How to objectively determine the color of beer?

J Food Sci Technol. 2020 Mar;57(3):1183-1189. doi: 10.1007/s13197-020-04237-4. Epub 2020 Jan 9.


Beer color is an important sensory attribute, the first one that the consumer observes. There are two standard methods accepted for determining the color of these products, one related to the European Brewery Convention (EBC) and the other is the Standard Reference Method (SRM). Both methods are based on absorbance, but in case of the more and more popular fruit beers these methods give false result since these products appear in varied colors and have different spectra than regular beers. In this study 39 different types of beers were investigated, including fruit beers and beer based mixed drinks to compare their color in CIE 1976 L*a*b* color space, absorption-based colors and transmission spectra. ΔE*ab values of products with less than 5% EBC difference ranged from 4.5 to 17.4. There were magnitude differences in the transmission spectra of these products, fruit beers showed different tendencies due to the added fruit or fruit juice. The highest ΔE*ab value belonged to two traditional Weissbiers. Absorption-based methods are not able in many cases to differentiate between products which have nearly the same EBC or SRM color but visually are different. A multi-wavelength method would be reasonable to be developed for more objective and accurate beer color determination.

Keywords: Beer; CIE 1976 L*a*b* color space; Color; Color difference; Transmission spectra.