By Professor Charlie Bamforth, Department of Food Science and Technology, University of California, Davis
Until our research group published, “Silicon in beer and brewing”, in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, little was known of the relationship between silicon content and beer style and the manner in which beer is produced. In our study, Troy Casey, now with MillerCoors, measured silicon in a diversity of beers and ascertained the impact of grist selection and brewing factors on the level of silicon obtained in beer.
Commercial beers in the study ranged from 6.4 to 56.5 mg/L in silicon (see table below). Products derived from a grist of barley tended to contain more silicon than did those from a wheat-based grist, likely because of the high levels of silica in the retained husk layer of barley. Hops contain substantially more silicon than grain, but quantitatively, hops make a much smaller contribution than malt to the production of most beers, and therefore relatively less silicon in beer derives from them. During brewing, the vast majority of the silicon remains with the spent grains. However, aggressive treatment during wort production in the brew house leads to increased extraction of silicon into wort, and much of this survives into beer.
Silicon Content of Commercial Beers
|Number of beers|
|All||29.4||6.4 – 56.4||100|
|Ales||32.8||11.1 – 55.5||67|
|Lagers||23.7||10.1 – 56.4||27|
|Regular Lagers||23.8||14.5 – 40.4||9|
|Light Lagers||17.2||14.1 – 23.4||5|
|IPA||41.2||26.2 – 55.5||15|
|Non-alcoholic||16.3||6.4 – 25.7||6|
|Wheat||18.9||14.3 – 23.4||7|
|Pale Ale||36.5||16.8 – 50.7||18|
|Sorghum||27.3||23.9 – 30.7||2|
|USA beers||31.6||11.1 – 56.4||80|
|International beers||20.4||6.4 – 40.4||20|
Dr. Charlie Bamforth is Anheuser-Busch Endowed Professor of Malting & Brewing Sciences at UCD. He has been part of the brewing industry for more than thirty-one years. He is formerly Deputy Director-General of Brewing Research International and Research Manager and Quality Assurance Manager of Bass Brewers. He is a Special Professor in the School of Biosciences at the University of Nottingham, England and was previously Visiting Professor of Brewing at Heriot-Watt University in Scotland. Charlie is a Fellow of the Institute of Brewing & Distilling, Fellow of the Society of Biology and Fellow of the International Academy of Food Science and Technology. Bamforth is Editor in Chief of the Journal of the American Society of Brewing Chemists, is on the editorial boards of several other journals and has published innumerable papers, articles and books on beer and brewing.