The Most Delicious Biotech: Vol. 1
The role of the brewer has always been to optimize the conditions in which biochemical processes occur—in the words of groundbreaking brewing scientist Jean DeClerk, “The yeast and the enzymes do all the hard work; I am merely a facilitator.” As such, a brewer’s task is akin to that of modern biopharmaceutical manufacturers, only the end product being different and potentially more fun.
Biochemistry plays a series of important roles from grain to glass. Enzymatic transformations are responsible for converting starches into maltose. Isomerization of hop resins into the boiling wort is responsible for the bitterness of beer. Yeast fermentation is responsible for beer’s alcohol content, carbonation and low pH (which is the real reason beer is always safe to drink.)
Brewing has always evolved to take advantage of cutting-edge science. Historically, pure culture technique was employed in the 1880’s to improve yeast performance, while the fundamental concept of pH was first established at Carlsberg Brewery. Today, beer’s bitterness is often measured through UV spectroscopy and solvent extraction; its color by spectrophotometric measurement. Yeast measurement now couples standard staining methods with advanced optics and flow cytometry to report yeast viability more accurately and precisely.
Once seen as magical and mysterious, scientific techniques have truly uncloaked the brewing process. Forearmed with knowledge, modern brewers can express their creativity and concoct drinkable masterpieces. All thanks to science.
Below you’ll find three beers. Each delicious sip brewed in their respective Chempetitive Group regions– Chicago, London and San Diego. With your vote, we can finally decide whose beer reigns supreme. We’ve tried to figure it out ourselves, but everyone ends up getting beer tears. We’re an emotional bunch.