With a huge variation in bitterness compounds and perceived differences in bitterness taste, beer bitterness tests have become an essential part of the quality control procedures in commercial beer production. The predominant source of bitterness in beer are the iso-α acids, derived from α-acids which are present in the flowers of the female hop plant. Contrary to highly selective methods such as HPLC, the manual iso-octane extraction method is of relative simplicity and still widely used to determine the IBU. Yet, systematic errors due to sampling, shaking and liquid handling in general can lead to significant variations in results.
By demand of the Belgian beer industry, AppliTek has developed an automated, cost-effective analysis system to determine the bitterness units of the brewed beer. The analyzer mainframe, introduced at the World Beer Symposium in Ghent, performs automatic measurements at 275 nm and calculation of results. Analysis results can easily be communicated to industry standard 4 – 20 mA or via MODBUS protocol.
As a novel control alternative to current manual extraction or expensive chromatography methods, the “IBU analyzer” can be used in process (at-line) for adjusting the brewing process, or as final QC/QA in a laboratory combined with an autosampler.