In ancient times, beer brewers relied on trial and error to perfect their beverages, not knowing much about the biology or chemistry that took place as they converted their fields of grain to glasses of beer. Today, many early brewing techniques have survived, but dissecting and understanding the science of brewing has led to more consistent products and more efficient processes with less waste.
It’s the science behind the modern age of brewing that initially interested Christian Robinson as he earned a master’s degree in chemistry from the University of Cincinnati. Having previously worked in the laboratories behind prominent U.S. beer brands, Christian today works in research and development for MATRIC, applying the scientific concepts of brewing to his daily work.
Did you know there are three fundamental steps of brewing? Through mashing, boiling and fermentation a myriad of chemical reactions take place throughout each part of the brewing process and produce a multitude of compounds leading to the flavors and aromas of beer. In the mash, sugars are extracted from the grain and enzymatically converted to a form yeast can use to produce a liquid called wort. Next, in the boil, the wort is sanitized and hops are added for flavor and antiseptic properties. Finally, the wort is inoculated with yeast, called pitching yeast. It is in this fermentation step in which the sugars are converted to alcohol and carbon dioxide. After primary fermentation, the young beer is given time to “brighten” and then it is packaged.
According to Christian, examining these steps and the chemistry and biology involved, allows brewers to be more creative and innovative in their processes. When he is not in a MATRIC laboratory, Christian can be found homebrewing or speaking with local groups to share his hobby and to demonstrate the scientific properties of beer.
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