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Old 04-23-2012, 03:53 AM   #21
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Originally Posted by FlyDoctor
Can I ask a biology question? Why do these grains contain enzymes that would never be active at temps experienced in the living plant? Seems like a lot of energy for the grain to synthesize these enzymes if they are only to be used when dead.
I was wondering the same thing. I'm guessing that these enzymes work at a much slower rate during germination. Quick conversion of starches probably wouldn't be ideal.
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Old 04-23-2012, 05:48 AM   #22
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I had always wondered how the first mashes could have been done to make the early, accidental beers that spurred the entire practice. After all, there would have been no reason to keep the malted grain in a mash environment- there would have to be a simpler method that could happen by coincidence.

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:05 AM   #23
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I've been reading a ton of beer history for a class this semester and it's generally accepted nowadays that mashing wasn't discovered accidentally as previously theorized.

Fermentation was likely first encountered in fruits, probably as far back as before apes and humans began to branch off. When humans started gathering various grains, they likely realized there were sugars present, and slowly figured out the mashing process to optimize those sugars over time, likely a few thousand years.

The REAL history of beer is amazing. Once you start reading books outside of the Brewer's Association publishing realm, you quickly realize that brewers themselves tend to perptuate the myths and falsehoods more than anyone else. My professor is a bonafide beer historian and has given me access to journals and books I never would have imagined existed.

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Old 04-23-2012, 06:21 AM   #24
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Originally Posted by Airborneguy
Fermentation was likely first encountered in fruits, probably as far back as before apes and humans began to branch off. When humans started gathering various grains, they likely realized there were sugars present, and slowly figured out the mashing process to optimize those sugars over time, likely a few thousand years.
Except grains don't have sugars in them, they have starches and enzymes to convert them. No one knew there was a connection until after the conversion happened.
So why would anyone waste the time unless there was a process simple enough to take off, even inefficiently?

Nope, I don't buy a thousand years of refinement of a theoretical when people could starve to death if they wasted time and food on something that wouldn't pay off in their own lifetime.

If they did encounter sweet grain, that rather necessitates a belief that at some point, it happened to some degree accidentally.
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Old 04-23-2012, 06:39 AM   #25
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ok

EDIT: Just "Ok" looks too snarky to me. I shouldn't have left it at that. What I posted is a summary of literally hundreds of pages of peer-reviewed journals I've read regarding this subject since the start of my Beer History class this semester. I see you disagree, which is fine, but the evidence is against you. The "accidental discovery" theory has largely been abandoned by scientists and historians, but apparently not by mainstream brewing publications.

One of the progression theories I read about holds that baking a beer bread - bappir - as the Egyptians called it (this part is very well documented), with coursely ground grains, then soaking it in warm water created conditions similar to mashing, which over time led to the realization that the bread was not necessary and the grains could be directly mashed. The archealogical record seems to support this theory, as later Egyptian period finds show that Egyptian breweries - two of which have been positively identified - no longer had bread baking equipment on site as earlier breweries did.

The malting process likely was discovered accidentally. It makes perfect sense that tasting grains that had begun to sprout would have yielded a sweeter, and therefore more desireable, flavor. But the process of mashing was almost certainly not discovered when someone "accidentally" left sprouted grains outside in a rain storm, as has been pushed in brewing "history" books for some time now. The real historians do not support this theory anymore because there is absolutely no evidence to back it up, while evidence does exist as to a progression of discoveries which eventually led to a very recognizeable (to us) brewing process being carried out by the Egyptians and Mesopotamians/Babylonians around 3000-4000 BC. If you were teleported to an Egyptian or Mesopotamian brewery 5000 years ago, you would no doubt realize what was going on. The technology was different obviously, but the process was very similar by this time.

Furthermore, while we would love to believe the opposite, beer was certainly not the first fermented beverage that man enjoyed. Other more readily fermented sugars were widely available to ancient man in the fertile crescent: figs, dates, grapes, etc. As these will all naturally ferment without human intervention, they were mostly certainly ingested before grains were "discovered" and cultivated.

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Old 04-23-2012, 07:24 AM   #26
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Post Deleted by User. Didn't realize the question was already answered lol

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Old 04-23-2012, 10:41 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Airborneguy View Post
ok

EDIT: Just "Ok" looks too snarky to me. I shouldn't have left it at that. What I posted is a summary of literally hundreds of pages of peer-reviewed journals I've read regarding this subject since the start of my Beer History class this semester. I see you disagree, which is fine, but the evidence is against you. The "accidental discovery" theory has largely been abandoned by scientists and historians, but apparently not by mainstream brewing publications.
i recognize that you have a well-reasoned argument, based on some popular theories among some very bright people, but I still don't believe it's wholly true. After all, evidence is often collected to support the hypothesis, rather than in isolation of it.
I'm also pretty leery of string theory and dark matter, too. They all share one thing in common- they don't pass Occam's Razor.
I find it much easier to believe that humans accidentally created a beverage that shared basic similarities with beer by sheer accident, and duplicated it, and then attempted to refine the process. Otherwise, they are creating a new recipe out of whole cloth because grain might contain something that would ferment, despite knowing nothing about either sugar, starch or even the existence of yeast.

If you're saying that it was bread baking that lead to the first beer, then it really just modifies the original "accidental discovery" theory- someone left some old bread in water by mistake. There would be little reason for them to do it on purpose.


And since none of our back and forth addresses the original post: can the enzymes found in malt function at room temperature over a longer period of time, at anything approaching the efficiency of a warm mash?
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Old 04-23-2012, 10:49 AM   #28
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I'm not trying to argue with you, but in post #22, you started this line of discussion...

Even scientists and historians do not have consensus on this issue, so I fully understand you not agreeing with what I'm saying. I was merely trying to point out that the majority do not ascribe to that belief any longer.

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Old 04-23-2012, 12:35 PM   #29
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I'm a new brewer, but a seasoned enzymologist, so I feel I can chime in.

It makes sense that early brewers would have known to use warm water to rehydrate and begin germination of their seeds before planting crops for better viability. This is essentially malting.

If you measure the specific activity of any enzyme vs. temperature, it will generally fall in a normal distribution with a peak at highest activity. The width of the peaks vary widely with the specific enzyme. It makes sense that amylases would have a wide range of activity, and a slow rate of conversion at the lower bounds of germination temperatures.

I'm certain that early brewers noticed the sweetness and fermentability caused by malting, and experimented with a range of warm water to maximize this sweetness, resulting in mashing techniques. We don't give enough credit to our ancestors for empirical discovery.

I'm just thinking out loud about the history discussion, but I do know that we use many conditions in the lab that accelerate the turnover rate of enzymes to much higher levels than found in the body (in this case a seed). You can imagine how it would not be ideal for a seed to rapidly convert it's energy stores in the cool spring, yet still works at a low rate as germination begins.

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Old 04-23-2012, 12:43 PM   #30
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So, sorry for the double post, but who here is going to do the experiment and see if malted barley converts over time when hydrated in water in a warm room, say 90-120 F.

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