“Thus, it is known that the preparation of some native beers that used cereals as a source of extract involved a step where the grains were masticated by the brewer. In so doing, the addition of saliva, which contains the amylase, ptyalin, would partially degrade the starch content of the grain and thereby increase the fermentability of the wort. It is interesting to conjecture as to the train of empiricism that culminated in this process!”

Boulton & Quain, Brewing Yeast and Fermentation

It’s absolutely true, but you know, I never thought about all the misfires and shuffling steps (spits?) that had to’ve led to that discovery.

5 thoughts on “ptyalin

  1. hmmm…
    I truly believe our ancestors of long ago, were as brilliant as we think we are today; without titanium or semiconductors of course. But some of this stuff sounds more like a million monkeys in a room with a million typewriters.

  2. Just like the coffee made from coffee beans found in civet cat poop, makes you wonder what other things were tried first. Weasel Brunch by Mikkeller is proof that they got it right some how.

  3. I have a biology colleague that does an experiment with spit-derived amylase with her students. Unfortunately, it has nothing to do with making a wort, but I think they do test for conversion with starch/I2.

  4. Sam C. and Dogfish Head did a “Chicha” beer in 2009, and they did a documentary of the whole chew & spit pre-mash process to convert the corn starches. Yes I know it is historic, and yes I know that the boil kills all the Human introduced antigens, but the thought of drinking this beer makes want to gag. I had an opportunity to sample some Chicha but I couldn’t bring myself to bring it to my lips for the same reason I can’t eat Rocky Mountain Oysters. No matter what it tastes like the origin of the food is in my mind and spoils the experience for me. I can live with that ;-D

    • Rocky Mountain Oysters are delicious! And for that matter, so is Wynkoop’s Rocky Mountain Oyster Stout (search for it on YouTube). For the record, I did have DFH’s Chicha the first time it was offered and I thought it was delicious. I think they added strawberries to it if my memory is correct.

      Anyway, to each his own, I guess.

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