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I was looking at a packet of "pilsner enzyme" (an amylase). I know what it does (chops up starch/maltodextrins to simpler sugars, I think...) but I wondered why it is called "Pilsner enzyme"? Why would one want to add Pilsner enzyme to Pilsner type beers (or any other beer)? And how did the production of pilsner enzyme come about in the brewing industry? Refined Amylase in packets is a relatively modern invention, so how and why was it brought into use?

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"Pilsner enzyme" is different from other brewing or distilling enzyme. It's not derived from malt and is a exogenous enzyme. It can do the same job as malt enzymes but at lower temps and different pH. Allowing it to be added to the wort at fermentation to break down sugars the yeast can't use so they can use them resulting in a dryer beer.

There is no need for this product in brewing unless the mash has gone wrong and denatured your target enzymes.

It may be useful when using LME / DME since these products are usually made from wort designed to have a set amount of residual unfermentables.

This isn't something "new". Many ancient processes would use saliva during a "cool" mash to break down sugars. The process would have the village women sitting around a large pot mixing and spitting in it for several hours.

Amylase powder: This is simply amylase enzyme.

It's mostly used in mashes that need more diastatic power.

Most brewers will use 6-row in the mash to boost diastatic power instead of adding enzyme powder.

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  • The question is about why the amylase enzyme is associated with Pilsner or the beer style. – barking.pete May 29 '17 at 14:07
  • @barking.pete I updated the answer. I was mistaken of the product you where referring too. – Evil Zymurgist May 29 '17 at 14:53
  • I am sympathetic to the suggestion that the enzyme may be of use when brewing with malt extracts. I tend to agree with the idea that many extracts are underconverted. – barking.pete May 24 '18 at 10:19
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I suppose that outside of the US, Pilsner and/or lager malt is the one with the most diastatic power. Here in Europe, 6-row is not malted for the brewing industry, it is only used for cattle food.

Edit: just to make it more clear, I suppose that it is called Pilsner enzyme, because it is used as a replacement for Pilsner malt, in cases one needs or wants to mash without malt.

  • Indeed, which is why I am curious about why one would want to add extra enzyme to Pilsner malt or Pilsner beer. Maybe the malt has so much enzyme that it is comparatively easy to extract and is thus a viable source of the enzyme. "Pilsner enzyme" because it comes from "Pilsner malt", maybe? – barking.pete May 29 '17 at 14:51
  • It's useful for mashes that have a large amount of adjuncts that don't have enzymes like torrefied, flaked grains or fruit adjuncts. – Evil Zymurgist May 29 '17 at 15:30
  • Yes pils is high in diastatic power (125) but 6-row being higher (150) and having much less (flavor) is preferred because it's easier to reach the desired DP with much less of the flavor of the grain allowing the adjuct to come through better. – Evil Zymurgist May 29 '17 at 15:43
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    My problem is still that Pilsner is a rather dry/clean tasting beer with few (any?) adjuncts. The Pilsner malt has sufficient diastatic power of its own right and makes good beer (with many famous examples). So why is amylase enzyme commonly referred to as Pilsner enzyme? It has been (elsewhere) suggested that Pilsners were originally not mashed out/boiled and so the amylase remained active in the wort. Hence it would be a enzyme "active in the Pilsner" to produce a dry beer. But I have not managed to substantiate this idea.. – barking.pete May 29 '17 at 16:36
  • @barking pete: Original pilsners where made with decoctions, and the last step included a boil of the last part of the wort to increase the temperature, so a kind of mash out and removal of enzymes. Besides, if one wants a dry beer, then this would be done by in the first part of the mash where dextrines are turned into simple sugars, before all beta-amylase has been denatured. One doesn't get a dry beer by further turning starches into dextrines, which would happen at higher temperatures. – chthon May 30 '17 at 6:06

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