Miniaturizing the fermentation assay: Effects of fermentor size and fermentation kinetics on detection of premature yeast flocculation

Joseph C. Lake, R.A. Speers, Ashley V. Porter, Tom A. Gill

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    Abstract

    This article reports on fermentation assays used to test the fermentability of malt, especially malt implicated in premature yeast flocculation (PYF). No standard small-scale method currently exists. The current study involved 12 degrees C fermentations with three vessel configurations: a 4.4-cm high spectrophotometer cuvette, a 12.5-cm high test tube, and a 122-cm high "tall" tube fermentor. Worts tested were made from control and PYF malts. We included in our experiments the method of Jibiki and associates, using wort supplemented with 4% glucose and fermented at 21 degrees C. The decline in Plato values (or real extract) was fit with a sigmoidal model. The model parameters and fermentor height were used to estimate CO2 evolution and average shear rates. It was confirmed that both fermentor height and fermentation speed are the major independent variables determining CO2 evolution and agitation within the fermenting wort. In examining the fermentation data, it is evident that the yeast did not stay equally suspended in all three fermentation vessels. When fermented at 12 degrees C, yeast fell out of suspension rapidly in both the cuvette and test tube fermentors. In the tall tubes, the yeast remained in suspension as expected. The 21 degrees C test tube fermentations supplemented with glucose had fermentation profiles similar to the tall tube fermentations but were complete in less than 72 hr. It is notable that these profiles could be used to distinguish between PYF and control malts. The minimum average shear rate required to keep yeast suspended was determined to be between 4 and 7.5 sec(-1). Thus, when downscaling a fermentation assay by reducing the fermentor height, the rate of fermentation must be increased to maintain adequate shear rates. We confirmed that the PYF fermentation assay could be reduced to 15 mL, resulting in reduced labor, time, and material costs.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)94-102
    Number of pages9
    JournalJournal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists
    Volume66
    Issue number2
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2008

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