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PATENT WATCH | Better Brewing Through Chemistry
The next time you have a particularly satisfying pint, you may want to thank the biochemists at Japan's Sapporo Breweries, which has patented a way to select better barley biochemically.1
Beer's qualities depend largely on two barley enzymes: b-amylase (BA), which hydrolyzes the starch molecule's penultimate linkage to produce maltose, and a-amylase (AA), which yields primarily glucose and other dextrans. "It's maltose that the brewer wants," explains Graham Stewart, director, International Center for Brewing and Distilling, Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, Scotland, because yeast grows and ferments better on this sugar.
During the beer mashing process, temperatures can reach 65°C, which largely disables BA while AA remains functional. But some BAs survive at higher temperatures, and Sapporo's patent describes methods to assess this ability....