a starch chain and removing glucose molecules one at a time, it is generally used in conjunction with amylase. While it may not break the starch down as completely, amylase does help encourage conversion by breaking starch down into shorter, more accessible chains. “If you’re replacing malt, you need a combination of enzymes,” Limmex said. “Once you get the Hitempase working, then you can also add in both the Amylo and Convertase-type enzymes. Overall, what you see is reduced viscosity and increase extract, in the range of ten percent for a corn mash.” Ezeani added that most enzymes are designed to be added at any stage, but he recommends adding them early to optimize their effectiveness, getting the most of them at higher temperatures. Exogenous enzymes, which are generally extracted from microbial
sources such as aspergillus niger and aspergillus oryzae, also offer the opportunity to ease the usage of highprotein and high-glucan materials, such as wheat, rye, and sorghum. “Rye is one place we see a lot of increase. You can get higher extract and also get higher filterability,” Limmex said. Glucanases and proteases don’t necessarily create fermentable sugars out of protein or glucans, but they break down the protein and glucan matrix which can lock up starch and prevent it from being accessed. “That’s really where you’re increasing your yield.” By breaking down proteins, a protease will also increase free amino nitrogen, which will encourage yeast health. “Anywhere you’re having protein precipitate out, or looking to increase FAN … Often it increases yield to add a little protease. That economic picture
changes depending on the market. If malt is more expensive, then it becomes more beneficial to add exogenous enzymes.” Considering the diversity on the shelf today, enzymes can allow distillers to access grains and pseudo-grains that would have been unworkable in the past. One recommendation to determine whether a distillery’s wash would benefit from enzyme usage is to take a sample of stillage and add enzyme and yeast to it. If it ferments further, then there is potential sugar (and profits) being washed down the drain.
Gabe Toth is the head brewer at Twisted Pine Brewing Co. An experienced craft brewer and distiller, his passion for fermentation also extends to pickling, cheesemaking and meat curing. He can be reached at email@example.com.