Yueshu Li (1), Andrew Nguyen (1), Lori Oatway (2), Aaron Onio (1), Peter Watts (1); (1) Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre, Winnipeg, MB, Canada; (2) Field Crop Development Centre, Alberta Agriculture and Forestry, Lacombe, AB, Canada

Malt and Grains

During the malting process, barley and other grains are germinated under carefully controlled conditions so that the components in the kernel are degraded to sugars, amino acids, and other low molecular weight compounds that can be used for subsequent fermentation in the brewing process. Estimating the quality and performance potential of barley and malt is essential in process control and in achieving optimal malt and beer quality. In this study, the rapid assessment of malting and brewing performance using NIR diffuse reflectance spectroscopy of un-malted barley and malt was examined. Typically this kind of evaluation could only be conducted through actual malting and brewing trials, which are costly and time-consuming, taking up to several weeks. Barley samples included in this study were collected in several crop years and from different growing locations on the prairies in Canada. The malting trials were conducted using a 100 kg pilot malting system, and the brewing trials were conducted with a 3 hL brewing system at the CMBTC. Using the Spectra Star (Unity Scientific) the NIR spectra (600-2,400 nm) were collected from barley, malt and wort samples. Several sets of calibrations were developed. These calibrations have high R2 values (0.6-0.9 depending on parameters being assessed) and satisfactory SECs, which enable us to assess barley malting potential and the barley and malt brewing potential, in addition to the basic barley and malt analysis. The test results suggest the NIR techniques could offer a unique tool for assessing performance potential for a given barley or malt sample without having to conduct conventional small-scale malting and brewing trials, as well as the related analytical procedures in barley and malt quality assessment. This technique will allow maltsters and brewers to examine quality and performance in a rapid and cost-efficient manner.

  Yueshu Li joined the Canadian Malting Barley Technical Centre in 2000 and is the center’s director of malting and brewing operations. Previously, he was senior technical consultant for malting barley in the Market Development Department of the Canadian Wheat Board. Yueshu has held several senior research and management positions in the malting industry in both North America and China, including Prairie Malt Limited, Canada Malting, Schreier Malting, USA, and CUC Nanjing Malt Limited, PRC. Yueshu completed his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in China and holds a Ph.D. degree from the University of Saskatchewan.