Alpha-amylases break down starch. Unlike glucoamylases, they can cleave α-1,4-glucosidic linkages anywhere on the starch molecule. That makes them relatively fast acting. Combined with pullulanases, α-amylases reduce conversion times. They also help brewers get maltose/glucose ratios to match a range of beer styles.
Alpha-amylases hydrolyze starch by cleaving α-1,4-glucosidic linkages. They yield maltotriose and maltose from amylose. From amylopectin they yield maltose, glucose, and limit-dextrin.
They're just one of the enzyme classes used to control the degree to which sugars in the wort are fermented into alcohol. Getting attenuation right is about balancing enzyme class, dosage and conversion conditions.
Glucoamylases are another class of enzyme used in attenuation. They also cleave α-1,4-glucosidic linkages but only at the non-reducing ends of amylase and amylopectin. α-amylases can work on any 1,4-glucosidic linkage. Being able to work at random locations on the starch molecule makes them relatively fast-acting.
Used in combination with pullulanases, α-amylases speed up starch breakdown. Brewers can use this enzyme combination to reach attenuation targets in shorter conversion times.
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