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The Science of Craft Beer

The value of UV-Vis spectrophotometry in the brewing process

Trevor Henderson, PhD

Trevor Henderson BSc (HK), MSc, PhD (c), is the creative services director at Lab Manager.  He has more than two decades of experience in the fields of scientific...

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There has been growing interest and consumer demand in the craft brewing industry over the past few decades, with hundreds of new craft breweries opening annually in the United States.  Historically, Americans were content with the typical light lagers popularized by major brewers like Coors and Budweiser. However, as the American palate developed, the demand for the stronger, darker, more hoppy ales and lagers grew.

Nowadays, beer consumers are no longer content with a single beer of choice. Instead they are demanding nearly unlimited variety and selection, a trend that is testing the limits of some smaller breweries that may lack the capacity and resources to do a lot of brewing research themselves.

For many breweries, spectrophotometric technology is commonly used in the brewing process owing to its ability to provide rapid and precise measurements. UV-Vis spectrophotometry can evaluate a variety of factors including color, protein, polyphenols, ethanol, iodine, sulfites, hops, and total carbohydrate, among others. In fact, UV-Vis can analyze more essential aspects of a beer throughout the brewing process than any other single piece of analytical equipment.

The ability to develop a “fingerprint” of a specific formulation often depends on the use of spectrophotometric methods. According to Rick Blankemeyer, quality assurance analyst at Stone Brewing Company (Escondido, CA), “We use the UV-spec to monitor multiple aspects of the brewing process to ensure we are producing consistent beer across our many styles.”

If you are interested in learning more about the UV-Vis applications in the craft brewing industry, download Lab Manager’s On Demand Webinar “An Overview of UV-Vis Spectrophotometry in the Craft Brewing Industry.