How Sweet It . . . Is?

Submitted by Mike and Dorothy Bartol
Foam Rangers Homebrew Club

FLATULENCE  –  It’s something with which beer lovers have had to learn to live since the art of brewing began.  Beer contains certain oligosaccharides; chains of two to ten sugars.  Because our upper GI tracts lack the enzymes needed to break these sugar chains into forms that can be metabolized, these sugars pass on to the lower intestinal tract where anaerobic bacteria feast away on them.  And as they do, these bacteria produce a gas with a distinctive odor.

In the mashing process, enzymes present in the barley break down starch from the grains, producing mostly glucose, maltose, and other oligo- and polysaccharides such as sucrose, stachyose, verbascose, and raffinose.  After the resulting wort is hopped and yeast is added, the smaller saccharides are fermented to produce alcohol.  In general, saccharides larger than a three chain sugar are not fermentable.  However, they will contribute to the caloric value as well as to the overall flavor of the beer, its ability to form a head, and ultimately, flatulence.

An experiment using radiation was found to reduce the percent of longer chain molecules of sugars by forming weak points in the chain, thus making them easier to decompose when digested.

Who knows, the next beer craze may be:  FART FREE BEER!!!

Gleaned from –
Science News, Vol. 125, p. 72 “Irradiation – it cuts the gas”.
LC Magazine, Vol. 1, No. 8, pp. 504 – 507.  “Ion Chromatography: A Versatile Technique for the Analysis of Beer”

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