from the President:
Enzymes and Beer
By Chris White
In the last issue, I discussed the shared history
between breweries and distilleries, at least from a fermentation
Both industries treat yeast as the central ingredient
in their beverages. Distillers have learned many lessons from brewers,
because as you probably know some whiskey starts as beer, minus the
One important difference is that distillers crank
their beers up to 13 percent alcohol before distilling the whiskey.
Thus, they have wide experience in making high-gravity beers. Brewers,
who increasingly are making higher alcohol beers, can learn a thing or
two from their distilling counterparts.
The main lesson, naturally, centers around stuck
fermentations. Distillers use special enzymes to prevent stuck
fermentations, and these same enzymes can be used to great benefit by
Why? The enzymes eat through the sugars, giving your
yeast lots of simple sugars to consume.
In high-gravity beers, this practice will help
prevent the chance of your yeast stopping because of the high amount of
dextrin in the sugars.
It can be added in the mash or to your fermentation
vessel. If your fermentation stalls, add the distiller’s enzymes
directly to the fermenter.
If you are brewing and have a stuck fermentation,
order some with fast service and add it when it arrives.
You can get these enzymes at a number of places,
including through White Labs. We have a large inventory because we work
with many distilleries around the world. Here is a brief description of
some of the nutrients and enzymes I am talking about:
AYF 1177 – This yeast nutrient for use in fuel
ethanol and beverage alcohol fermentations.
It contains a proprietary blend of plant extracts and
is formulated to provide yeast with the correct nutrient balance.
Available in 18 kg pails. ($685)
AYF 1200 – Available in 10 kg box (4 pk of
2.5 kg) ($129)
Alcoholase I 120 – Available in 18kg pails
Alcoholase II 300 (Glucoamylase) – Alcoholase
II is a fungal glucoamylase or amyloglucosidase enzyme for use in the
production of fuel ethanol and beverage alcohol. Available in 18 kg
High T 120 (Alpha-Amylase) – High T is a
thermostable bacterial alpha-amylase enzyme used in the production of
beverage alcohol. Available in 18 kg pails. ($325)
Fermaid K — Fermaid K is a blended complex
yeast nutrient that supplies ammonia salts (DAP), alpha amino nitrogen
(derived from yeast extract), sterols, unsaturated fatty acids, key
nutrients (magnesium sulfate, thiamin, folic acid, niacin, biotin,
calcium pantothenate) and inactive yeast. Fermaid K should be hydrated
before adding to an active fermentation to avoid CO2 release and
overflowing of tanks or barrels. It is available in 10 kg boxes for $145
and 2.5 kg bags for $45.
Chris White is President of White Labs Inc. and is
a chemistry and biochemistry lecturer at the University of California,
San Diego. He has a Ph.D in biochemistry. Feel free to write
him about this column.