Beer Color Characteristics

Degrees Lovibond (°L)

This method of color measurement is known as a colorimeter, invented by James Lovibond in 1885. It was originally used to measure the color of finished beer's body to determine quality. It historically had a range of approximately 0-40, similar to SRM.

In modern times, this range is approximately 0-30. However, it is mainly used to define the color potential for base and specialty grains. For grain it has a range of approximately 0-600. SRM and EBC are the primary methods to measure the color of finished beer's body.

SRM Scale

The SRM scale is a method for measuring color density in finished beer. A blue light of a specific initial intensity is passed through a sample of beer, and the final intensity leaving the sample is measured by a photometer. For standardization, the blue light is 430 nm wavelength, and the sample is in a 1 cm x 1 cm cuvette. The initial intensity and final intensity are placed into a simple equation to calculate the SRM value of the sample.



Plugging sample numbers into the equation shows the following results.

A beer of 2 SRM (straw), about 70% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 6 SRM (gold), only 30% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 13 SRM (copper), only 10% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 25 SRM (brown), only 1% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 38 SRM (black), only 0.1% of light passes through the sample.

EBC Units

The SRM scale is a method for measuring color density in finished beer. A blue light of a specific initial intensity is passed through a sample of beer, and the final intensity leaving the sample is measured by a photometer. For standardization, the blue light is 430 nm wavelength, and the sample is in a 1 cm x 1 cm cuvette. It used to be 530 nm, but the wavelength was changed in The initial intensity and final intensity are placed into a simple equation to calculate the EBC value of the sample.



Plugging sample numbers into the equation shows the following results.

A beer of 4 EBC (straw), about 70% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 13 EBC (gold), only 30% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 25 EBC (copper), only 10% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 50 EBC (brown), only 1% of light passes through the sample.
A beer of 75 EBC (black), only 0.1% of light passes through the sample.

Nomenclature

Forgoing official measuring systems, the range of beer body colors can be divided into 8 subjective nomenclature categories. These can be approximately correlated to SRM and EBC values.

Straw (2-3 SRM, 4-6 EBC)
Yellow (3-5 SRM, 6-10 EBC)
Gold (5-7 SRM, 10-14 EBC)
Amber (7-12 SRM, 14-24 EBC)
Copper (12-18 SRM, 24-36 EBC)
Brown (18-26 SRM, 36-51 EBC)
Dark Brown (26-38 SRM, 51-75 EBC)
Black (38+ SRM, 75+ EBC)

All Content is Copyright © 2015, Brew Muse, LLC. All Rights are Reserved.