Pint of beer overflowing glass

German beers identified by laser spectrometer

A digital laser spectrometer will help distinguish between 10 brands of German beer at this year's Electronica show in Munich. 

The demonstration, on the Analog Devices booth, will use a pocket-sized Stroker 785L Raman spectrometer to read the signature spectrum of the beers, explained Scott Norton, VP Engineering at Wasatch Photonics.

“The Stroker 785L can identify substances by optically probing the inherent molecular vibrational fingerprints through measurement of the laser-induced amplitude and frequency shift of the scattered light,” he said.

“The plan is to use local German beers. We will determine the exact beers once we are in Munich, but it is likely they will all be blonds,” added Luis Orozco, system applications engineer for the Industrial and Instrumentation segment at Analog Devices. “We will take the beer out of the bottle and put it in a clear cuvette, so the bottle is not an issue.”

The spectrometer combines a stabilised 785nm laser and a scientific CCD camera that incorporates Analog Devices analogue-to-digital converter (ADC) technology. “Wasatch's proprietary volume phase grating and ADI's low power, high performance ADCs enable this to be the highest throughput miniature Raman spectrometer in the market,” Orozco said. 

The major German brewers have received criticism in the local media in recent years for brewing beers – especially Pilsners – that all taste the same. For example, in a blind tasting of the five best-selling German beers done for a ZDF TV programme earlier this year, the tasters had great difficulty telling them apart.

It would be a sad day if the only solution was a laser spectrometer. However, Norton said that Wasatch Photonics' primary target was not beer but tasks such as “pharmaceutical, narcotic and explosives identification in real time – and from a safe distance.”

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