Enzymes for Brewers: I


Beta amylase from barley. The sections in gold are alpha helices. The sections in blue are beta sheets. The grey stretches are sequences of amino acids that lack secondary structure. (Diagram from Wikipedia, under Creative Commons license.)

Whether we know it or not, all brewers rely on enzymes in the brewhouse. This is a primer on the biology of enzymes, meant to give the interested brewer a more sophisticated understanding of enzymes. Nothing in this article will suggest radical alterations to your brewing procedures. However, a better understanding of enzymes may help you when things go wrong in the brewhouse — for example, if you mash at too high or too low a temperature.

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