Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Analysis of beer

As a scientist and as a brewer, I can't help but try to combine the two. I've done some informal analysis of my beer (aside from tasting and metabolizing it), but since I'm not a professional brewer or a brewing scientist, I can't justify investing a lot of time and money into analyzing my beer.

I would love to get a copy of "Methods of Analysis of the American Society of Brewing Chemists." There are all sorts of interesting things in there. This resource covers thing such as:
  1. Barley
  2. Malt
  3. Adjunct Materials
  4. Cereals
  5. Sugars and Syrups
  6. Brewers' Grains
  7. Hops
  8. Wort
  9. Beer
  10. Flavored Alcohol Beverages
  11. Microbiology
  12. Yeast
  13. Microbiological Control
  14. Filter Aids
  15. Packages and Packaging Materials
  16. Bottles
  17. Bottle Closures
  18. Cans
  19. Fills
  20. Sensory Analysis
  21. Statistical Analysis


  • Tables for Extract Determination in Malt and Cereals
  • Tables Related to Determinations on Wort, Beer, and Brewing Sugars and Syrups

Granted, that is waaaaaaaay more than I as a homebrewer would ever need, and it costs about $650. This is designed for the professional brewer who needs to make a living brewing beer. There is no way in the world I can get something like this, but it sure would be cool.

I am going to grow my own hops this year. I did last summer, but I built a shed on top of them and I doubt they will survive. I'd love to be able to measure the amount of alpha acids present in my own hops. I'm sure I can figure out how to do this, but I've always been a fan of not reinventing wheels.

I also want to measure the amount of unfermented sugars left in my beer. I could easily do this using the "phenol/sulfuric acid test," but again, why reinvent the wheel.

So, if you have a copy of "Methods of Analysis of the American Society of Brewing Chemists" and want to give it to me for zero dollars and zero cents, please feel free. I'll pay shipping.


A-non-y-mous said...

You can pick up the sixth edition for $150 - granted it's from 1958 and seems a bit sparse (compared to your list).

rangermonk said...

That sounds like a pretty intense book. I grow hops. Last year I did a simple extract analysis of the VOC content of one of my varieties. I had no standards for comparison. So, it was a qualitative analysis. The results were still interesting.

Anonymous said...

Hops grow rather tall - we used to go to help with planting and harvest, to hop-producing kolchoz.
They had these horizontal metal cables about 5 meters above ground streched between the poles - and a thin wire with a hook at the end was lowered from the cable (with a long aluminum pole) and stuffed to the ground, next to the hop planting. When the plant was fully grown and ready it was cut at the bottom and riped off the wire and the flowers were hand-picked. It a was rather repetetive work.

mjenks said...

Growing your own hops? Beware the "brewer's droop".

Woller's Disciples said...

I believe alpha acid contents can be found either by UV analysis or extract the resins and then titrate with lead acetate until an electrical current is detected.

Anonymous said...

As part of my instrumental chemistry class, we did an analysis of iso-alpha acids. We used UV-Vis spectroscopy and looked at the absorbance at 275nm. Although we did this using the final beer product, the same can be done with an extraction of crushed hops using hexane. Additonally, if you would like a good calibrated result you can purchase ICE standards which are standards of alpha-acids. If you need more help I would talk to your departments analytical chemists.

Anonymous said...

We offer hop testing services for a decent price. Alpha, Beta, and Hop Storage Index is $35 per sample using UV spec at 275,325, and 355 nm wavelenghts. We are also excited about offering new beer analysis services coming May 1st 2011. A whole line of testing services at half the price of Siebel Institute or White Labs. Let me know if I can be of service to you.