Yeast needs Free Amino Nitrogen (FAN) to thrive. Low FAN levels in the wort lead to poor fermentation and low-quality beer. Under-modified malt or high adjunct ratios can reduce FAN levels. Proteases break down peptides to boost FAN levels, improving fermentation and beer quality.
Yeast is a living organism that needs proteins to grow and multiply. In wort, the main nitrogen sources for yeast metabolism are individual amino acids, small peptides and ammonium ions. These amino acids and peptides are known as FAN (Free Amino Nitrogen). Good FAN levels in the wort lead to good fermentation and acceptable, reproducible beer quality.
Endogenous proteases form FAN during the malting process and proteolysis rest in mashing. But under-modified malt or high adjunct (e.g. barley, corn, sorghum or rice) ratios can lead to low FAN levels in the wort.
To raise FAN levels, brewers add endo-proteases at mashing-in. Endo-proteases hydrolyze internal peptide bonds. This reaction generates more substrate for the peptidases naturally present in cereals. That leads to higher FAN levels in the wort and better, reproducible beer quality.
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