Lifecycle of an Enzyme: Synthesis and active formation of the aleurone layer
Enzymes are an essential part of life. They are also an essential part of beer. As a reaction catalyst, they make things happen quickly. Sometimes too quickly. By controlling the use of these very specific and very powerful chemical tools, it is possible to engineer desired results. Each individual protein matrix has a tightly regulated set of actions, based solely on its physical configuration and electro-chemical charge. When it comes to brewing, several important enzymes are developed for processing, but where does it all start?
In the life cycle of barley, a seed is planted, the seed grows, then it flowers. Once that happens, self-pollination occurs, then a new seed is formed and the process can begin again. This cycle can be broken at any point, but a “pause” can only really occur at the seed stage. Here the enzymatic activity and chemical reactions are at their slowest, preserving energy for survival. If kept in ideal conditions, a barley seed kernel may last several years. On the other hand, if it is subjected to extreme conditions, it may become non-viable in as little as a few weeks.
For most types, barley has a preferred temperature and moisture to initiate seed growth. Until those needs are met, the contents of the kernel remain tightly locked. A hardened seed coat offers protection from the elements, and a temporary rain jacket to shed light hydration. Evolution has enabled most seeds to endure long periods of privation, but some limits do apply. Starting the embryonic growth of a seed is a one-way ticket. If the process is stopped for any reason, the plant is going to die.