outcome.
Aging: The type of vessel used for aging your beer will impact its color. Consider using charred wood barrels, for example.
EBC Beer Chart
Below is a beer chart displaying EBC values and sample beers. Note that each beer has its own color range and can vary significantly.
3.9 to 6.0
|Straw||Pilseners, Weissbier or Weizen|
6.0 to 8.0
|Yellow||Czech Pilseners, English Blonde Ales|
10.0 to 12.0
|Gold||White IPAs, Belgian IPAs|
12.0 TO 18.0
|Amber||English Barleywine, Irish Red Ale.|
20.0 to 28.0
|Deep Amber||California Common, Vienna Lager|
28.0 to 34.0
34.0 to 36.0
|Deep Copper||Baltic Porters, Schwarzbier|
|Brown||Southern English Brown Ales, Brown Porters|
|Dark Brown||Robust Porters, Dry Stouts|
|Very Dark Brown||American Stouts, Russian Imperial Stouts|
|Black||Darker shades of Stouts|
What Can Go Wrong with Using Instruments?
There are several ways your readings can go wrong, as the process is extremely sensitive. Dark beers and cloudy beers require additional calculation adjustments. Adding fruit juice to your drink can also affect color subtleties. Additionally, make sure to clean your containers thoroughly, as dirt can affect the accuracy of your readings.
On a personal note, investing in color measuring instruments can be expensive, and you need some level of expertise to handle them. It is recommended that you rely on visual comparisons of well-documented beers until you have developed the necessary intuition and experience to take it to the next level.