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J Agric Food Chem. 2003 Dec 3;51(25):7504-12.

Effect of reducing and oxidizing agents and pH on malt endoproteolytic activities and brewing mashes.

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Cereal Crops Research Unit, Agricultural Research Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture, Madison, Wisconsin 53726.


The activities of the four endoproteinase classes of malted barley are known to vary with pH, and it seemed likely that the cysteine enzyme activities could be altered by redox agents. This study determined how altering the pH and adding redox agents to mashes influenced the worts that were produced during the brewing process. The reducing agents cysteine.HCl, dithiothreitol, and beta-mercaptoethanol increased the proteolysis that occurred in malt extracts and mashes. This increased proteolysis was negated by the addition of the oxidizing agents diamide or hydrogen peroxide. The addition of reducing agents to mashes increased the soluble protein, free amino nitrogen (FAN), and extract values of their resultant worts, and this effect was abolished by the concomitant addition of oxidizing agents. Raising the pH values of the mashes strongly reduced their proteolytic activities, soluble protein, FAN, and extract values, but not their beta-glucan levels. These results show that several of the major aspects of malting and brewing quality can be adjusted by varying the pH and redox qualitites of mashes, which could be helpful to brewers. These results also strengthen the previous proposal made by Buchanan et al. that the redox status of plants may play a significant part in controlling their physiology.

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