Specialist supplier of scientific water analysis, beverage and laboratory test equipment

Lovibond® Colour Measurement Application Note – EBC Colour Scale for Beers and Worts

Written by Janice M on . Posted in Colour Measurement


Lovibond® Colour Discs


History of the EBC Colour Scale:

The EBC Colour Scale was designed specifically for the colour standardisation of Beers and Worts.

This scale was originally proposed by the Institute of brewing in 1950 when it was finally decided that the original Lovibond® series 52 (1885) Brown Scale was irregular in spacing and lacking in Red at the high end of the scale.

When the EBC scale was first introduced the colours were mounted in Tintometer® racks and used in the Model 48 and Model D. It was also supplied in disc form to be used in a comparator.

During the late 1950s and early 1960s, a number of adjustments were made to the colour discs at the request of Dr. Bishop of the Institute of Brewing.

The specification laid down by the European brewing Convention (EBC) is in terms of x, y, z and CIE Chromaticity coordinates. Transmission is not specified.

This is still the EBC colour scale specification and all Lovibond® discs are matched against Master discs that conform to this specification.

During the 1960’s, a new novel method of viewing the sample against the standard EBC col our was introduced. This was the 3-aperture system, ie the current equivalent is the 3-field comparator. All discs made for this system are Yellow Spot.

The EBC Colour Scale is the recognised method for colour grading of worts, malts, beers and caramels, by the European Brewing Convention and the Institute of Brewing (British). There is also a relationship to the ASBC (American), ie EBC Colour = 2.65 ASBC – 1.2.

All colours are related to 25 mm path length (12.7 mm for ASBC). A sample measured in a 25 mm cell with a colour match of 5 EBC is a true EBC value. A sample measured in a 1 mm cell and diluted by 100 to 1 with a disc reading of 5 would give a true EBC reading of 5 x 1000 x 25 = 125 000 EBC units.

Many samples required to be matched by the EBC scale do not match the disc colours. This is because they are sometimes off hue, too bright or too dull and sometimes because they are hazy or turbid. Because of this, alternative ways of measuring the colours are being used.

The method specified in Analytica (EBC Bible) as an alternative is photometric. measurements are made at a single wavelength of 430 nm.

Malts create problems because of turbidity but worts and beers are normally free from this problem.

Although in many cases this method is official, it still does not solve the problem of wrong readings as off hue colours are not compensated for and the results are just as uncertain as some visually obtained.

The industry is very actively looking for alternative methods to both visual and photometric and the trend seems to be CIE LAB.

The EBC scale can be used for the following applications:

Caramel, Worts, Beer, Coffee and Sugar Syrups. The scale has also been used as a rapid BOD (Biological Oxygen Demand) on effluents from an instant coffee producer where effluents are totally coffee.

Caramel is used as a colourant for:

Confectionery, pharmaceuticals, canned meat, sauces.

Spectrophotometric standards can be prepared from Hartogs Solution (Pot Dichromate and Sodium Nitro Prusside).


Journal of the Institute of Brewing, vol. LXXI. No 6 Nov – Dec, 1965.

Read about more colour scales used to measure the quality of Beers, Malts and Caramels.

Tags: , , , ,

Trackback from your site.

Leave a comment


Product lists in

language icon language icon language icon language icon

Newsletter Signup

Stay up-to-date with our monthly newsletter.

Corporate Member
Wildlife Society