What Are Enzymes in Beer?
The enzymes necessary for the conversion process are all present in malt. The malting process produces enzymes. For brewers, we need to focus on two main enzymes in beer: alpha-amylase and beta-amylase.
Alpha-amylase breaks down large, complex, insoluble starch particles into smaller soluble particles for use by beta-amylase. It is active in the hot mash and converts starch into soluble sugars at temperatures ranging from 145 °F to 158 °F. Remember that the temperature range is crucial because as you reach higher temperatures, the denaturation process increases and the enzymes are deactivated within 5 minutes. Adding the grains to hotter “strike” water to compensate for the decrease in temperature can also cause issues. Even a few seconds of exposure to heat can affect enzyme activity, so make sure to lower the temperature as soon as possible.
Beta-amylase is another enzyme in the mash that breaks down starch and produces soluble sugars. After alpha-amylase creates smaller soluble particles, beta-amylase generates most of the fermentable sugars by breaking down starch into maltose, glucose, and maltotriose. These enzymes contribute to a lighter body and higher alcohol content and are most active at temperatures of 131 °F to 149 °F. As temperatures approach 149 °F, these enzymes work very quickly but also become denatured. In summary, if the mash is kept within the beta-amylase range, a higher proportion of the soluble sugars will be maltose, making them easier to ferment.
What Is Mashing? What Is Its Function?
Mashing, which means “making sugar,” involves enzymes that convert starch into sugars and dextrins during the mashing process. The mashing of grain starch into fermentable sugars and non-fermentable dextrins forms the basis for wort production, a sweet solution that is later fermented into beer. By using various hydrolytic enzymes present in malt, under suitable conditions (temperature, pH value, time), the insoluble macromolecular compounds in malt and adjuncts are broken down into soluble low molecular substances. This breakdown process is called mashing.
The purpose of mashing is to break down and extract the raw materials so that the soluble compounds in the raw materials are dissolved as much as possible, and the insoluble substances become soluble under the action of enzymes to be dissolved out. This allows for the obtainment of a certain amount of fermentable sugar, which serves as yeast nutrients and contributes to beer flavors.