Special Offers & Promotions



Latest News



View Channel

New Products



View Channel

Video Presentations



View Channel

Separation Science



View Channel

Microscopy & Image Analysis



View Channel

Laboratory Automation & IT Solutions



View Channel


Beer Chemistry: New Amino Nitrogen Testing Methods Lead to a Better Brew

publication date: Dec 22, 2017
author/source: Thermo Fisher Scientific

If I mentioned that I recently sampled an amazing new craft beer, you might assume that there is a brilliant artisan behind the brew. Maybe there is.

beerCreating the perfect brew may be part art, but also is a great deal of good beer chemistry. Beer is brewed using the following basic ingredients: water, a source of starch (such as barley, wheat, rice, or corn), and hops. Variations in flavor result from the ingredients and additives used as well as the brewing process utilized.

In fermentation, the yeast Saccharomyces converts sugar to ethanol and carbon dioxide. Besides sugar, nitrogen is the most important nutrient for yeast health and growth. Too little nitrogen results in incomplete fermentation whereas too much nitrogen is responsible for off flavors or spoilage. Nitrogen levels are often assessed through Free Amino Nitrogen (FAN) or Primary Amino Nitrogen (PAN) measurement. Along with ammonia, FAN/PAN constitutes Yeast Assimilable Nitrogen (YAN).

Levels of YAN in wort influence the formation of higher alcohols, specifically ethanol, which contributes to the flavor of beer and further influences the flavor contribution other alcohols will make. Considered a better predictor of healthy yeast growth, viability, fermentation efficiency and resulting beer quality and stability, YAN levels demonstrate enzyme action during malting. Most of the YAN is consumed within the first 36 hours of fermentation. While a YAN level of 150 mg/L indicates complete fermentation, for some higher Alcohol by Volume (ABV) beers, the level can be 250 mg/L or higher. Craft breweries, because they often use all malt wort, need to monitor YAN levels in order to control haze and the production of off flavors from higher alcohols. Excess YAN levels can also provide the best environment for growing organisms that will spoil beer.

Traditionally, the ninhydrin method has been used to estimate amino acids, ammonia, and the terminal nitrogen groups of peptides and proteins (YAN) and is listed as the method of choice by the European Brewery Convention (EBC), MEBAK, and American Society of Brewing Chemists (ASBC). Recently, the EBC approved a simpler and more rapid method called alpha amino nitrogen by OPA (NOPA) which determines the amino acid content in beer using a photometric measurement of OPA (o-Phthaldialdehyde) and NAC (N-acetyl cysteine). A rapid 2-reagent method was developed for a multi-purpose automated discrete analyzer(Thermo Scientific Gallery Plus Beermaster). This method has previously been tested in a side-by-side comparison against the EBC FAN protocol and demonstrated similar results. Furthermore, no additional ammonia measurements were needed. Total analysis time for six samples (60 tests) is approximately 45 minutes. The advantage of using the automated analyzer is its ability to simultaneously measure other analytes like beta-glucan, pH and SO2 on the same sample used for the NOPA measurement.

more about thermo fisher

more news from thermo fisher


If you have not logged into the website then please enter your details below.


Subscribe to any of our newsletters for the latest on new laboratory products, industry news, case studies and much more!

Newsletters from Lab Bulletin


Request your free copies HERE




Popular this Month

Top 10 most popular articles this month



Today's Picks



Looking for a Supplier?

Search by company or by product


Company Name:






Please note Lab Bulletin does not sell, supply any of the products featured on this website. If you have an enquiry, please use the contact form below the article or company profile and we will send your request to the supplier so that they can contact you directly.

Lab Bulletin is published by newleaf marketing communications ltd.


Media Partners


Exhibitions & Events